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Anth Ch12 Religion



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  • 1. Religion Monthly missive on sale At local community fair. Photo: J. Fortier
  • 2. Religion
    • What Is Religion?
    • Origins, Functions, and Expressions of Religion
    • Religion and Cultural Ecology
    • Social Con t rol
  • 3. Definitions
    • Religion is any set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices pertaining to supernatural power, whether that power be forces, gods, spirits, ghosts, or demons
    Image of Hindu demon-deity ‘Bhairav’ Photo: J. Fortier
  • 4. Definitions
    • Magic
    • Sorcery
    • Witchcraft
    Greco-Roman magic figurine; Photo: Prof. E. Pollard, SDSU
  • 5. Universality of Religion
    • Need to understand
    • Reversion to childhood feelings
    • Anxiety & uncertainty
    • Need for community
    A Hindu astrologer; Photo J.Fortier
  • 6. Animism
      • Animism is seen as basic tendency to dream of soul-others at night
      • Belief in souls that derives from the first attempt to explain dreams and like phenomena
      • Has come to be seen as a belief in soul-beings in others
    • Tylor first studied religion anthropologically and developed a taxonomy of religions
  • 7. Animism - A need to understand?
    • E. B. Tylor
      • Early humans believed in souls
      • (false) Evolutionary progression: animism>polytheism> monotheism>science
    • Nurit Bird-David
      • Relational Ontology- belief that all beings are related
  • 8. Raji woman collects Yam ‘Mother’
  • 9.
    • Buddha attained enlightenment under Ficus religiosa • Adam & Eve ate from the Fig tree
    Courtesy Woody Moise at
  • 10. Animism of the Pleiades: “The 7 Sisters” Animation of star Formations is Common across cultures
  • 11. Types of Supernatural Forces & Beings
    • Supernatural forces
    • Supernatural beings
    Folk form of Siva, Nepal. Photo: J. Fortier
  • 12. Supernatural forces
    • Inanimate
    • Mana
    • Taboo
    • Winds
    • Weather elements,
    • Bad or good luck
    Hail storm. Photo: sheila_clouds2.htm
  • 13. Mana and Taboo
      • Polynesian mana and related concept of taboo related to the more hierarchical nature of Polynesian society
      • Melanesian mana defined as sacred impersonal force that is much like the Western concept of luck
    • Mana – belief in immanent supernatural domain or life-force, potentially subject to human manipulation
  • 14. Weather as Supernatural
    • Ban Raji call weather forces ‘Hawa’a”
    • Batek of Malaysia call them ‘Hala’’
    • Thunder
    • Windstorms
    • Earthquake/’Big’ weather disasters
    Ban Raji woman struck by Hawa’a
  • 15. Supernatural beings
    • Animate
    • Gods, goddesses
    • Spirits,
    • Fairies, sprites, ogres
    • Ghosts
    • Dead ancestors
    • Totems
  • 16. Totemism
      • Totems are apical ancestor of clans
      • Members of clan did not kill or eat their totem, except once a year when the members of the clan gathered for ceremonies dedicated to the totem
    • In totemic societies, each descent group has an animal, plant, or geographical feature from which they claim descent
  • 17. Religion and Cultural Ecology
    • Sacred Cattle in India
  • 18. Religion and Cultural Ecology
        • Cattle play important adaptive role in Indian ecosystem that evolved over thousands of years
        • Hindus use cattle for transportation, traction, and manure
        • Bigger cattle eat more, making them more expensive to keep
    • Sacred Cattle in India
      • Views of Western experts are ethnocentric and incorrect because:
  • 19. Religions & Social Correlations
    • Deities mimic aspects of human society
    • Child-rearing practices
    • Complexity of the society
    • Degree of societal/governmental control
    Greek Minotaur. Photo:
  • 20. Types of Religions
    • Shamanic - shamans part-time religious intermediaries who may act as curers – these religions are characteristic of foragers but found in farming societies too
    Shaman Possessed; Photo: J. Fortier
  • 21. Kinds of Religion
      • Olympian or Polytheistic religions –appeared with states, have full-time religious specialists and have potent anthropomorphic gods who may exist as a pantheon
      • Monotheistic religions – have attributes of Olympian religions, except pantheon of gods subsumed under a single eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent being
      • Communal religions – have shamans, community rituals, multiple nature gods
  • 22. Major World Religions by Percentage of World Population 2005
      • Source: 2005. .html.
  • 23. Trends
    • Monotheistic religions growing
    • Found in highly stratified state societies
    • Fundamentalism growing
  • 24. Religion and Change
    • Religious leaders also may seek to alter or revitalize their society
    • Nativistic or Revitalization Movements
      • Social moments that occur in times of change
      • The colonial-era Iroquois reformation led by Handsome Lake is example of revitalization movement
    • Religion helps maintain social order
  • 25. Syncretisms
      • Voodoo, santeria
      • Cargo cults of Melanesia and Papua New Guinea are syncretisms of Christian doctrine with aboriginal beliefs
      • Often emerge when traditional, non-Western societies have regular contact with industrialized societies
    • Cultural mix, including religious blends, that emerge when two or more cultural traditions come into contact
  • 26. Location of Melanesian Cargo Cults • Part of Revitalization Movements
  • 27. Antimodernism and Fundamentalism
      • Tribalism, Fundamentalism, Parochialism all opposed in some ways to Globalism
    • Antimodernism – rejection of the modern in favor of what is perceived as an earlier, purer, and better way of life
  • 28. Antimodernism and Fundamentalism
      • Assert an identity separate from the larger religious group from which they arose
      • Seek to rescue religion from absorption into modern, Western culture
      • Strive to protect distinctive doctrine and way of life and of salvations
      • Many fundamentalists are politically aware citizens of nation-states
    • Fundamentalism – antimodernist movements in various religions
  • 29. A New Age Number of Americans giving no religious preference grew from 7% to 13% between 1990 and 2001
  • 30. A New Age
      • Exemption from taxation on income and property
    • Not all religions receive official recognition
      • Scientology recognized as church in U.S. but not in Germany
    In U.S. official recognition of a religion entitles it to a modicum of respect
  • 31. Secular Rituals
    • Include formal, invariant, stereotyped, earnest, repetitive behavior and rites of passage that take place in nonreligious settings
      • Many Americans seek in such apparently secular contexts as amusement parks, rock concerts, and sporting events what other people find in religious rites, beliefs, and ceremonies
  • 32. Religious Composition (in Percentages) of the Populations of the U.S., 1990 and 2001, and Canada, 1991 and 2001