Anth Ch12 Religion


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Anth Ch12 Religion

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