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

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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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: 805,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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.

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Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book, good conditions, worth it, great delivery.very pleased.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars 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.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An essential Introductory text 18 Mar. 2005
By FordEE - 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.
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