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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Ritual and Religion (PGSP11191)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
Summarywill look at anthropological contributions to the understanding of ritual and religion, starting and ending with moments of especially acute reflection on the place of religion in the contemporary world. Our starting point will be that moment in the late 19th and early 20th century when classic theorists (especially Weber and Durkheim) pondered the place of religion in an age of scientific challenge, and we shall end with contemporary arguments about the boundaries between religion and politics. In between we will investigate the intersection of religion and ritual with a range of topics (economics, gender, sexuality ┐ among others).
Course description Week 1: Major theories in the anthropology of religion
Week 2: Ritual as a form of 'problem airing'
Week 3: Ritual as Oppression
Week 4: Sacrifice in theory
Week 5: Sacrifice in Practice
Week 6: A debate about a definition
Week 7: Islam, Reform, Ethics
Week 8: Religion and Economy
Week 9: The cognitive science of religion
Week 10: Film Screening and Debate
Week 11: Reviewing the Links
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  20
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One 4000 word essay (90%)
Tutorial Participation (10%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the study of religion and ritual from an anthropological perspective. This course explores fundamental questions related to the definition and study of religious systems and ritual practices and challenges us to reconsider the general categories and classifications used in anthropology, particularly in relation to the concepts of "religion" and "ritual" themselves and related disciplinary distinctions between notions of "science," "magic," and "myth." The general aim is to provide a critical reappraisal of how the notions of ritual and religion have been constructed and used in the comparative study of society and culture. Concentrating on the most influential theories of ritual action and religious commitment, the course addresses the role these constructions have played in organizing a broad discourse on human diversity and the varied nature of human life and experience. Tracing the fluctuating presence of common themes, each session will provide an analysis of more general theoretical paradigms rather than single theorists or individual ethnographies.
  2. By the end of the course, through class assignments and tutorial projects that foster a critical appreciation of 'the anthropology of religion and ritual', students should have a clear overview of the main theories of ritual action and religious commitment. In addition, having explored a variety of ethnographies, they should be able to reflect on the possible application of these theories to different ethnographic problems.
Reading List
Ammerman, N.T. (1987) Bible Believers: fundamentalists in the modern world. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
Christian, W. 1972/1989. Person and God in a Spanish Valley. Princeton: UP.
Ewing, K. 1997. Arguing sainthood: modernity, psychoanalysis, and Islam. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Fader, A. (2009) Mitzvah girls: bringing up the next generation of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn. Princeton, Princeton University Press.
Favret-Saada, J. 1980 Deadly words: witchcraft in the Bocage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Festinger, L., Riecken, H. and Shachter, S. 1956. When prophecy fails. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Keller, E. 2005. Road to clarity: Seventh-Day Adventism in Madagascar. Palgrave Macmillan.
Kwon, H. 2008. Ghosts of War in Vietnam. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kugelmass, J. 1996 The Miracle of Intervale Avenue: The Story of a Jewish Congregation in the South Bronx. Columbia University Press.
Lienhardt, G. (1961) Divinity and Experience: The Religion of the Dinka. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Luehrmann, S. 2011. Secularism Soviet Style. Teaching Atheism and Religion in a Volga Republic. Indiana University Press.
Mahmood, S. 2005. The Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton: UP.
Marsden, M. 2005. Living Islam: Muslim Religious Experience in Pakistan┐s North-West Frontier. Cambridge: UP.
Mayblin, M. 2010. Gender, Catholicism and Morality in Brazil. Palgrave Macmillan.
McIntosh, J. 2009. The edge of Islam. Power, personhood, and ethnoreligious boundaries on the Kenya coast. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Mittermaier, A. 2011 Dreams that Matter. Egyptian Landscapes of the Imagination. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Obeyesekere, G. 1981. Medusa's Hair: An Essay on Personal Symbols and Religious Experience. Chicago: UP.
Orsi, R. 2005. Between heaven and earth. The religious worlds people make and the scholars who study them. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Ortner, S. 1978. Sherpas Through their Rituals. Cambridge University Press.
Pedersen, M. 2011. Not Quite Shamans. Spirit Worlds and Political Lives in Northern Mongolia. Ithaca and London: Cornell University.
Robbins, J. 2004. Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Tuzin, D. 1997 The Cassowary┐s Revenge. The Life and Death of Masculinity in New Guinea Society. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Maya Mayblin
Course secretaryMs Jessica Barton
Tel: (0131 6)51 5066
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