These various movements were supplemented by the growth of scientific historyarchaeology, anthropology, and other sciences. He stresses that the data of comparison must be empirical, gathered by experimentation. Furthermore, the advances in the knowledge of non-European, especially Indian, religion gave a wider perspective to discussions of the nature of religion, as was clear in the work of the German philosopher G.
His followers were in large measure the founders of modern scientific history. On the whole, in the ancient world and in the Middle Ages the various approaches to religion grew out of attempts either to criticize or to defend particular systems and to interpret religion in harmony with changes in knowledge.
His understanding of religion as a form of projection—an explanation that goes back to the ancient Greek thinker Xenophanes —was taken up in various ways by, among others, Marx, Freud, and Barth. The distinction, however, is not an absolute one, for, as has been noted, descriptions of religion may sometimes incorporate theories about religion that imply something about the truth or other normative aspects of some or all religions.
This theme of criticism of the myths was taken over and elaborated in the 4th century bce by Plato. This is an extremely thought provoking essay, and it gives one a good idea of why Geertz has such stature among anthropologists.
It is suggested the oppositions considered in the essay are just part of a more abstract order which can be used to classify a much wider range of human experience. The process of participant-observation can be especially helpful to understanding a culture from an emic conceptual, vs.
The dominant sense in which the contemporary study of religion is understood is the descriptive sense.
In terms of representation, an anthropologist has greater power than his or her subjects of study, and this has drawn criticism of participant observation in general. Thus, some political ideologiessuch as communism and fascismhave been regarded as analogous to religion.
This can take the form of casual, friendly dialogue, or can also be a series of more structured interviews. The second database, eHRAF Archaeology, covers major archaeological traditions and many more sub-traditions and sites around the world.
Also emerging in multi-sited ethnography are greater interdisciplinary approaches to fieldwork, bringing in methods from cultural studies, media studies, science and technology studies, and others. Ethnography In the 20th century, most cultural and social anthropologists turned to the crafting of ethnographies.
As a methodology, ethnography is based upon long-term fieldwork within a community or other research site. It contains five essays, of which two are very broad in scope basically attempts at a definition of religion and consequent methodological suggestions for anthropologistswhile the others consider more specific aspects of particular religious systems and attempt to draw theoretical conclusions from them.
Frazer in England worked mostly with materials collected by others — usually missionaries, traders, explorers, or colonial officials — earning them the moniker of "arm-chair anthropologists".
The other sense of the subjectivity of religion is properly a matter for theology and the philosophy of religion. Theorists in such diverse fields as anatomylinguisticsand Ethnologymaking feature-by-feature comparisons of their subject matters, were beginning to suspect that similarities between animals, languages, and folkways were the result of processes or laws unknown to them then.
The sequence of decisions may extend over a lifetime, but several crucial choice-points tend to occur at predictable stages in a career. Simply by being present, a researcher causes changes in a culture, and anthropologists continue to question whether or not it is appropriate to influence the cultures they study, or possible to avoid having influence.
According to Clifford Geertz"anthropology is perhaps the last of the great nineteenth-century conglomerate disciplines still for the most part organizationally intact.
The ensuing account here of the history of the subject takes it up to the modern period and then considers the various disciplines connected with religion in detail since the 19th century.
This knowledge opened the way toward a more factual, less speculative treatment of the phenomena of other religions. Thus, the preliminary task of the student of religion must be to amass an inventory of kinds of religious phenomena.
Long after natural history, moral philosophy, philology, and political economy have dissolved into their specialized successors, it has remained a diffuse assemblage of ethnology, human biology, comparative linguistics, and prehistory, held together mainly by the vested interests, sunk costs, and administrative habits of academia, and by a romantic image of comprehensive scholarship.
Waitz defined anthropology as "the science of the nature of man".
Even if an inventory of kinds of belief and practice could be gathered so as to provide a typical profile of what counts as religion, some scholars would maintain that the differences between religions are more significant than their similarities.
Cross-cultural comparison[ edit ] One means by which anthropologists combat ethnocentrism is to engage in the process of cross-cultural comparison. The most basic of these groups is the family; in this, the definition of relationship is concrete, that is, there is a father, a mother and children.
In the explorer Richard Francis Burton and the speech therapist James Hunt broke away from the Ethnological Society of London to form the Anthropological Society of Londonwhich henceforward would follow the path of the new anthropology rather than just ethnology.
Admittedly his theory of the historical dialectic—in which one movement the thesis is countered by another the antithesisthe interplay giving rise to a third the synthesiswhich now becomes the thesis of a new dialectical interplay, and so on—has been viewed as too artificial.
Similar solutions were offered—for example, the identification of northern and Roman and Greek gods, sometimes using etymologies that owed much to superficial resemblances of names. The adherent of a faith is no doubt authoritative as to his own experience, but what of the communal significance of the rites and institutions in which the adherent participates?
American anthropology Anthropology is a global discipline involving humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.Cultural anthropology is a branch of anthropology focused on the study of cultural variation among humans. It is in contrast to social anthropology, which perceives cultural variation as a subset of the anthropological constant.
Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Ethnomedicine. He has won several awards in the field, including the Margaret Mead Award of the American Anthropological Association, and from to he served as president of the Society for Medical Anthropology.
Bibliographic information. 5 CHAPTER OUTLINE Introduction: The Anthropological Study of Religion Western Perspectives on Religion The Development of Anthropological Approaches to Religion.
Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion: Anthropological. Bell’s work is one of the most significant attempts to bridge the gap between “reductive” social and anthropological approaches, and approaches that attempt to take “religious” or “supernatural” phenomena on their own terms.
Learn more about anthropological approaches or supplement your class learning with our informative chapter. These short video and text lessons work as a comprehensive, mobile-friendly study guide.
Anthropology of religion is the study of religion in relation to other social institutions, and the comparison of religious beliefs and practices across cultures.  Contents.Download