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ANTH100 Lecture Notes - James George Frazer, Polytheism

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Jennifer Liu

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ANTH 102 Chapter 10: Religion March 11
Magic Religion Science
- EB Taylor (1870s)
All 3 are alike
Science is superior and most rational
- Sir James Frazer (1890s)
Magic was way for people to compel supernatural forces
Religion was way to please gods and supernatural beings
IMITATIVE MAGIC [something stands in for something else. Basis for use of voodoo
dolls]”like produces like” vs. CONTAGIOUS MAGIC [something that was part of you
before, now separated, is still connected to you which can do harm to you. Be careful of
clothes/teeth/fingernails you leave behind] “ongoing relationship with things left
Sports Magic? Sports players use symbols to manage anxiety in unpredictable situations
Immigrant Groups Religion can provide a community for immigrant groups
Afterlivesour beliefs about the afterlife shapes how we behave now
Calling someone’s religion a cult is delegitimizing it
Pilgrimage Travel to sacred places for purpose of religious devotion or rituals ex. Jerusalem
Rituals behaviors in which there is no connections between the means and desired ends
Rituals of Inversion a ritual which normal social roles/orders are temporarily reversed. Functioned to
relieve pressure. Ex. Mardi Gras
Fetishes charms, material objects believed to own supernatural powers that aid/protect the owner.
Ex. Chains, uniform numbers, a specific hat
Clothing both choice and order in which it is put on, combines the element of ritual and fetish ex. An
undone button
^all serves to manage the uncertainty in baseball
Myth [stories about supernatural beings. A narrative with a plot that involved supernatural]
Doctrine [direct and formal statements about how to conduct ones self about religious beliefs]
Who are the Supernaturals?
- Animatism [unseen, dispersed, potentially everywhere, neither good nor evil, but powerful so
it’s dangerous. Has no personality. Ex. Electricity, volcanos]
- Animism [natural objects are animated by spirits. Located in a particular object/personality]
- Ancestral sprits [souls of ghosts/ancestors. Consistent with belief that human have a
nonphysical spirits. Can have emotions, feelings, appetites. Different kids have different
- Gods and goddesses [individual identities. Polytheism gods ranked according to power]
- Minor supernatural beings [not spirits, people don’t pray to them for help. Have some
supernatural capability. Trickster role. Ex. Pixies]
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