Anthropology of Religion


Anthropology of Religion

A group for discussion of all aspects of the anthropology of religion. Discussion can concern cross-cultural analysis, or specific religions. Any other topic tangentially related to religion is also welcome, including folklore studies, etc.

Members: 323
Latest Activity: Jul 26

Discussion Forum

Ludwig Feuerbach and Naivety 2 Replies

Started by Kate Walters. Last reply by Tobia Farnetti Jan 28, 2011.

Comment Wall

Comment by John McCreery on June 4, 2009 at 9:40am
In time now so long ago that it seems like another galaxy, I was a student of Victor Turner and wrote a dissertation titled "The Symbolism of Popular Taoist Magic." That research led to an article in the Journal of Chinese Religions, "Why don't we see some real money here? Offerings in Chinese religion," then my one contribution to American Ethnologist (February 1995) "Negotiating with demons: The uses of magical language." More recently there is a chapter on traditional Chinese religions in Ray Scupin, ed., Religion and Culture, An Anthropological Focus. My current research focus, however, is Japanese advertising. A former e-mail signature sums up the career: In Taiwan I studied magicians, in Japan I joined the guild. Anyway, I've joined up to learn what interests people these days.
Comment by Donizete Rodrigues on June 11, 2009 at 1:24pm
Hi, I'm the new member. I'm going from Portugal to Columbia University, Dep. of Religion, as associate member. My research project is on Brazilian Immigration and Pentecostalism in New York City. I would like to contact anthropologist with the same focus and others issues on religion.
Comment by Paul Wren on June 13, 2009 at 7:29pm
I just received a mailing from the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at USC announcing a call for proposals. It seems they have $3.5 million in social science research grant money they want to distribute as part of the

Pentecostal and Charismatic Research Initiative

Here's a snippet from the letter:

"PCRI... is intended to provide a scholarly framework to investigate Penteconstalism and the various renewal movements that have emerged in Roman Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, and mainline Potestantism.

PCRI will provide up to $3.5 million in grant funding to support social science research on Penteconstal and charismatic Christianity in Aria, Africa, Latin America (including the Caribbean) and the former Soviet Union."

They will award 7 grants to regional centers and 15 grants to individuals.

Thought this looked interesting! The deadline for FRPs is August 1, 2009.
Comment by Jonathan H. Harwell on July 9, 2009 at 5:34pm
Hi, librarian here who's a grad student in anthropology, studying Quakers in Georgia.
Comment by Sandro Shanidze on July 31, 2009 at 11:41am
Someone is studiing Quakers in Georgia?O_o why haven't I heard of it?
Comment by Piers Locke on September 19, 2009 at 12:31pm
Hi- I'm a lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Wales, Lampeter, where I am about to teach a course called Ritual and Belief in South Asia. In my research I am interested in the role of ritual and belief in captive elephant management in Nepal, particularly elephant training as a rite of passage for handler and elephant alike.
Comment by Priscilla Karin Rodgers on September 21, 2009 at 2:47am
JOSEPH CAMPBELLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Comment by Priscilla Karin Rodgers on September 24, 2009 at 8:53pm
Has anyone heard of Ken Wilber? I think he is very important to the study on religion and anthropology...what are your thouights on him?
Comment by Piers Locke on September 24, 2009 at 10:16pm
Wilber's a product of the California Institute of Integral Studies, founded in the late 60s by disciples of Sri Aurobindo. I think Integral Studies has been a rubric that's been used to sell itself to the self-help markets, promising wisdom for people who wish to succeed in business or realise their true potentials. That's not to say he isn't an interesting thinker like other mavericks operating outside the academy like Terence McKenna or Robert Anton Wilson (McKenna's Food of the Gods is an incredible book which got me engaged with ethnobotany before I even knew what it was, and I still regularly use excerpts of Anton Wilson's Quantum Psychology in my anthropology teaching). I have a vague recollection that he may have incorporated some of Maturana and Varela's ideas about autopoeisis, also known as second order cybernetics. He might be an interesting subject for an anthropological study of the market in religious thinkers selling to secular publics who discover they still have 'religious' needs.
Comment by John McCreery on October 29, 2009 at 9:18pm
I have just drafted the following prologue for my presentation this coming November in Taipei. In it, I suggest that the anthropology of religion has a gaping hole, a lack of attention to Chinese religion. I would be delighted if anyone can point me to sources that demonstrate that I am about to make a fool of myself.

When Ray Scupin asked me to contribute a chapter on "Traditional Chinese Religion" to his Religion and Culture: An Anthropological Focus,it had been nearly a decade since I had looked at research on Chinese religion. Reviewing what had appeared in that decade, I was especially pleased to note the embrace of anthropological topics and concepts by social historians. Valerie Hansen's Changing Gods in Medieval China, 1127-1276 and Angela Zito's Of Body and Brush: Grand Sacrifice as Text/Performance in Eighteenth-Century China were particularly striking contributions. In both scope and depth, the study of Chinese religion appeared to be flourishing.
But approaching the subject from another angle, anthropological discussions of religion, I discovered that Chinese religion was rarely, if ever, mentioned. It is not hard to imagine why. The study of Chinese religion is, overwhelmingly, China focused. Other religions in other places are rarely or only briefly mentioned in studies in which Chinese religion is a major topic. Without systematic comparative studies, the study of Chinese religion remains largely a world of its own. The religious traditions that have shaped and continue to shape the lives of a quarter of humanity are, to anthropologists who study other traditions, of interest only to specialists in China.

It would be easy to sigh and to speculate that, in a world of information explosion and ever-increasing specialization, where serious contributions like those mentioned above require a combination of linguistic skills and scholarly dedication that precludes other interests, this trend is inevitable. But Chinese religions are, in fact, the religions of a quarter of humanity. An anthropology of religion that ignores them has a gaping hole to fill. Why that hole exists and what might be done to fill it is the question this paper explores by starting with another, apparently simpler, question.

I invite you to imagine a tourist visiting Japan. She has seen a number of Buddhist temples and Shinto Shrines. Friends take her to Yokohama's Chinatown to eat dinner. On the way to the restaurant they stop for a look at a Chinese temple, the Guan Di Miao. The colorful baroque decoration of the Chinese temple contrasts sharply with the subdued elegance of Japanese Buddhist temples and shrines. The red face and wide-open eyes of the Chinese deity on this altar differs dramatically from the lowered eye-lids and meditative serenity of the Japanese Buddhas she has seen. She asks, "Why do Chinese gods look like that?" This paper examines how we might answer that question. Along the way it suggests topics for further research that might begin to fill that hole in the anthropology of religion where Chinese religions belong.


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