This course is discontinued

TFF4217 – Hip Hop Culture and Urban Spirituality

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This course explores the intersection of spirituality and popular culture in an urban context. Hip hop culture, encompassing the four core elements of graffiti, djing, breaking and Mcing (rap), emerged among urban youth in New York City in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s. Entering into mainstream popular culture from the middle of the 1980’s, hip hop soon spread to other cities in the US and around the world and is now a global youth culture with distinct and vibrant scenes also in African, Asian and European countries. Often framed by popular media as a violent, sexistic and hedonistic culture, hip hop has from the beginning also been a highly spiritual culture, giving young people all over the world a sense of place, being and direction in their lives, knowledge of self and knowledge of heritage and culture.

In this course we will examine how hip hop culture reflects different spiritual and religious traditions, perceiving hip hop spirituality as a hybrid spirituality, a spirituality of survival and resistance, contextualized in a situation of struggle and political opposition to oppressive forces such as of racism, sexism and class. Hip hop expressions from both the US as well as other parts of the world will be explored, including music, graffiti and if possible, dance. We will study some of hip hop classics, such as works by Afrika Bambaataa, 2Pac, Lauryn Hill, Mos Def and Erkah Badu, also explore the contemporary graffiti art in Oslo.

Learning outcome

Through the study of rap songs, graffiti walls and other expressions of hip hop culture, you will get a deepened understanding of how spirituality might be embedded in popular culture. You will acquire a general knowledge of hip hop culture, its elements, history and styles, as well as different kinds of spirituality, spiritual traditions, and theories of intesectionality and racism. Also you will explore how spiritual expressions might be influenced by urban environments.


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If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

No obligatory prerequisites beyond the minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway.


Obligatory requirements:
1) a short paper (1000 words) reflecting on a selection from the reading list
2) A short paper (1000 words) with reflection on spirituality related to a music video, a graffiti wall or a piece of popular music chosen by the student.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


Term Paper some 3000-4000 words. The term paper can either be in English or in Norwegian.

Examination support material

No examination support material is allowed.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

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Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Autumn 2012


Autumn 2012

Teaching language