Anthropology of Religion

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This course is under review for 2021. Course registration will open to accepted students once courses are confirmed.

Course Description

In simplest terms anthropologists study humans and why humans do what they do. In this course we will investigate one specific branch of anthropology, Anthropology of Religion, which analyzes the social institution of religion and why humans engage in this practice.

Throughout the course we will survey the main genealogies of anthropological scholarship on religion from Marx, Weber, and Durkheim to the current day. Thus our readings will engage in readings that address the demystification of religion as a form of cultural critique (the genealogy of Marx), the relationship of religion and politics (the genealogy of Weber), and the role and function of religion and its social practices (the genealogy Durkheim). Special topics of study include sacrifice, symbols, supernatural beings (gods and spirits), magic, myth, ritual, women and gender, ecology, religion in sociocultural changes, and religion, conflict and peace. The student will be asked to be an anthropologist of religion and study one particular religious tradition using ethnographic methods throughout the three weeks (s)he is here.

By the end of the course, the student will know the main genealogies of anthropological scholarship and how that developed in the 20th century, and have a small sense of what it means to do ethnographic fieldwork. Knowing this will lay the foundation for future study in anthropology or religious studies at the college or graduate level.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEAN0934
  • Length: 3 weeks

Program Information

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Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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