The Anthropology of Religion|
Spring 2020 not offered
What do we study when we study religion? We can observe practices, record speech, examine objects and actions--but what do these things tell us? If religion is about belief, what can we say about belief from documenting actions? Perhaps we must conclude that religion is not about belief, but if so, are in danger of "explaining away" the very phenomena we seek to understand? This course will introduce students to a cross-cultural, comparative perspective on religious practice and belief in order to critically reflect on the role of methodology and research design in the study of religion and the social sciences more broadly. How do we know what we know? How do we plan research in order to find out what we want to know? The course has a significant methods component. Students will be expected to do field research exercises in a local religious community and prepare a methodology research proposal for a fictional or real project as a final assignment. Methodological exercises will be interspersed with ethnographic texts that allow us to reflect on how religion is studied, experienced, and explained. Students planning theses or other research projects with an ethnographic component, in any social science field, may use the class and the final assignment to conceptualize and plan their projects.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Seminar||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ANTH)(RELI)(SISP-Reli Conc)
J. Zigon, HIV IS GOD'S BLESSING: REHABILITATING MORALITY IN NEOLIBERAL RUSSIA
J. Boddy, WOMBS AND ALIEN SPIRITS
C. Geertz, RITUAL AND SOCIAL CHANGE AND THICK DESCRIPTION
R. Rosaldo, CULTURE AND TRUTH
A. Chan, MIRACULOUS RESPONSE: DOING POPULAR RELIGION IN CONTEMPORARY CHINA
|Examination and Assignments: |
Readings and reading responses, field research exercises (mapping, interviews, focused description). The final paper is a 10-15 page research proposal. The course can be used by students to prepare for senior thesis research involving field research in any field, but class exercises should be conducted in a religious context.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
The course fulfills a "Method & Theory" requirement for the Religion department major.
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