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Department of Anthropology University of California, Irvine course description


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SYLLABUS
RELIGION AND SOCIETY


Dr. Sheila O’Rourke

Department of Anthropology


University of California, Irvine

COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course is an anthropological exploration of religions in diverse cultural and historical contexts. Our focus will be on relations of power, social order, social change, gender, and the role that religion plays in modernity, transnationalism, and globalization. We will investigate the performance of rites and rituals, and the cultural expressions of religious beliefs and practices. Through comparative and critical strategies, we will look at how religion interacts with, and is embedded in other aspects of society. In doing so, we will find religious elements in unexpected places. We will study anthropological theories of culture and religion from the classical canon, in addition to contemporary approaches, and apply them to a variety of topics. While respecting the efficacy of all systems of belief, we will think about how religions orient people to their social worlds in ways that are systematically related to historical and cultural change.




COURSE SCHEDULE



LECTURE ONE

Introduction to the Anthropology of Religion and Society



SUGGESTED READING: Malinowski, “The Role of Magic and Religion”

LECTURE TWO


A Historical Overview of Anthropological Theories of Religion

SUGGESTED READINGS: Durkheim, “The Social as Sacred”

Geertz, “Religion as a Cultural System”



SUGGESTED MEDIA: The Village


LECTURE THREE

Belief and Ritual: The Protestant Ethic, Capitalism, and the Nation State

Performance and the Politics of Representation

SUGGESTED READINGS: Turner, “Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period”

Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of



Capitalism

SUGGESTED MEDIA: Part One of Full Metal Jacket



LECTURE FOUR

Religion and Art, Religion and the Body



SUGGESTED READINGS: Douglas, “Taboo,” and “The Abominations of Leviticus

Hegland, “Flagellation and Fundamentalism:

(Trans)forming Meaning, Identity, and Gender Through

Pakistani Women's Rituals of Mourning”




LECTURE FIVE

Cults and Social Transformation: Ghost Dancers, Cargo from the Sky, Charismatic Leaders, and Messianic UFO’s



SUGGESTED READING: Navaro-Yashin, “The Cult of Ataturk” from Faces of the

State: Secularism and Public Life in

Turkey



LECTURE SIX

Witchcraft, Satanism, and the Politics of Representation



SUGGESTED READINGS: Luhrmann, Persuasion of the Witch’s Craft

Rountree, “How Magic Works: New Zealand Feminist

Witches’ Theories of Ritual Action”

Aleister Crowley, “The Cross of a Frog,” and “De

Thaumaturgia”

Lewis, “Diabolical Authority: Anton LaVey, The Satanic



Bible and the Satanist ‘Tradition’"

SUGGESTED MEDIA: Rosemary’s Baby



LECTURE SEVEN

Religion in Japan: Ascetic Discipline and the Uncanny



SUGGESTED READING: Schattschneider, “My Mother’s Garden: Transitional

Phenomena on a Japanese Sacred

Mountain.”

SUGGESTED MEDIA: Ugetsu Monogatari



LECTURE EIGHT

GLBTQ Spirituality and Community



SUGGESTED READING: Boellstorff, “Between Religion and Desire: Being Muslim

and Gay in Indonesia”



SUGGESTED MEDIA: The Lost Tribe


LECTURE NINE

The Paranormal Media Blitz: Ghost Busters, Psychics, and Spirit Mediums



SUGGESTED READING: Turner, “The Reality of Spirits: A Tabooed or Permitted

Field of Study?”



SUGGESTED MEDIA: Ghost Hunters


LECTURE TEN

Beliefs and Practices in Contemporary African Cultures



SUGGESTED READINGS: Evans-Pritchard, “Witchcraft Explains Unfortunate

Events”


Gable, “The Funeral and Modernity in Manjaco”

Badstuebner, "Drinking the Hot Blood of Humans":

Witchcraft Confessions in a South African

Church”


SUGGESTED MEDIA: Les Matres Fous and Everything Must Come to Light

LECTURE ELEVEN

Consuming Voodoo: Exorcising Miscegenation



SUGGESTED READING: Brown, Moma Lola: A Voodou Priestess in Brooklyn

SUGGESTED MEDIA: I Walked with a Zombie



LECTURE TWELVE

Gender, Modernity, and Religious Fundamentalisms



SUGGESTED READINGS: Bernal, “Islam, Transnational Culture and Modernity in

Rural Sudan”

Stam, “Multiculturalism and the Neoconservatives”

SUGGESTED MEDIA: Faith and Politics: The Christian Right

and Afghanistan Unveiled









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