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The Anthropology of Religion: An Introduction Paperback – 13 Dec 1999

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Product details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (13 Dec. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631208488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631208488
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.3 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 505,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Fiona Bowie has been writing professionally since 1989, when she published her first book on Beguine Spirituality (translations by Oliver Davies) with SPCK/Crossroad. This was followed by studies on Hildegard of Bingen and Celtic Christian Spirituality in the same series. A move to the Welsh-speaking town of Bethesda in North Wales resulted in an edited collection of essays on 'Discovering Welshness' (Gwasg Gomer, also with Oliver Davies). After studying anthropology at Durham and Oxford universities, which included a period of fieldwork in Cameroon, Fiona Bowie taught at the Universities of Wales, Bristol, and King's College London (UK), Linkoping (Sweden) and Virginia (USA). She has written a best-selling textbook on the Anthropology of Religion (Blackwell), and edited volumes on The Coming Deliverer (University of Wales Press) and Cross-Cultural Approaches to Adoption (Berghahn). In 2010 she launched the Afterlife Research Centre,, for the ethnographic study of the afterlife. Her most recent publication, Tales from the Afterlife (O Books), combines scholarship and imagination in presenting possible scenarios of our immediate post-mortem existence.

Product Description


"There is no book like this. Bowie has done an excellent piece of work which should become the quintessential text for introducing all interested readers to the anthropology of religion. It was a joy to read." Beebe Behrami, University of Notre Dame

"The material is up to date, the style is clear, straightforward and accessible, and the book has a comprehensive coverage of topics that might be expected in a course on the anthropology of religion." Geoffrey Samuel, University of Newcastle, Australia

From the Back Cover

This introductory text combines discussion of the origin and development of ideas and debates within the anthropology of religion with a look at where the subject is going today. It will inspire students to explore the field further and encourage them to see that anthropology is not just about reading or doing fieldwork, but offers an enriching way of looking at the world. There is a development of ideas throughout the book, but each of the eight chapters is also self–contained, with its own extensive bibliography, so that they can be approached in any order. Each chapter introduces the central theoretical ideas in the anthropology of religion and illustrates them with specific case studies. For example: witchcraft in America is illustrated with Evans–Pritchard s famous study of the Azande and witchcraft in Cameroon; shamanism is discussed with reference to classical shamanism in the Arctic, and to contemporary neo–shamanism ; the ways in which anthropologists approach ritual are examined, particularly in relation to women s initiation ceremonies. Throughout, links are made between the work of nineteenth– and early twentieth–century scholars, and contemporary ideas and practices. The appendix comprises a list of ethnographic films and videos that can also be used to illustrate and extend the issues raised in the various chapters.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
The unfortunate fact is that man has been created with a body and a soul as well, and this original sin, after having incessantly haunted the reflective mind through myth, religion, theology, and metaphysics, comes now to lay its curse on anthropology. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Sept. 2000
Format: Paperback
as i am studying a degree in anthropology i picked religion as one of my topics and this book was able to give me an indepth view of many aspects of religions in different settings. it helped to give me a broader outlook at the whole topic
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By Sarah on 2 Mar. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book, good conditions, worth it, great delivery.very pleased.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
An essential Introductory text 18 Mar. 2005
By Ms. E. Forde - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Anthropology of Religion is an invaluable source for students which provides detailed information on the development of Anthropological thought and the key debates and theories on religion. As may be expected from a synopsis, Bowie's views are not readily expressed which is evident by the way she presents the views of other anthropologists, preferring to directly quote rather than paraphrase. Bowie's preface outlines her intention that the chapters of the book can be read individually or interchangeably. As such, the result is a collection of individual but linked essays on the diverse aspects of an anthropological approach to religion illustrated with a range of ethnographic examples both classic and modern. The chapters, of a uniform length and depth of analysis, deal with eight main topics: Theories; Symbolism; boundaries; gender; environment; ritual; shamanism, and witchcraft. Each chapter is structured into several sections, including an introduction and conclusion, with notes, references and suggestions for further reading following. Key terms are explained and contextualized in separate boxes throughout the text, indicative of an introductory textbook, (for example Eriksson: 2001), which makes for better, more fluent reading. The book includes an extensive appendix of film and video resources.

Morris' 1987, Anthropological Studies of Religion, which must have been the key introductory textbook on religion for students of Anthropology before Bowie's book, approaches religion from an historical perspective. Each chapter is based on a different school of thought, centering on the key theorists. While Morris' traces, in detail, the development of theories on religion, anthropology and methodology, Bowie's book surpasses this structure and focuses on the different theoretical ideas and offers ethnographic examples in each chapter, incorporating discussions of theory and theorists when appropriate.

The Anthropology of Religion takes an holistic approach to the study of Religion, as may be expected from a modern textbook. Bowie's feelings on the importance of reflexivity when conducting fieldwork are an implicit undercurrent throughout the text, she qualifies her research and selection of material for the book reflexively, citing her Christian background, anthropological education and fieldwork experiences as influences on the tenor of the book (29). There are comprehensive ethnographic examples to support the text, and without offering her own definition of religion, it is clear that Bowie has intended to cover a range of topics as to define religion in the broadest sense. The result is an accessible collection of readings on the key topics in the Anthropology of religion. Clearly and logically presented with extensive notes and suggestions for further reading, The Anthropology of Religion is a suitable, if not essential, introductory text at undergraduate level.
Anthropology of Religion 5 May 2013
By Priscilla A Phifer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was purchased for class reading. While I initially dreaded reading scholarly religious books, I came to appreciate the book and started reading other books on various religious-themed books in a more critical-thinking way. I would recommend this book to theists, atheists, and agnostics.
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