Anthropology of Religion

in Vocabulary for the Study of Religion Online
Robert Winzeler
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Most of the terms used by anthropologists to identify, describe, analyze, and explain religion are Western in origin. Some have differing scholarly and popular uses, and some still-popular terms have become largely unacceptable among scholars. The anthropological vocabulary of religion needs to be understood in relation to the history of anthropological studies of religion. There have been four phases: 1) late nineteenth-century “armchair,” comparative, intellectualist studies, followed by 2) realistic, fieldwork-based accounts, then 3) efforts to deal with the complexities of the world religions, and most recently 4) the consideration of several religious dimensions of globalization (including religious conversion, the rise and decline of revolutionary socialism, and the effects of modern capitalism). This account draws heavily on my recent book Anthropology and Religion: What We Know, Think and Question (Winzeler 2012), where much fuller consideration of the matters discussed below may be found. ⸙

Vocabulary for the Study of Religion Online

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