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William Girard (Section 01)
(Offered as RELI 205 and ANTH 212) What does it mean to study religion from an anthropological perspective? This course aims to answer this question through an examination of the specific theories, methodologies, sites, beliefs, and practices that anthropologists engage with as they investigate religious phenomena. We will begin by reading some of the most prominent attempts within anthropology to theorize religion. We will work to understand these theories both as enduring resources for understanding religion today and as the product of a specific historical moment in which scholars widely assumed that religion would steadily wither away as cultures “progressed” towards modernity. Of course, in the end, religion did not vanish from the modern world. In fact, religion’s role in public and political life is as important as ever. In order to better understand religion’s ongoing entanglements with the modern world, the course will then turn to consider how contemporary anthropologists describe its enduring role within other cultural and social phenomena such as race, politics, the economy, colonialism, and gender.
Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Girard.