The key contrast here is with so-called symbolist approaches, which draw on a Durkheimian inheritance to emphasize how religion, and in particular ritual, should primarily be interpreted as made up of representations of the social order. What are the cultural benefits of religion. The study of religion has generated new topics and methods as well as building on more established ones. Dimensions of religious chastity such as charismatic, community, missionary, ecological, and ascetical; Religious chastity as a sign; 1. Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam. Hirschkind (2006) focuses on the role of the cassette sermon in promoting Islamic revival. Religion in this sense can be seen as deploying spirits as explanatory principles much as a scientist might use atoms or molecules. Bell, C., 1992. The diversity of religions across cultures. Csordas, T., 1997. Indian University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, pp. Swain, Trans.). 1, 2). Krishan Sharma, Anil Kishore Sinha, Bijon Gopal Banerjee. Joel Robbins (2004, 2007) examines the conversion to Pentecostal Christianity of the Urapmin of Papua New Guinea, and shows how even the apparent assimilation of Christian categories can conceal a more complex relationship to belief than might at first appear. The early studies of James Frazer, E. B. Tylor, Émile Durkheim, and others tended to focus on classifying religions and developing models of religious evolution. Evans-Pritchard’s classic study of the Azande retains much of its power because his argument is rooted in analysis of both social relations and modes of thought. For example, burial practices are more likely to be called customs and not sharply differentiated from other ways of doing things. Translating the Devil: Religion and Modernity Among the Ewe in Ghana. In the light of social evolutionary models of human development, religious practice was perceived as providing a powerful index of the mental and moral levels of so-called primitive peoples. A further foundational strand in the anthropological study of religion has been the investigation of the relationship between religion and social order. III. Anthropology as a science of culture was founded in an atmosphere of Comtism, utilitarianism, agnostic biblical criticism, and the beginnings of comparative religion in the nineteenth century, an environment which was unfavorable to religion. Feasts: A View from Cultural Anthropology; Chapter 7. Theological foundation of chastity; 2. Shamanism is a religious practice that involves a practitioner, a master shaman, who is believed to interact with a spirit world through altered states of consciousness, such as trance. Writing of the postcolonial period in South Africa but also highlighting resonances with other postrevolutionary societies, Jean Comaroff and John Comaroff (1999) explore occasions when vast wealth appears to concentrate in the hands of just a few citizens, so that the market seems to contain mysterious mechanisms of accumulation and distribution. Robin Horton’s “African Traditional Thought and Western Science” (1970) argues that African religions link causes and effects in much the same way as scientific practices. Krishan Sharma, Anil Kishore Sinha, Bijon Gopal Banerjee. Hirschkind, C., 2006. For instance, the so-called Theory of Mind Mechanism can be seen as a cognitive tool enabling humans to interpret a living organism’s movements in terms of its inferred intentions: such construal of what is going on in other people’s brains is clearly an adaptive skill. These themes, along with topics such as witchcraft, belief, language, and the body, have remained of perennial interest. For Geertz (1973: p. 4), religion was “(1) a system of symbols which acts to (2) establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men [sic] by (3) formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.” Geertz’s humanistic, ‘interpretive’ anthropology created intellectual distance from such figures as Claude Lévi-Strauss, whose French ‘structuralism’ focused on very broad cultural meanings divorced from the actions and interpretations of specific people. Another characteristic of obedience is human freedom. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. As Needham puts the problem: “The Penan had no formal creed, and … they had no other conventional means for expressing belief in their God. Robbins, J., 2004. Keane, W., 1997. The Popular Use of Popular Religion: Power and Meaning in Three Brazilian Popular Religions; Chapter 5. Prey into Hunter. Murphy, University of Alabama; Andrew Lang, Anthropology and Religion, The Making of Religion, (Chapter II), Longmans, Green, and C°, London, New York and Bombay, 1900, pp. James Frazer’s The Golden Bough, first published in 1890, traced magical and religious threads throughout history and weaved them into a pattern depicting the p… Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft: Ritual Magic in Contemporary England. Anthropological Perspectives on Religion - Thesis Example. Csordas has presented a sense of the body as both ‘self ’ and ‘not-self, ’ both subject and object, but also the very grounding of the human experience of culture. Lambek, M., 2002. In: Wilson, B. Nonetheless, the transformation and pluralization of ritual forms does not necessarily mean that they are disappearing. The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual. This prescience is known as the apocalypse. Ethnos 53, 190–203. University of California Press, Berkeley. The witch represents an ‘impure’ challenge to social order as well as to physical well-being, and embodies some of the key anxieties of a given society. Christianity is the only religion that has foreseen its own failure. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (J.W. Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. Her main argument is that, for the Ewe, the Devil forms a hybrid figure, expressing people’s obsessions with occult forces as a way to mediate the attractions and discontents of modernity. Similarly, the notion of religion as an autonomous activity is regarded as emerging from a unique, Western, post-Reformation history. The noun pistis then acquires a special twist in the apostolic writings of the New Testament, where it is often used in the sense of being converted, denoting the ‘belief’ held collectively by early Christians as a common conviction in the resurrection of Jesus. Douglas, M., 1966. The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics. Subsequent work on witchcraft from the 1940s onwards often examined it in the context of changing social relations and periods of communal stress. Henn, A., 2008. 