Anthropology

Religion and Ritual

Module code: L6072
Level 5
15 credits in autumn teaching
Teaching method: Lecture, Seminar
Assessment modes: Essay

This module is concerned with the explanation of religious and ritual phenomena.

It explores the key theoretical issues by examining ethnographic material that deals with - among other things - initiation, myth, witchcraft, symbolism and religious experience.

There is also some treatment of more 'secular' rituals such as carnival and Christmas.

The focus is as much on how people believe as on what they believe; on why they perform rituals as much as what these rituals look like.

It explores both classic texts and more recent accounts, to give students a sense of where particular arguments have come from and where they are going.

Module learning outcomes

  • To demonstrate knowledge/understanding of anthropological approaches to understanding religion and ritual.
  • To analyse/evaluate/assess main theoretical debates in the field of anthropology of religion and ritual, and an awareness of the history of these debates and how specific theoretical trends have developed over time.
  • To relate theory to specific ethnographic contexts of religious and ritual practice.
  • To evaluate/compare strengths and weaknesses of anthropological theory that has been developed and deployed to understand actual practices.