A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion / Edition 2

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In the second edition of the highly acclaimed Reader in the Anthropology of Religion, Michael Lambek collects some of the most significant classic and contemporary writings on the subject, creating an unparalleled guide to the past, present, and future of the field.

Including nine additional selections, among them classic pieces by Pouillon, Burridge, and Meyerhoff, as well as more contemporary work by Harding, De Boeck, and Palmie, 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. Lambek begins with a general introduction to familiarize the reader with the subject matter, and then prefaces each selection with helpful contextual remarks and suggestions for further reading. Additionally, the inclusion of research tools and an extensive bibliography lends unsurpassed accessibility to this text.

About the Author:
Michael Lambek is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto and the London School of Economics

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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.

General Introduction.

Part I: The Context of Understanding and Debate:.

Opening Frameworks: Introduction.

1. Religion in Primitive Culture: Edward Burnett Tylor.

2. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life: Emile Durkheim.

3. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: Max Weber.

4. Religion as a Cultural System: Clifford Geertz.

Skeptical Rejoinders: Introduction.

5. Remarks on Frazer's Golden Bough: Ludwig Wittgenstein.

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

7. Remarks on the Verb “To Believe”: Jean Pouillon.

8. Christians as Believers: Malcolm Ruel.

9. The Construction of Religion as an Anthropological Category: Talal Asad.

Part II: Poiesis: The Composition of Religious Worlds:.

Signs and Symbols: Introduction.

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

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

12. On Key Symbols: Sherry B. Ortner.

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

Structure, Function, and Interpretation: Introduction.

14. Myth in Primitive Psychology: Bronislaw Malinowski.

15. Folk Dialectics of Nature and Culture: Marshall Sahlins.

16. Land Animals, Pure and Impure: Mary Douglas.

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

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

Moral Inversions and Spaces of Disorder: Introduction.

19. The Winnebago Trickster Figure: Paul Radin.

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

21. The Politics and Poetics of Transgression: Peter Stallybrass and Allon White.

Conceptualizing the Cosmos: Introduction.

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

23. Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism: Eduardo Viveiros de Castro.

Part III: Praxis: Religious Action:.

The Movement in Ritual: Emergence: Introduction.

24. The Control of Experience: Symbolic Action: Godfrey Lienhardt.

25. Form and Meaning of Magical Acts: Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah.

26. Liminality and Communitas: Victor Turner.

Gender, Subjectivity, and the Body: Introduction.

27. 'Jewish Comes Up in You from the Roots': Barbara Myerhoff.

28. Fate in Relation to the Social Structure: Meyer Fortes.

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

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

31. The Poetics of Time in Mayan Divination: Dennis Tedlock.

What Ritual Does: The Foundations of Order: Introduction.

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

33. Enactments of Meaning: Roy A. Rappaport.

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

Capitalism, Colonialism, Christianity, and Conflict: Introduction.

34. New Heaven, New Earth: Kenelm Burridge.

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

36. The Colonization of Consciousness: John and Jean Comaroff.

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

38. On Being Shege in Kinshasa: Children, the Occult and the Street: Filip de Boeck.

Religious Ethics and Politics in the State, Public Sphere, and Transnational Scene: Introduction.

39. Civil Religion in America: Robert N. Bellah.

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

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

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

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

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

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


46. Evidence and Presence, Spectral and Other: Stephan Palmié.

Part V: Research Tools:.

A Guide to the Literature.



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