Anthro2 Lectures #18 and #19 Notes: Health and Religion
Anthro2 Lectures #18 and #19 Notes: Health and Religion

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University of California - Santa Barbara
Jeffrey Hoelle

This Week: Religion and Health • How are beliefs functional/harmful for a society and individuals? • What is the difference between ◦ Science ◦ Magic ◦ Superstition ◦ Folk remedy ◦ Medicine • Focus on analytical skills for your projects causality and critical thinking • CAUSE —> EFFECT • Today: ◦ Superstition, magic, and beliefs ◦ Religion and Syncretism ◦ Religion isn’t exclusive with critical thinking • Cargo cult ◦ Melanesia ◦ Followed contact with colonial societies and intensified during WWII ◦ “John Fromm” ◦ Islanders’ observed that cargo was the source of power of Europeans and Americans ◦ Rituals based on imitation of white man will bring cargo and material wealth ▪ Military marching and uniforms ▪ Made airplanes and runways to coax the cargo ◦ This relates to our society because not everything we do is necessarily scientific ▪ We make attempts to influence the outcome & control fate • If it works, don’t stop! ◦ If a behavior is rewarded, we will usually repeat the behavior and hope for same reward ▪ Ex: Pavlov’s dogs • Magic ◦ The highest rise activities (hitting and pitching) have more magic than fielding ◦ Origins? We continue despite the lack of empirical relationship or proven causality ◦ But, believing in supernatural forces can improve performance • Risk and Supernatural Intervention ◦ When do you think people pray the most or are the most superstitious? ▪ In high risk situations! • Don’t tempt fate/anger the gods ◦ Superstitions that bring negative effects ▪ Step on a crack ▪ Break a mirror ▪ Opening an umbrella inside • Fetishes: charms and supernatural objects believed to embody supernatural power ◦ “Lucky” ▪ Ex: rock, rabbits foot, tshirt, pencil, etc. • All societies have religion ◦ A social process that helps to order society, provide • Syncretism: merging two or more religious traditions and hiding the beliefs, symbols, and practices of one behind similar attributes of another African Religions • Myths about a split between creator deity and humans • A pantheon of supernaturals • Elaborate initiation rituals and sacrifices • Close links with healing Santo Daime in Acre, Brazil • Mix of Catholocism, African animism (the belief that all living and non living objects are imbued with spirit), indigenous shamanism (intermediaries between spirit and human world), and Ayahuasca (a brew of jungle plants with psychoactive properties that is used in religious ceremonies and by Shamans to enter into vision) Syncretism and globalization cultures interact and change: Four Models of Cultural Interaction • Clash of civilizations: conflict model • McDonaldization: take over and homogenization model • Hybridization: blending model • Localization: local cultural remaking and transformation of global culture Health • In the US, what is healthy changes, but throughout history it is always “scientifically proven” or tied to Western biomedical authority • Changes in diet, treatment, etc are related to…. ◦ To new forms of understanding ◦ The “natural” or “best” solution ◦ But Also to ingrained power structures (lobbies) and vested interests ◦ Ex: cigarettes ▪ They used to be associated with health (the packages had people exercising on them). ▪ They also associated cigarettes with sex and relationships. ▪ ALSO, they used psychological “facts” and scientific facts (smart people do it!) ▪ They put the president on the package to make it “justified” to smoke Voodoo • In Haiti in the 1980s, there were claims of people that had been
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