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SOAN101 F14 Religion

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Julie Jenkins

on 2 December 2014

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Transcript of SOAN101 F14 Religion

Religion & Social Change
--responds to economic and social inequalities
Is religion unchanging?
-organized system of beliefs?
E.B. Tylor's definition:
--Belief in Supernatural Beings
Robert Marrett
--Mana: impersonal force or power (Melanesia/Polynesia)
Religion is:
--set of practices, norms, values, etc
How do anthropologists make sense of religion?
Religion as an intellectual activity:

--helps to understand and explain the world around us and the events that happen to us
Geertz - Reassures us that the world is orderly & meaningful
(not chaotic)
--model of & model for reality
Religion provides for Psychological Needs
--Malinowski-- Religion helps us cope with times of trouble
--gives people confidence in circumstances they can't control
Use rituals to ‘control’ the uncontrollable
--Doing so, removes anxiety and fear
Religion has social functions (Durkheim)
--instills and maintains values
--enforces social order
--promotes social cohesion
How can we understand the conversion of the Gebusi to forms of religion that emphasize Judgement Day and delays to rewards?
"cargo in heaven"
Cargo 'cults' of Melanesia (Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, PNG, and Fiji)
--cargo-- contents of ship/plane..but also refers to all material objects of missionaries/colonial officials
--goal is the acquisition of cargo possessed by colonial officials/missionaries
--varies between places
First Wave: late 19thC- WWII
---experienced colonialism, resource expeditions and missionaries
----believed Whites had ritual secrets that controlled the cargo-
prophets started to theorize about the origin and control of the cargo:
--- Whites at first associated with 'sky people'
Sky ppl-- original men & women (the ancestors)
--associated with fertility/sun
--skins understood to be light
--controlled wealth
--controlled weather & other events
--Idea that Whites had ritually intercepted the cargo
---PNGs need to discover the ritual secrets to ensure the cargo made its way to them
OR-- that ritually preparations needed to be made for ascent into the sky
"A world religion, at the ground level, is a congeries of local varients, of which none can be said sensibly to the "correct" or "real" one".
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