AN221 Half Unit Not available in 2012/13
The Anthropology of Christianity
This information is for the 2012/13 session.
Optional for BA Anthropology and Law and BA/BSc Social Anthropology. Also available to General Course students and as an outside option.
Undergraduates taking this course should have completed an introductory course in anthropology unless granted exemption by the course teacher.
The ethnography of local Christianities in the light of differing cultural and social situations including colonial conditions. The relationship between Christianity and the discipline of anthropology.
The course will examine a number of anthropological and historical studies of local forms of Christianity, including local forms of Catholicism, contemporary and historical Protestantisms including American Fundamentalist Protestantism and 'heretical' and other unorthodox Christianities. The course asks why anthropologists have shied away from analysing Christianity long after studies of other world religions, such as Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, have become widely established. It looks at the relationship between Christianity and the history of anthropological thought, and locates the place of Christianity in the writings of Mauss, Durkheim, Foucault and others, in order to defamiliarise the religion which Europeans and Americans especially often take for granted. Issues examined may include the nature and experience of belief, the problems of writing about religion, Christianity and the state, the nature of religious confession, Christianity and women's religious and social experience (from Medieval women mystics to women priests), inquisitions and heretical beliefs, priests and alternative forms of mediation with divine power, miraculous saints, incorrupt bodies and 'non-eaters' and changing ideas about death, Heaven and Hell. Particular attention is paid to the nature of conversion, the history of missionaries and to Christianity in colonial and post-colonial situations in a variety of contexts such as Madagascar, South America, South East Asia and South Africa, and to issues of resistance and the re-appropriation of Christian doctrines by local populations.
Lectures AN221 weekly, Classes AN221.A weekly in the LT.
Students are expected to prepare discussion material for presentation in the classes and are required to write assessment essays.
Anthropology students taking this course will have an opportunity to submit a tutorial essay for this course to their personal tutors. For non-Anthropology students taking this course, a formative essay may be submitted to the course teacher.
M Bloch, From Blessing to Violence: History and Ideology in the Circumcision Ritual of the Merina of Madagascar; F Cannell, Catholicism, Spirit Mediums and the Ideal of Beauty in a Bicolano Community, Philippines (PhD thesis, University of London); W Christian, Person and God in a Spanish Valley (reprint 1988); J Comaroff, Body of Power, Spirit of Resistance; J de Pina Cabral, Sons of Adam, Daughters of Eve: the Peasant World View in the Alto Minho; R Ileto, Pasyon and Revolution: Popular Movements in the Phillippines, 1840-1910; J Nash, We Eat the Mines and the Mines Eat us: Dependency and Exploitation in Bolivian Tin Mines; M Taussig, The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America. Detailed reading lists are provided at the beginning of the course.
A two-hour examination in the ST worth 70%. One assessed essay of 2,000-2,500 words (30%).