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Chapter 16

Week 11 - Harris Chapter 16, Course Reader Gmelch.doc

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Department
Anthropology
Course
ANTH 1150
Professor
Satsuki Kawano
Semester
Winter

Description
Harris Chapter 16: RELIGION Animism, is the belief that human share the world with a population of extraordinary, mostly invisible beings. Mana, is the possession of a concentrated animatistic force that gives certain objects, animals, and people extraordinary powers independent of the power derived from souls and gods. Animatism, is the belief in diffuse impersonal power that people can control under certain conditions. Religion, refers to beliefs and actions that are based on the assumption that the world is under the control of supernatural forces that human must please. Magic, refers to a practice to manipulate supernatural forces to achieve a specific result. Magic is less spiritual and less ethical than religion. Individualistic cults: all people are their own specialist. Shamans, are women and men who are socially recognized as having special abilities for entering in contact with spirit beings and for controlling supernatural forces. Communal cults, are rituals to strengthen the group continuity by communicating socially constructed meaning signifying the continuity of the group. Rituals, are formal, stylized, and repetitive acts that are performed in special, sacred places at set times. Totems, are objects, such as animals and plants, that serve as the emblems or symbols of a kinship group or a person. Rites of passage, are ceremonies that mark changes in a person's social position that are of general public concern. Liminal phase (= liminality in lecture), is a temporary ritual state, during which the individual is cut off from normal social contacts to demarcate a contrast from regular social life. Ecclesiastical cults, or groups have a professional clergy or priesthood organized in a bureaucracy. It is a highly centralized system. Revitalization movements, occurs during times of change, in which religious leaders emerge to bring forth positive change. Ghost dance: Native American believed, would place dancers in contact with the spirit world and hasten the time when people will be reunited with their dead ancestors. This meant that they would outnumber the Whites and hence be more powerful. Sacred and profane:  The sacred is the realm of human experience that evokes an attitude of awe and reverence.  The profane is the realm of the secular. It is the world of everyday domestic duties that are essentially utilitarian. The Sacred Cow, conforms to the general theory that the flesh of certain animals is made taboo when it becomes very expensive as a result of ecological changes. Harris Chapter 16 E.B. Tylor (1871) described religion as animism or the doctrine of the souls. According to Tylor, from the idea of the soul arose the idea of all godlike beings, and the idea of the soul itself arose as an attempt to explain phenomena such as trances, dreams, shadows, and reflections. Tylor's definition has been criticized for failing to consider the multifunctional nature of religion and for overlooking the reality of direct hallucinatory contact with extraordinary beings. each culture uses the basic concept of animism in its own distinctive fashion:  Ancient Egyptians had two souls and so do many Western Africa cultures: one from the mother's ancestors and one from the father's  The J'varo of Ecuador (Harner 1984) have tree souls:  The first soul - the mekas- give life to the body  The second soul - the arutan - had to be captures through a drug-induced visionary experience at a sacred waterfall. It confers bravery in battle to the possessor.  The third soul - the musiak - forms inside the head of a dying warrior and attempts to avenge his death. It is to gain control over the musiak that the J'varo cut off the fallen warrior's head and "shrink" it. A ritual is performed to trnsfer its powers to the captor.  The Dahomey say that women have three souls and men have four. Both sexes have:  Ancestor soul, it gives protection during life.  A personal soul, it is accountable for what people do with their life.  A mawn soul, it supplies divine guidance.  The men's fourth soul guides them to positions of leadership.  The Fang of Gabon have seven: a brain soul, a heart soul, a name soul, a life force soul, a body soul, a shadow soul, and a ghost soul (Riviere 1987) Robert Marett (1914) sought to supplement Tylor's definition of religion with the concepts of animatism and mana. Animatism is the belief in an impersonal life force in people, animals, and objects. The concentration of this force gives people, animals, and objects mana, or capacity to be extraordinary powerful and successful. The concept does not really separate mana from such forces as electricity or gravity. In Western cultures, the concepts of luck and charisma closely resemble the idea of mana, e.g. horseshoe brings good luck. The Western distinction between natural and supernatural is of limited utility for describing religion. As the case of the Gururumba indicates, in many cultures, there are no supernatural versus natural controls, only controls. Frazer tried to cope with the enormous variety of religious experience by separating religion from magic. Humility, supplication, and doubt characterized religion; routine cause and effect characterized magic. This distinction is difficult to maintain in view of the routine and coercive fashion in which animistic beings are often manipulated. The principal varieties of belief and ritual show broad correlations with levels of political economic organization. Four levels of religious organizations or cults can be distinguished: individualistic, shamanistic, communal, and ecclesiastical. PRINCIPAL TYPES OF CULTS Cult Type Role Specialization Political Complexity Examples Individualistic No role specialization Egalitarian band and Inuit hunters, Crow v
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