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Conclusions Anthropological Perspective Defining “Religion”

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Presentation on theme: "Conclusions Anthropological Perspective Defining “Religion”"— Presentation transcript:

1 Conclusions Anthropological Perspective Defining “Religion”
Defining “Magic” Defining “Witchcraft” Race, Nation, and Religion Individuals & Community New millennium

2 Anthropological Perspective
Understanding cultural practices from within the culture itself (emic) and from outside the culture (etic) Culture = system of symbols and meanings that people express through telling stories Culture = emergent and contested, shaped by historical relations of power

3 EX. Myerhoff Explains Venice Beach Jewish immigrants from their own perspectives, featuring the view point of Shmuel Immigrants’ culture exists in the stories they tell themselves about themselves They constantly debate and redefine their culture in the face of power negotiations: they ultimately challenged and shot down Kominsky’s leadership & were left struggling for their basic survival in a gentrifying beachfront city in LA

4 Encountering Difference
Bohannon argues that the Tiv concepts of ghosts and status are different than those of Western Europeans & US Americans But both cultures understand that Hamlet had to have been “possessed” to seek revenge: either by spirits or by intense emotions due to betrayal

5 DEFINING “RELIGION” 1. System of beliefs and practices based on a systems of symbols and meanings (Geertz) 2. 6 Dimensions: Institutional (organization and leadership) Narrative (myths, creation stories, worldview) Ritual (rites of passage, other events) Social (community formation) Ethical (moral rules) Experiential (experiencing the spirit realm, etc.)

6 EX. Falwell Fundamentalism
Harding argues that FF is a historically and politically specific form of Protestant Christianity that emerged in the 1980s Charismatic leaders challenged the trend of secular modernity, launched by the Scopes Trial in the 1920s Resulting in a merging of religion & national politics.

7 EX. Orthodox Judaism Myerhoff argues that this religion provides a sense of “community” and “spirituality” that all humans want. Strict rules of behavior organize people’s relationships, family life, sex life, as well as beliefs. Jews were chosen by God to enter into a special relationship with Him.

8 Defining “Magic” Practices, often rituals, through which a person can influence the supernatural realm Information about the unknown Predicting the future Why something happened Divination

9 EX. Songhay spirit possession
Stoller argues that the yenaandi (rain ceremony) brings rain as long as the ritual specialists are respecting & pleasing the spirits AND the society is harmonious “Magic” only works when the conditions are right.

10 EX. Wiccan Magic “real magic” = movement of energy that takes place in the practitioner’s body. Power exists in all things. Through ritual, power can be awakened & focused Do no harm. Respect for life, the earth, and the power.

11 Defining “Witchcraft”
Ability of a person to cause harm by harnessing personal power that resides in the body of a witch. Christianities associate witchcraft with Satan Neo-pagans have reclaimed & reappropriated the term “witch”

12 EX. Haitian Vodou Alourdes’ mother, Philo, harnessed her power to kill the lawyer and judge responsible for her unjust imprisonment. In order to do so, she consulted with Ogou. Yoruba folklorist warns Alourdes about “intention.”

13 “Heresy” crimes in Europe
Magic & witchcraft = crimes against God 12c. “Roman Law” revival = burned relapsed heretics Inquisitions = authorities (from Franciscan or Dominican Catholic orders) actively looked for witches throughout EU Penances like wearing the cross or pilgrimage Enforced sanctions against heretics Papal Inquisition ( ) = imprisonment, torture, execution upon minimal evidence

14 Witchcraze in Europe : witches were men and women who formally rejected Christianity , believed to have made a pact with the Devil Millions of “witches” accused, convicted, and executed Hammer Against Witches (Malleus Maleficarum, 1486) = spelled out church’s beliefs about witches, what to do w/a witch Witches—people living on the fringes--convenient excuses for the stresses of civil wars, diseases, and “enlightenment” ideas

15 Witchcraze in England & US
England: no Inquisition, no Roman law, weak tradition of heresy English witches: harmed livestock, caused diseases, & hurt children 1640s= height of WC, English civil war 1692= Salem witch trials in MA 2 girls (9 & 11 yrs.) divined to see future husbands Fits & convulsions, named 3 “witches” 19 killed, 100 jailed

16 Race, Nation, & Religion “Secular modern” (western) societies justify their actions through rational analyses of political or scientific facts The US will go to war in Afghanistan & Iraq to “protect its national borders & maintain national superiority.” Non-western societies justify their actions through “religion.” Osama Bin Ladin attacked the Towers to fight against evil in the name of Allah

17 Are “secular” & “religious” societies that different ?
The US President is “born again” and names his enemy the “axis of evil.” Religious extremism or secular modernity? Islamic countries are “protecting their borders” against increasing Western cultural & economic infiltration into Islamic countries. Secular modernity or religious extremism?

18 What is religion anyway?
Humans have justified violence through arguments based on religion and later, ideologies of race and nation. When used as a means to justify violence--religion, race, & nation are all the same! God, if she exists, would not approve.

19 Individuals & Community
Humans turn to religion & spirituality to: Feel connected to other humans & the spirit realm Cope with destabilizing transformations React against threat of secularization Ease the blows of everyday life Answer big & small questions about the mysteries of our world Feel a sense of empowerment in a world that is unpredictable and chaotic

20 Anthropology of Religion for the new millennium!
Describe how religious language, symbols, motives provide meaning during cooperation & conflict Interpret meanings of belief from practitioners’ perspectives Explain & respect diverse human values, goals, beliefs & how they are embedded in particular economic, political, & cultural contexts Anthropological knowledge has potential to reduce religious & ethnic tensions worldwide

21 What do religion, magic, and witchcraft mean to you?

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