Anthropology 301                               
Dr. Judkins       
Spring 2013

 

RELIGION, SOCIETY AND CULTURE

Objectives

The objectives of this course are to become familiar with examples of the enduring ethnographic literature on religion, and to consider the prominent theories of the anthropological description and analysis of religion.

Texts

Eliade, Mircea.  The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion.  Harcourt       
Evans-Pritchard, Sir E. E.  Theories of Primitive Religion. [TOPR]  Oxford UP
Evans-Pritchard, Sir E. E.  Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande.  Oxford UP
Frazer, Sir James.  The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion.  Wadsworth
Geertz, Clifford.  The Religion of Java.  U of Chicago Press
Ortiz, Alfonso.  The Tewa World: Space, Time, Being and Becoming in a Pueblo Society,
    U of Chicago Press
Speck, Frank.  Midwinter Rites of the Cayuga Longhouse.  U of Nebraska Press
Turner, V. W.  The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual.  Cornell UP

Grading

Five (5) two-three page assigned topic response/review papers during semester (3/4 of grade)
Comprehensive Final Exam (1/4 of the grade).


Final Exam: Thursday, May 9, Noon - 3:00 PM.


       
Office Hours:

Sturges 15    T/Th 11:30-1:00      Wed by appt only    245-5433   judkins@geneseo.edu

COURSE OUTLINE, LECTURE, DISCUSSION TOPICS & READING SCHEDULE

WEEK 1 - (Jan 22, 24) Key Concepts and Theoretical Orientations

    Ethnography: intellectually unique & substantive; defines the field of anthropology;
        general background; specific origins in the work of  Lewis Henry Morgan (and
        Ely S. Parker), League of the Iroquois. 1851
    Subsistence types: historic dominance of “adaptation” thesis vs. “developmental” and
        “devolutionary” theses: 20th century thought over 19th century; function over
        origins; systems over survivals
    Religion <-- Society <-- Culture = paradigm of increasing depth & influence + feedback
        Society = patterns of behavior      Culture = patterns for behavior
    Culture (meaningful complexes of shared, significant symbols;
        culture = symbols = meaning):
        “Culture is man’s adaptive dimension.”    “Man is a culture-bearing animal.”
        “A culture = a shared world of symbols.”    “Culture archives human experience”
    Ritual and Symbol (smallest units conveying meaning in a culture); VW Turner, E Leach
        Cf. Melville.  Moby Dick.  “The Whiteness of The Whale,” chapter 42
http://etext.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=Mel2Mob.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=42&division=div1   


    Reading: VW Turner, “Muchona the Hornet,” in VW Turner, The Forest of Symbols

    Reading: Evans-Pritchard, TOPR, Chapter I, “Introduction” (class discussion)   

    Suggested: Edmund Leach, “Introduction,” Political Systems of Highland Burma
        - concepts of ritual and symbol in Social Anthropology
       

WEEK 2 - (Jan 29, 31) The Individual, Magic and Psychology as Explanation of Religion I
   
    Reading: Wikipedia: “Theories of Religion” - a utilitarian, setting-the-stage overview;
        (just a “quick & dirty,” baseline preview of the topic)

    Reading: Evans-Pritchard, TOPR:
        Chapter I, “Introduction”
        Chapter II, “Psychological Theories”
   
    Video: “Trance and Dance in Bali” Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson (1939/1952)
        - Fear and psychology as common sense “explanations” vs. social anthropology

WEEK 3 - (Feb 5, 7) The Individual, Magic, and Psychology as Explanation of Religion II

    Reading: Frazer, The Golden Bough, Chapts 1-10, 24-29, 38-50, 68, 69   



WEEKS 4 & 5 - (Feb 12 - 21) Case Studies: Social Anthropology and Religion

    The Sedna story: religious world view and religious institutions of the Eskimo/Inuit

    Social Anthropology vs. “Pre-rational mentality of savages”

    Reading: Evans-Pritchard, TOPR: Chapter III, “Sociological Theories”
    Reading: Evans-Pritchard TOPR: Chapter IV, “Levy-Bruhl” - (Cf. Paul Radin)
   
    Readomg” VW Turner, The Forest of Symbols, “A Ndembu Doctor in Practice”
        (Chapt. 10)
    Reading: Evans-Pritchard, Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande,
 


WEEK 6 - (Feb 26, 28) Tools for a Social Anthropological Understanding of Religion
   
    Shamanism: Knud Rasmussen, Intellectual culture of the Iglulik Eskimos, Cf. Sedna
        - Eskimo case-studies and the general concept of “shamanism”

    Contributions of Arnold van Gennep (Rites of Passage) and Marcel Mauss (Prestation)

    Reading: VW Turner, The Forest of Symbols, “Symbols in Ndembu Ritual” (Chapt 1)
        “Betwixt and Between: the Liminal Period in Rites de Passage,” (Chapt 4) and
        “Color Classification in Ndembu Ritual” (Chapt 3)



WEEKS 7 & 8 - (March 5-14) Case Study: Iroquois Religion

    Myth Cycle; Medicine Societies & Shamanism; Revitalization

    Reading: Frank Speck, Midwinter Rites of the Cayuga Longhouse
   
    Video; “Oren Lyons: Faithkeeper: (Iroquois, with Bill Moyers, interviewer)
   
WEEK 9 - (March 26, 28) Case Studies: Pueblo Religion (Tewa & Hopi)

    The Pueblo Emergence Myth as World View Summary for the Southwest
       
    Readings: Alfonso Ortiz, The Tewa World
    Reading: Hopi Emergence Myth, handout TBA

WEEKS 10 - 12 (April 2 - 18)  Religion in Modern and Complex Societies I

    Reading: Evans-Pritchard, TOPR, Chapter V, “Conclusion”
    Reading: Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane   
   

WEEK 11 - (April 9, 11) Guest Lectures and Videos

    Lecture(s): The Enduring Magical Traditions of Western Culture
        Alchemy / Hermetic Tradition / The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

    Videos: “The Nuer” (Parts 1 - 3)
   
WEEKS 13 - 15 - (April 23 - May 7) Religion in Modern and Complex Societies II


    Reading: Clifford Geertz, The Religion of Java
    Reading: Clifford Geertz, “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight”
    Reading: Clifford Geertz, excerpts from Negara: The Theatre State in 19th Century Bali

    Video: “The Three Worlds of Bali” (Cf. Hindu “layer” of Javanese religion)

Religion: its complex and systemic relations with social phenomena

    Durhkheim: excerpt from The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life
    Video: “Ongka’s Big Moka: The Kawelka of Papua New Guinea” (1974)
   
    Tylor, “Animism”
    Frazer, The Golden Bough, extracts on “sympathetic magic”

The enduring ‘primitive mind” or ‘savage mind’ thesis

    Video: “Dead Birds” (1964)
       
    Reading: Evans-Pritchard, TOPR, Chapter IV, “Lévy-Bruhl” (class discussion)
    Reading: Paul Radin, “Preface” to Primitive Man as a Philosopher       


Marx, his “Ethnological Notebooks,” focused on the writings of Lewis Henry Morgan:
        http://libcom.org/library/karl-marx-iroquois-franklin-rosemont

Video: “The Nuer” (1970)





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FINAL EXAM: Thursday, May 9, Noon - 3:00 PM