2023-2024 Catalog

RELS 248 Religion in Los Angeles

This course will introduce students to the diverse religious history of the Los Angeles Basin, with special attention to the themes of borderlands and mestizaje. By studying primary source documents, visiting museums, and conducting ethnographic research, students will learn about the variety of religious traditions and religious communities that have flourished in the region—ranging from indigenous religions, to colonial Catholicism, to immigrant religions like Taiwanese Buddhism and Christianity—and we will learn about how these religious communities reflect Los Angeles’s place on the horizons of the Atlantic and Pacific Worlds. After an introductory section of the course that provides historical context for the colonial past that shaped the city’s cultural geography, we will turn to a focus on lived religion in contemporary Los Angeles. We will study distinct religious traditions, as well as practices that cut across religions and thus complicate the border between religion and culture. Finally, with an eye toward religious contact, conflict, and exchange, we will ask how religion in Los Angeles both reflects and challenges narratives of American religion more broadly.


4 units

Core Requirements Met

  • United States Diversity