RelS 122 / Anth 122
Magic, Science and Religion
Spring Semester, 2010
Dr. Mira Z. Amiras
Comparative Religious Studies, Humanities Department / Anthropology
Anth 122—Section 1: 28762
RelS 122—Section 1: 27789
This syllabus is for Sections 1 and 2 only
Weds 1:30-4:15 PM and 6:30-9:15 PM both in SH 241
Clark Hall 437
|| Mailbox is in the Humanities Office Clark Hall 419
Office hours / email
Please do not email drafts or assignments
This course is designed to pose the question ‘what difference does it make what cosmologies, beliefs, and
practices people and/or societies around the globe advocate, and even more important, what are the consequences
of those beliefs and practices?’
Throughout the term, we will explore the ways in which peoples have attempted to understand and gain mastery
over the human, natural and/or supernatural worlds.
We will begin with a brief summary of evolutionary,
functionalist, structuralist, and dynamic approaches to magic, science and religion.
The emphasis of the course,
however, will be on the importance of cosmology, worldviews and shifting paradigms.
The questions we will be
interested in exploring include:
What are the differences between magic, science and religion?
contradictory or complementary?
Are they used for the same purposes?
Do they ever merge or blend?
happens when religious cosmology and scientific paradigms conflict in the understanding of the universe, nature,
society, and the role of the individual?
In addition, we spend a good deal of time on the rise of mass movements, particularly under colonial and post-
colonial conditions, when cosmological conflict is both widespread and potentially virulent.
We explore the life
cycle of mass movements—from nativistic to millenarian—in the quest to create a more satisfying culture.
look at and compare the intended and unintended consequences of such movements, both historically and on the
contemporary global stage, focusing for the most part upon societies outside the U.S.
The theoretical lenses
employed in MSR help students not only understand contemporary cosmological conflicts, but also predict
probable and/or inevitable outcomes to such conflict.
This course should be of interest to students of science (both theoretical and applied), technology and industry as
well as philosophy, anthropology, social and behavioral sciences, and the humanities and the arts.