ANTH 209 Lecture Notes - Lecture 22: Mama Lola, Edward Burnett Tylor, Religious Vows

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ANTH 209 1/17/2013 10:08:00 PM
Class 1: Just went over the syllabus, etc.
What comes to mind when we think of religion?
Power, Control
Belief
The choice to follow a religious lifestyle- why people do
Faith
Cultural values- come along with religion- unification?
Niqab Debate
Niqab- particular form of the veil- reveals nothing more than the eyes.
The woman testifying in court asked to wear her Niqab in court- went all the
way to the Supreme Court regarding this because the judge did not allow
her to
Many argue that having a covered face during a trial is not a fair case
Who defines religion? The question defines what one is allowed to do.
Other questions for Anthropologists
What are the origins of 'religion'?
Is religion reasonable?
What does it mean to believe? To have a religious experience?
What do rituals do?
How does religion affect the ways people live and die?
How do anthropologists study religion?
Methods
Fieldwork
Participant Observation- in depth sense of community to which you are
working
Making Connections- relating beyond the community to the broader world
'Bracketing'
Aims
Holistic Understanding- idea of making connections. Understanding religion
as being NOT the sole governing form of a person's decisions
Understanding through informants categories- not going in with
Ethnography
Course Overview
Ethnography
Framing Religion
Making "Religion"
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Anthropology's Categories
Beliefs
Experience
Reason
Rites, Rituals
Sacrifice
Signs and Symbols
Secularism
Enchanted Modernity
Death, War and Violence
Lecture 1:
Recap: Where were we last time?
Consider two questions in reference to Mama Lola- how is it ethnographic?
How is it an ethnography of religion?
Consider Durkheim's definition of religion, and why what he calls 'the sacred'
is so relevant and key to his definition of religion
There are many different definitions of religion
Is Vodou Religion? What IS Religion, anyway?
What is Vodou?
Healing process
Paying respect to ancestry
We tend to think of saints as one to whom to aspire. Brown emphasizes that
these saints also have human virtue and vices- like greed
Community solidarity and participation- identity
Mama Lola never asked Brown if she gave up her religion- there is not that
monotheistic demand
Is Vodou a religion?
Community, social aspect
There is a rite and a belief (Durkheim)
In Durkheim there is something sacred that is part of our lives. In Mama
Lola, the saints seem to live in the same realm as the people who serve
them. Could we really say that there is a different realm? Like in other
religions
"No Haitian has ever asked me if I 'believe' in Voudu"- Brown.
Maybe Vodou can actually challenge these definitions of religion
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"Haitians see no conflict between practicing Catholicism and serving the
spirits, whom they never refer to as deities"
Polytheism?
Religion is: Roman and early Christian latin: the nouns religo/religiones and
the adjective religiosus and the adverb religiose reffered primarily to the
careful performance of ritual obligations
If we say 'she reads the morning paper religiously' this is what we mean- it
is habit
In early Christian usage, Religion was a life bound by religious vows and to
enter religion meant to enter a monastery as a monk
In 1755 the definition of religion was 'virtue'
Definitions of this period emphasize virtue, piety, etc. They were referring to
states of mind not the practice
This was due to reformers (Protestant) to understand the definition of
religion to mean piety- religion was inside of you not in what you did
This was due to a shift in the very mean of religion
Mid 20th C: Tillich's defintion: Religion is the largest and most basic sense
of the world, is ultimate concern… manifest in the moral sphere as the
unconditional seriousness of moral demand… in the realm of knowledge as
the passionate longing for ultimate reality… in the aesthetic function of the
human spirit as the infinite desire to express ultimate meaning
Driving concern that people have that is in their moral lives- has to do as
much with beauty as it has to do with morality
Religion on this definition is an almost unconscious force that structures life
Religion as an internal drive
Tylor, 1870, anthropologist- Religion is the belief in supernatural
beings
New change/ new movement in the definition- he had a role
No ritual, no virtue
Tylor introduces the concept of belief in relation to supernatural beings, or
those beings who are not part of the natural world (things that are subject
to scientific study)
Why are we just talking about beings here?
How is religious belief different from ordinary belief? What is religious about
religion
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Document Summary

Class 1: just went over the syllabus, etc. The choice to follow a religious lifestyle- why people do. Niqab- particular form of the veil- reveals nothing more than the eyes. The woman testifying in court asked to wear her niqab in court- went all the way to the supreme court regarding this because the judge did not allow her to. Many argue that having a covered face during a trial is not a fair case. The question defines what one is allowed to do. Participant observation- in depth sense of community to which you are working. Making connections- relating beyond the community to the broader world. Understanding religion as being not the sole governing form of a person"s decisions. Understanding through informants categories- not going in with. Consider durkheim"s definition of religion, and why what he calls "the sacred" is so relevant and key to his definition of religion.

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