1. There are many psychological and anthropological models of religion. Marcel Mauss, Durkheim’s nephew, developed the notion of ‘habitus,’ the idea that certain elements of culture (habits, tastes, skills) become rooted in the body over time. Within Anglo-Saxon anthropological circles, Mary Douglas’s combination of British empiricism and French structuralism resulted in some highly influential work on the function of the body as social and religious symbol. How religions contribute to the maintenance of social order. An anthropological approach to religion is characterised by engagement with the people studied through participant observation in the field. In the 1970s, the American anthropologist Clifford Geertz combined a Durkheimian understanding of religion as a collective social act with a more Weberian emphasis on meaning and experience. He notes that both the original Greek verb pisteuo and the Hebrew root mn express ideas of trust or confidence in an agreement, indicating a fundamentally social orientation. He notes that in Ndembu initiation rites in Zambia, circumcision of boys becomes a metaphor for killing, since it destroys the childhood status of the initiate (Turner, 1967). Wallace proposed four categories of religion, each subsequent category subsuming the previous. He suggests that such language may raise a particular kind of problematic: the effort to know and interact with an ‘otherworld’ tends to demand highly marked uses of linguistic resources. Not all scholars believe that a definition is possible. The disaggregating approach helps us answer this critique. African traditional thought and western science. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice. Basic Books, New York. Boyer, P., 2001. ), 1996. More recent work has taken the opposite step of proposing that Western science has significant parallels with ‘traditional’ religious thinking. Religion An Anthropological Perspective Series: American University Studies H. Sidky. Oxford University Press, New York. Such analysis emphasizes the political implications of ritual experience in the service of order and hierarchy. Occult economies and the violence of abstraction: notes from the South African postcolony. Anthropologist Anthony F.C. ANTHROPOLOGICAL DIMENSIONS OF THE POSTSECULAR PARADIGM Ideas of the postsecularism were initially conceived and discussed in the contexts of politics and ideology. The years following World War II have seen the reemergence of evangelical forms of Christianity in many parts of the world. Anthropologists are scientists who study culture through observation and other empirical (evidence based) methods. Separation rites and rites of incorporation expunge the initiate’s original vitality; but what Bloch calls the rebounding violence of transcendental conquest is contained in the return to everyday life, as the person is transformed from being prey into being a hunter – into a state where the powerful transcendent element inherited from the ritual dominates the person’s identity. HIDE THIS PAPER GRAB THE BEST PAPER 96.6% of users find it useful. Likewise, there are secular systems which include some of these dimensions. Horton’s assumption is that religion is fundamentally about explanation, a so-called ‘intellectualist’ stance toward religion that places him in the genealogy of both Tylor and Frazer. Malcolm Ruel points to “the monumental peculiarity” (1982: p. 100) and historical instability of Christian notions of belief. Blackwell, Oxford, pp. Religious considerations permeate and influence all parts of a culture. Another book published in the 1960s, Lévi-Strauss’s La Pensée Sauvage (1966: ‘The Savage Mind’), denies that non-Western mental abilities are inherently inferior to those of Western readers, even if attitudes toward abstract thought may differ. Examining interactions between ‘traditional’ and Christian missionary beliefs and practices in colonial and postcolonial contexts, they show how Zionist churches have provided Tshidi with forms of identity, realized in part through new Christian idioms, which have allowed them to adapt or subvert structures of colonial and capitalist authority. Religious beliefs and practices, and why they change. Turner, V., 1967. Anthropologists have studied examples of Christian worship ever since the early days of the discipline, yet it has received less attention than other religious expressions. Like Social change, the alteration of mechanisms within the social structure, characterized by changes in cultural symbols, rules of behavior, social organizations, or value systems. Asad, T., 1993. THE CONSTRUCTION OF RElIGION AS AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL CATEGORY 123 keep clearly distinct that which theology tends to obscure: the occurrence of events (utterances, practices, dispositions) and the authorizing processes that give those events meaning and embody that meaning in concrete institutions. Roy Rappaport has also produced an influential discussion of ritual that sees it as primarily as “the performance of more or less invariant sequences of formal acts” (1999: p. 24). Princeton University Press, Princeton. Enjoying an Emerging Alternative World: Ritual in Its Own Ludic Right; Chapter 6. Jamaica Genesis: Religion and the Politics of Moral Orders. Since the early discussion by Edward Tylor, interest in the beliefs and rituals of distant, ancient, or simpler peoples has been shaped by an … The present study takes into account both these dimensions. Clifford Geertz's essay 'Religion as a cultural system' is perhaps the most influential, certainly the most accomplished, anthropological definition of religion to have appeared in the last two decades. For him, a fundamental question is: What, if anything, is particular to religious language? Anthropologists have worked more and more in urban and Western contexts often associated with deritualization and secularization, and with decreased need for common rites of passage to define accession to social roles. We see here parallels with the potent middle section of the rite of passage, where initiates are passing ‘in between’ statuses. (Ed. Needham discusses the problems involved in discussing the statement “I believe in God” with one of his Indonesian informants, who belongs to an ethnic group called the Penan. Related video shorts (0) Upload your video. Religious language. HIDE THIS PAPER GRAB THE BEST PAPER 96.6% of users find it useful. Robbins, J., 2007. A leading figure in the move toward a more phenomenological view of the body has been the American anthropologist Thomas Csordas (1997), in his studies of healing, language use, and spatial orientation among charismatic Catholics in America. a. Mahmood’s Politics of Piety (2005) focuses on a women’s movement in the mosques of Cairo. Salazar (2010) discerns two main orientations among cognitive researchers. These are … Another characteristic of obedience is human freedom. Yet something can be a religion and not include some of these dimensions. Get this from a library! The disaggregating approach helps us answer this critique. 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