Pre-requisites for BA Social Anthropology: SE301 Introduction to Social Anthropology; SE588 Advanced Anthropology I: Power and Economy and SE586 Ethnographies 1 (both Autumn term)
Co-requisites for BA Social Anthropology programmes: SE587 Ethnographies 2 (Spring term).
Pre-requisites for BSc Anthropology programme: SE301 Introduction to Social Anthropology; SE 588 Advanced Social Anthropology 1 (Autumn term)
OverviewThis module is focused on a diverse range of approaches deployed by anthropologists to the study of religion, and belief and symbolic systems. It introduces a range of anthropological insights to the ongoing transformations of religious traditions and belief systems vis-à-vis colonial encounters, post-colonial settings, as well as globalisation. The aim of the module is to familiarize students with the complex interactions between lived religious practice, religious traditions, and the ways in which these are intertwined with other domains of social life, politics, economics and ideology. The key topics covered in this module focus on ritual and sacrifice; witchcraft and sorcery; secularisation and fundamentalism; millennialism and conversion; cosmology and ideology; human and non-human relationships; modes of religiosity, rationality and belief; mediation and ethics. This module will develop students' awareness of the strengths and limitations of anthropological insights compared to other disciplinary perspectives on religion such as theology, cognitive science or sociology.
This module appears in:
The teaching structure of the module is 12 x 1-hour lectures + 12 x 1-hour seminars = 24 contact hours per student, excluding meetings initiated by individual students.
For each seminar, students will be expected to devote 8 hours of independent study or use of online module resources (96 hours); 12 hours for the assessed essay; and 18 hours for the final exam; totaling 150 hours of study and writing devoted to the module.
Contact-based learning will be supplemented by resources collected on a Moodle site for the module, and the screening of excerpts from ethnographic films.
The module thus combines structured lecture periods, semi-structured seminars, and ample scope for individual exploration of the module's subject matter, ensuring that achievement of the learning outcomes is a collaborative product of the content and facilitation supplied by the lecturer and the initiative of individual students.
BSc: Anthropology; BA: Social Anthropology; Joint Honours; with a Language; with a Year Abroad
Method of assessment
This module will be assessed by 50% coursework and 50% exam (a 2 hour unseen examination, answering 2 from a total of 8 essay question).
The coursework comprises:
- seminar participation score reflecting attendance and contribution to discussion (10%);
- an individual seminar presentation (10%), in which students will be asked to give a critical summary of the weekly reading for the seminars, marked against a standard scheme that will be included in the course outline.
- one assessed essay of 1,500 words (30%).
The subject matter of this module is based on exploration, analysis and synthesis of a range of appropriate sources on the anthropology of religion, and is therefore best suited to assessment methods that evaluate and reward individual research.
Abramson, A. and M. Holbraad eds. (2014) Framing Cosmologies: The Anthropology of Worlds. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Bloch, M. (1992) Prey Into Hunter: The Politics of Religious Experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bloch, M. (2012) Anthropology and the Cognitive Challenge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bowie, F. (2006) The Anthropology of Religion: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell
Lambek, M. (ed.) 2001. A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion. Oxford: Blackwell.
Lambek, M. ed. (2013) A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion. Oxford: Blackwell.
Whitehouse, H. and J. Laidlaw eds. (2007) Religion, Anthropology, and Cognitive Science. Durham: Carolina Academic Press.
8.1 Be conversant with the main themes and trends of the anthropology of religion
8.2 Have cultivated an in-depth critical understanding of the historical depth and cultural diversity of a number of religious traditions, symbolic systems, rituals and practices both inside and outside 'Western' and modern contexts, and at regional, national and global levels
8.3 Have acquired a critical understanding of the historical development of those anthropological debates and theories
8.4 Be able to apply anthropological insights to the ongoing transformations of these traditions vis-à-vis colonial encounters, post-colonial settings, as well as globalisation e.g. ritual and sacrifice; witchcraft and sorcery; secularisation and fundamentalism; millennialism and conversion; and to develop awareness of the strengths and limitations of these insights compared to other disciplinary perspectives on social life, politics, economics and ideology
8.5 Be knowledgeable about key theoretical contributions of the anthropology of religion to the wider discipline and their leading role in shaping wider anthropological debates and disciplinary reflexivity
8.6 Be able to analyse and communicate their understanding of anthropological texts in both written and spoken form