Ritual Observation Project
This project has three purposes: (1) to expose you to a religion other than your own, (2) to have
you apply anthropological principles learned in class to a specific situation, and (3) to have you
experience anthropological fieldwork.
Choosing a Religion for Study
Your first task will be to choose a religion. Because we live in a large metropolitan area, we are
surrounded by a great diversity of religious practices. This makes this project possible and
exciting. Some questions you may ask in selecting a religion to study are: Do you know someone
who could be an informant? Do you know the location of a specific church/temple/etc.? Will the
ceremony be at least primarily in English? An answer of “no” to any of these questions does not
mean you cannot study that religion; it just means it may be a bit more difficult.
If you have no idea what religion you would like to study, consider looking at
Encyclopedia of American Religions.
Possibilities include Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian,
Methodist, Pentecostal, Baptist, Adventists (including Jehovah's Witness), Fundamentalist,
Mormon, Coptic, Greek or Russian Orthodox, Unitarian, Christian Science, Jewish, Muslim,
Baha'i, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, New Age, Pagan, or Wicca. Note that with certain religions you
will need to make a further choice between different subgroups (e.g., Orthodox, Conservative,
Reform, and Reconstruction Judaism).
The paper is