ANT100Y1 Chapter Notes -Liminality, Cultural Universal, Edward Burnett Tylor

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19 Apr 2012

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Chapter 10: Religion
Religion belief and ritual concerned with supernatural being, powers, and forces (Anthony FC
Religion assoc. with divisions within and between societies and nations
Can unite and divide
Religion exists in all human societies
Cultural universal
o Concerned w/ supernatural
o Serves emotional needed
o Collective system of meaning
o Explains the unexplainable
o Social in nature, based on religious roles
Animism: belief in soles or doubles
Mana sacred impersonal force in Melanesian and Polynesian religions
mono-theism: belief n a single all powerful deity
found of anthro of religion: Sir Edward Burnett Tylor
Magic supernatural techniques intended to accomplish specific aims… techniques = spells, formulas,
incantations used w/ deities or impersonal forces
o Formal, stylized, repetitive, stereotypes
o Performed @ special times/places
o Liturgical orders sequences of words/actions
o They convey messages, values, and sentiments
o They encourage a common social order
Magic/religion can reduce anxiety/allay fears(Malinowski)
Beliefs/rituals can create anxiety/sense of insecurity
Rites of passage: culturally defined activities assoc. with the transition from one place or stage of life
to another
o Boyhood manhood
o 3 phases:
separation - withdraw from group, begin moving from 1 phase to another
liminality occupy ambiguous social positions, cut off form normal social contracts
incorporation re-enter society b/c they completed the rite
o passage rites often are collective, many individuals doing it at once, together
o communitas: collective liminality an intense community spirit, social solidarity, equality,
o liminality marked by reversals of ordinary behaviour
o Religions of Native Australians
o Totems animals plants geographical features
o Members of each totem believe they are descendants of that totem
o annual rites
o uses nature as model for society
o totems symbolize common identity
o for Native Americans too
religion coping, control, healing
1996 Taliban movement, religious repression in Afghanistan
leveling mechanism: customs and social actions that operate to reduce differences in wealth and thus
to bring standouts in line with community norms
o ex. Witchcraft hunts/accusations
Wallace identities 4 types of religion
o Shamanic religion part time religious figures mediating between people and supernatural
o Shaman = mediator, curses, mediums, spiritualists, astrologers, palm readers etc.
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