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080009 VO+UE M320 Culture - History - Society: Anthropology of Religion (2018W)

Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 30 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Monday 01.10. 16:15 - 17:45 Seminarraum 2 (4.Stock) EE Hanuschgasse
Monday 08.10. 16:15 - 17:45 Seminarraum 2 (4.Stock) EE Hanuschgasse
Monday 15.10. 16:15 - 17:45 Seminarraum 2 (4.Stock) EE Hanuschgasse
Monday 22.10. 16:15 - 17:45 Seminarraum 2 (4.Stock) EE Hanuschgasse
Monday 29.10. 16:15 - 17:45 Seminarraum 2 (4.Stock) EE Hanuschgasse
Monday 05.11. 16:15 - 17:45 Seminarraum 2 (4.Stock) EE Hanuschgasse
Monday 12.11. 16:15 - 17:45 Seminarraum 2 (4.Stock) EE Hanuschgasse
Monday 19.11. 16:15 - 17:45 Seminarraum 2 (4.Stock) EE Hanuschgasse
Monday 26.11. 16:15 - 17:45 Seminarraum 2 (4.Stock) EE Hanuschgasse
Monday 03.12. 16:15 - 17:45 Seminarraum 2 (4.Stock) EE Hanuschgasse
Monday 10.12. 16:15 - 17:45 Seminarraum 2 (4.Stock) EE Hanuschgasse
Monday 07.01. 16:15 - 17:45 Seminarraum 2 (4.Stock) EE Hanuschgasse
Monday 14.01. 16:15 - 17:45 Seminarraum 2 (4.Stock) EE Hanuschgasse
Monday 21.01. 16:15 - 17:45 Seminarraum 2 (4.Stock) EE Hanuschgasse
Monday 28.01. 16:15 - 17:45 Seminarraum 2 (4.Stock) EE Hanuschgasse


Aims, contents and method of the course

This course is meant for learners already familiar with the general topics and issues of the Anthropology of Religion and in particular for students who want to deepen their understanding of the vast and multiform galaxy of religious phenomena in Europe as well as in the interconnected world, but also in past societies. The course has in fact been designed to present and discuss both ethnographic and historical examples, yet its main aim consists of the teaching of notions, methods and theoretical tools that may be applied to the factual study and interpretation of ethnographic evidence and/or historical sources.

Notions and categories like "religion", "tradition", "ritual", "myth" and others will be critically examined, stressing the theoretical and methodological variations to which their analytical use has been subject according to different anthropological currents (functionalism, structuralism, interpretative anthropology, historical anthropology, post-modern anthropology, etc.). A number of case-studies and first-hand empirical will be presented and discussed to exemplify the ways in which these notions and methods have been or can be used.

The provisional structure of the course is the following:
a): What is religion? How do we study specific religions scientifically (anthropologically)?
b): Rituality and rituals
c): Festivals and public events
d): Mythology and myths
e): Religion and economy
f): Religion and the body
g): Religion and post-socialism
h): Polytheisms, monotheisms, indigenous religions, new religious movements: a survey
i): Recapitulation and final considerations

At the end of this course, the learners will be able to interpret a variety of sources, explain "religion" as both a critical notion and a specific social phenomenon, and have a broader and deeper understanding of religious practices more in general.
They will be able to use these critical skills in the ethnographic as well as historical study of religions.
Given the importance of religion in both past and present societies, having a critical and analytical approach in the study of specific religions will enhance their social sensibility and their capabilities in decision making and understanding societal structures, transformations, and tensions.

Assessment and permitted materials

Die Lehrveranstaltung ist prüfungsimmanent; kontinuierliche Anwesenheit (2x Fehlen erlaubt).
Die Punkte für die PL werden wie folgt vergeben:
The students will be openly asked to actively participate in the teaching and learning processes. They will be encouraged to ask questions and contribute during the lessons and will also be given the opportunity to express their opinions voluntarily about the readings that will be handed out and read in itinere (20 points). Single students or small groups of students (2 to 3 people) will also be asked to present and discuss some articles chosen from the course literature (30 points). Nevertheless, the main learning methods will be attendance and participation in classes and the individual study.
The final assessment will be undertaken through an oral exam with the teacher (50 points).

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Für den erfolgreichen Abschluss der LV sind zumindest 50 von 100 möglichen Punkten zu erreichen.
>= 87,5 sehr gut (1)
>= 75 gut (2)
>= 62,5 befriedigend (3)
>= 50 genügend (4)
< 50 nicht genügend (5)

Examination topics

The exam will be held by means of questions/answers and discussions about the course and literature contents. Its purpose will be to ascertain the students’ knowledge of said contents, but also his/her capacity to acquire and autonomously use critical thinking and research methods.

Reading list

Section 1: General readings (compulsory literature)

- Bowie F., The Anthropology of Religion. An Introduction, Blackwell, Oxford 2006, chapters: 2 ("The Body as Symbol"), 6 ("Ritual Theory"), 7 ("Shamanism"), 10 ("Myth"; pages 267-284)

- Eller J. D., Introducing Anthropology of Religion, Routledge, New-York-London 2007, chapters: 1 ("Studying religion anthropologically"; pages 1-11), 4 ("Myth", pages 82-95), 5 ("Ritual and Religious Behavior"), 7 ("Religious Change and New Religious Movements"; pages 160-172)

- Armin W. Geertz, "Long-lost Brothers: On the Co-histories and Interactions Between the Comparative Science of Religion and the Anthropology of Religion", in Numen, n. 61, 2014, pages. 255280

- Lambek, Michael, "Introduction", in A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion. Second Edition, Blackwell, Malden 2008, pp. 1-18

- Wilson B. C., "From the Lexical to the Polythetic: A Brief History of the Definition of Religion", in T. A. Idinopulos, B. C. Wilson (eds.), What is Religion?, Brill, Leiden-Boston 1998, (only the pages 141-153)

Additional readings
(every student will have to choose and study at home, or present in the class, at least one of the following texts in addition to the compulsory ones):
diese Liste mit weiteren Titel werden von den Lehrenden in der 1. Stunde ausgegeben

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:31