Listening to the sacred

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 

 

Tutors: Sepideh Parsapajouh/ PhD in anthropology and sociology

Project manager: Stéphane Coulaud

 

Objectives:
After studying written and visual testimonies collected by anthropologists, the pupils invented rites, practices and doctrines in an attempt to understand how humanity developed numerous religious traditions.
An anthropologist from the Interdisciplinary Religious Studies Centre – EHESS helped design the workshop. The aim was to take a comprehensive, objective view of religions and forms of religious thought and to explore the various ways in which the social sciences approach “sacred” and “religious” questions.

Workshops:
Believe?
The workshop began with a brief presentation of polytheist religions practised by remote societies, as a way of demonstrating basic anthropological methods. The classes could then concentrate on the monotheist traditions, drawing on their own practices. The anthropologist and the teachers then ran the first workshop sessions in which pupils aired their opinions, beliefs and knowledge, to reach a common and more objective view of the religious field.
Building on this base, the classes tackled religious questions, illustrated with examples from various cultures: God, life, death, the invisible, the hereafter, belief, etc.

Places of worship
The project was then broadened: meetings were organised with representatives of various religious communities in their places of worship. The classes then concentrated on more familiar religions, such as the religions of the Book. They subsequently visited the Great Synagogue in Paris, the chapel of Notre Dame de Bonne Délivrance and the Great Mosque in Paris. The pupils interviewed the representatives of each community, using questionnaires drawn up in class, and observed their places of worship. The last two sessions were spent on comparative work, identifying similarities and differences between the religions.

Outcome:
The pupils produced a set of 15 black-and-white A1 posters. Using the questionnaire they drew up in the workshop the pupils interviewed representatives of the three monotheist religions. They summarised the answers in their own words. 

Acknowledgments: Rita Hermon-Bellot, Sophie Nizard, Mathieu Terrier.

 

Outings:
- MUSÉE DU QUAI BRANLY.
- NOTRE DAME DE LA BONNE DÉLIVERANCE CHAPEL, NEUILLY-SUR-SEINE
- GRAND MOSQUE, PARIS
- GRAND SYNAGOGUE, PARIS

Schools:
- Class (6th), Collège Dolto, Villepinte
- Class (3rd SEGPA) Collège Monod, Gagny