A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion / Edition 2

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A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion is a collection of some of the most significant classic and contemporary writings in the field. Updated in its second edition, this volume examines numerous aspects of religion in a diversity of cultures and expands upon the idea of what we mean by ‘religion’, linking it to some of the broader questions of culture and politics.
  • Collects classic and contemporary articles from the major thinkers in both North American and British anthropology
  • Emphasizes the ongoing conversation among anthropologists with respect to central questions of religious behavior
  • Presents comprehensive coverage of theory and religious practice, through time and ethnographic regions, integrated by editorial commentary
  • Includes additional classic pieces by Pouillon, Burridge, and Meyerhoff, as well as more contemporary work by Harding, De Boeck, and Palmié
  • Includes indexed bibliography arranged according to both ethnographic region and religious topics and practices
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Michael Lambek has succeeded in putting together an impressive collection of key texts and essays." (Culture and Religion, July 2009)

"The most comprehensive anthology on its subject, this is a splendid tool for teaching and a matchless scholarly resource." (International Review of Biblical Studies, 2008)

Praise for the first edition:

"[A] reader that ambitiously attempts to represent the full breadth, depth, and complexity of anthropology's investigations into religion. ... The masterly general introduction situates this anthology within the long and often difficult anthropological engagement with this most mystified and powerful realm of social action. ... [A]n excellent text." (International Social Science Review)

"A major guide to both the history of the anthropology of religion and new trends in research. ... Lambek has compiled an excellent anthology." (Journal of Empirical Theology)

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Michael Lambek is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto and the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is author of The Weight of the Past: Living with History in Mahajanga, Madagascar (2002), Knowledge and Practice in Mayotte (1993), and Human Spirits (1981), and co-editor of Tense Past: Cultural Essays in Trauma and Memory (1996) and Illness and Irony: On the Ambiguity of Suffering in Culture (2004) (both with Paul Antze).
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Table of Contents

Preface to Second Edition xi

General Introduction 1

Part I The Context of Understanding and Debate 19

Opening Frameworks 21

Introduction 21

1 Religion in Primitive Culture 23
Edward Burnett Tylor

2 The Elementary Forms of Religious Life 34
Emile Durkheim

3 The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism 48
Max Weber

4 Religion as a Cultural System 57
Clifford Geertz

Skeptical Rejoinders 77

Introduction 77

5 Remarks on Frazer’s Golden Bough 79
Ludwig Wittgenstein

6 Religion, Totemism and Symbolism 82
W. E. H. Stanner

7 Remarks on the Verb “To Believe” 90
Jean Pouillon

8 Christians as Believers 97
Malcolm Ruel

9 The Construction of Religion as an Anthropological Category 110
Talal Asad

Part II Poiesis: The Composition of Religious Worlds 127

Signs and Symbols 129

Introduction 129

10 The Logic of Signs and Symbols 131
Susanne K. Langer

11 The Problem of Symbols 139
E. E. Evans-Pritchard

12 On Key Symbols 151
Sherry B. Ortner

13 The Virgin of Guadalupe: A Mexican National Symbol 160
Eric R. Wolf

Structure, Function, and Interpretation 167

Introduction 167

14 Myth in Primitive Psychology 168
Bronislaw Malinowski

15 Folk Dialectics of Nature and Culture 176
Marshall Sahlins

16 Land Animals, Pure and Impure 183
Mary Douglas

17 A Jivaro Version of Totem and Taboo 196
Claude Lévi-Strauss

18 Text-Building, Epistemology, and Aesthetics in Javanese Shadow Theatre 206
Alton L. Becker

Moral Inversions and Spaces of Disorder 225
ntroduction 225

19 The Winnebago Trickster Figure 226
Paul Radin

20 Witchcraft and Sexual Relations: An Exploration in the Social and Semantic Implications of the Structure of Belief 238
Raymond C. Kelly

21 The Politics and Poetics of Transgression 253
Peter Stallybrass and Allon White

Conceptualizing the Cosmos 265

Introduction 265

22 Closure and Multiplication: An Essay on Polynesian Cosmology and Ritual 267
Alfred Gell

23 Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism 280
Eduardo Viveiros de Castro

Part III Praxis: Religious Action 299

The Movement in Ritual: Emergence 301

Introduction 301

24 The Control of Experience: Symbolic Action 302
Godfrey Lienhardt

25 Form and Meaning of Magical Acts 311
Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah

26 Liminality and Communitas 326
Victor Turner

Gender, Subjectivity, and the Body 341

Introduction 341

27 “Jewish Comes Up in You from the Roots” 342
Barbara Myerhoff

28 Fate in Relation to the Social Structure 350
Meyer Fortes

29 Medusa’s Hair: An Essay on Personal Symbols and Religious Experience 356
Gananath Obeyesekere

30 Spirits and Selves in Northern Sudan: The Cultural Therapeutics of Possession and Trance 368
Janice Boddy

31 The Poetics of Time in Mayan Divination 386
Dennis Tedlock

What Ritual Does: The Foundations of Order 397

Introduction 397

32 The Disconnection between Power and Rank as a Process 398
Maurice Bloch

33 Enactments of Meaning 410
Roy A. Rappaport

Part IV Historical Dynamics: Power, Modernity, and Change 429

Capitalism, Colonialism, Christianity, and Conflict 431

Introduction 431

34 New Heaven, New Earth 432
Kenelm Burridge

35 The Genesis of Capitalism amongst a South American Peasantry: Devil’s Labor and the Baptism of Money 447
Michael Taussig

36 The Colonization of Consciousness 464
John and Jean Comaroff

37 Convicted by the Holy Spirit: The Rhetoric of Fundamental Baptist Conversion 479
Susan F. Harding

38 On Being Shege in Kinshasa: Children, the Occult and the Street 495
Filip De Boeck

Religious Ethics and Politics in the State, Public Sphere, and Transnational Scene 507

Introduction 507

39 Civil Religion in America 509
Robert N. Bellah

40 Shamanic Practices and the State in Northern Asia: Views from the Center and Periphery 519
Caroline Humphrey

41 “Using the Past to Negate the Present”: Ritual Ethics and State Rationality in Ancient China 533
Mayfair Mei-hui Yang

42 Passional Preaching, Aural Sensibility, and the Islamic Revival in Cairo 544
Charles Hirschkind

43 Moral Landscapes: Ethical Discourses among Orthodox and Diaspora Jains 560
Anne Vallely

44 Candomblé in Pink, Green and Black: Re-scripting the Afro-Brazilian Religious Heritage in the Public Sphere of Salvador, Bahia 573
Mattijs van de Port

45 Martyr vs. Martyr: The Sacred Language of Violence 590
Galit Hasan-Rokem

Afterword 597

46 Evidence and Presence, Spectral and Other 598
Stephan Palmié

Part V Research Tools 611

A Guide to the Literature 613

Bibliography 630

Index 673

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