anthro101lec21.mar10.y08

anthro101lec21.mar10.y08 - Anthropology 101 Winter 2008...

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Anthropology 101 Tom Fricke Winter 2008 03.10.08 Lecture 21: Anthropological Approaches to Religion [Note: These notes contain a good deal, in the form of examples, not covered in class-- focus on concepts and definitions; use the examples to help you understand] I. Some First Things Humans, so far as we know, have everywhere created worlds outside of the one in which they live and they have populated these worlds with beings that differ in crucial ways from those we see around us. These worlds, the categories they reveal, the meanings they imply are all a part of what we call religion . And the belief systems associated with them have attracted the attention of anthropologists since the beginnings of the discipline. --> early anthropologists were concerned to find the common ground uniting all of these belief systems and came up with a range of definitions: E.B. Tylor: "belief in spiritual beings" was the common feature of all religion For others: the common feature was that religions extended "social" relations to the nonhuman, or superhuman beings, or to forces (such as Goody) Others: look at religion in terms of "the sacred" as opposed to the profane or the secular (following Durkheim) A. The early anthropologists, as with everything else they did, were extremely concerned with typologies, putting the types of religion into categories that would then be associated with an evolutionary view of the world: Thus, there was: Animism :the natural world here was inhabited by spirits that lived in the objects of the environment such as stones, trees, and the like Totemism :based on the belief in the relationship between particular clans and birds, animals, or plant ancestors (in Melanesia a popular ancestor is the snake, for example) Ancestor worship :the belief that one's own ancestors entered into a continuing but spiritual relationship after death (the Kwaio of the Solomons; Chinese) Polytheism :the belief in many gods of roughly equivalent stature Monotheism :belief in a single god and, of course, representative of a later and more advanced phase of evolution 1
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Anthropology 101 Tom Fricke Winter 2008 03.10.08 Lecture 21: Anthropological Approaches to Religion We know now, of course, that these are simplistic schemes for the categorization of religions; the world is more complex and a single culture may hold to a mixture of belief systems --> Latin American "Catholics" incorporating a variety of indigenous Native
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This note was uploaded on 04/04/2008 for the course ANTHRO 101 taught by Professor Peters during the Winter '08 term at University of Michigan.

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anthro101lec21.mar10.y08 - Anthropology 101 Winter 2008...

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