RelS 148 / Anth 148
Religion and Anthropology
Spring Semester, 2009
Dr. Mira Z. Amiras
Comparative Religious Studies, Humanities Department / Anthropology
Mondays 1:30-4:15 in SH 241
Clark Hall 437
Office hours / email
Please do not email drafts or assignments
The aim of this course is to acquaint the student with anthropological approaches to the study of
religion, universals of ritual and belief, the evolution of religious ideation, and the cultural diversity
of belief and practice. Emphasis will be placed on the growth and development of anthropological
theory regarding religion as well as on ethnographic approaches to the study of religious and
First we will explore early approaches to the origin and development of religion.
Next, we will examine symbolic classification in myth and ritual.
We will then turn to
understanding religious practices such as shamanism, witchcraft, divination, and ancestor worship.
We will explore cross-culturally, the beliefs and practices relating to the “divine,” the “Other
World,” and extraordinary states of consciousness.
Last, we will analyze the dynamics of religious
This course is designed for the advanced student of religion and anthropology as well
as for the student with no prior background in the field.
Advanced students are encouraged to share
their expertise and to continue their research in progress.
Select at least one book each from four
of the following seven categories
(or other relevant works by the same author)
ORIGIN OF THE FAMILY, PRIVATE PROPERTY, AND THE STATE
THE GOLDEN BOUGH
TOTEM AND TABOO
CIVILIZATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS
DEATH AND THE RIGHT HAND
MUTUAL AID: A FACTOR IN EVOLUTION
Morgan, L. H.
PRIMITIVE CULTURE / RELIGION IN PRIMITIVE CULTURE
— Symbolic / Mythological Approaches
PURITY AND DANGER /
(or other books)
THE EVIL EYE
(and much more)
Durkheim E. & M. Mauss
THE ANALYST AND THE MYSTIC /
SHAMANS, MYSTICS AND DOCTORS
THE STRUCTURAL STUDY OF MYTH AND TOTEMISM
THE RAW AND THE COOKED