Product Cover Image

Religions in Practice: An Approach to the Anthropology of Religion, CourseSmart eTextbook, 5th Edition

By John R. Bowen

Published by Pearson

Published Date: May 18, 2010

More Product Info


This widely used textbook offers a unique perspective on how people engage in everyday religious practices--such as prayer, sacrifice, initiation, and healing--by investigating broad-scale issues, such as transnationalism, gender, and religious laws.


No other text examines the full spectrum of religions, from small-scale societies to full-blown “world religious movements.” The in-depth treatment of Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity is of particular interest to students, and is easily expanded to include field projects directly related to material covered in the text. As one reviewer writes, “In our post 9/11 era, it is great to have a book whose author has done fieldwork in Indonesia and is so knowledgeable about Islam.”

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Chapter 1 Studying Religion through Practice 1

    What Is “Religion”? 2

    An Anthropological Approach to Religion 4

    How is Anthropology Distinctive? 6

    Practices, Contexts, and Diversity 7


Chapter 2 The Twin Transformations of “Religion” 9

    Axial Age Transformations 9

    Enlightenment Transformations 12

    Social Theory and the Anthropology of Religion 15

    Religion as Intellectual Activity 16

    Religions in Social Life 19

    The Psychology of Religion 25

    Symbols between Society and the Individual 28

    Conclusions 29

     For Debate 29


Chapter 3 Domains and Boundaries of “Religion” 30

    Combining Religious Practices in Japan 30

    Practice and Belief 31

    Shinto and Spirits 32

    Spirits and Social Change 33

    Buddhism and Souls 35

    The State and Religion 37

    Imposed Definitions of Religion 40

    Wana Practices and Indonesian Definitions 42

    The Case of Islam 43

    Conclusions 45

    For Debate 46

    Films to See 46


Chapter 4 Rituals of Transition 47

    Rites of Passage 48

    The Pilgrimage to Mecca 49

    Death Ritual and the Social Order 56

    From Spirit to Household God in Japan 56

    Regenerating Life from Death 58

    Asmat Headhunting and Birth through Death 58

    Secondary Burial 61

    Grief and Ritual Form 63

    Conclusions 66

    Films to See 66


Chapter 5 Healing through Religion 67

    Christian Science 67

    Narratives and Pain Relief 68

    Modern Magic in Japanese New Religions 70

    Magic and Religion 75

    Healing Muslims–and Hindus? 76

    What Does Science Have to Say? 79

    Conclusions 82

    For Debate 82

    Films to See 82


Chapter 6 Sorcery, Witchcraft, and Modernity 83

    La Sorcellerie in Cameroon 84

    Azande Oracles 86

    Sorcery and Modernity 88

    Witchcraft as Satan versus God 92

    Conclusions 100

    For Debate 100

    Films to See 100


Chapter 7 Worship, Hierarchy, Conflict: Focus on Hinduism 101

    Sacrifice, Offerings, and Deities 101

    Bathing at Benares 110

    Muslim—Hindu Violence 112

    Explaining Where Violence Occurred 114

    Conclusions 116

    Films to See 116


Chapter 8 Imagery and Faith: Focus on Worldwide Catholicism 117

    Relics and Images in Catholicism 117

    Mary and Marys in European Societies 123

    Conclusions 131

    For Debate 131

    Films to See 131


Chapter 9 Transatlantic Religion 132

    Mary in Mesoamerica 132

    Transnational Religion: Africa and Brazil across the Atlantic 135

    The Black Atlantic 139

    Black Carib Religion in Africa, Honduras, and New York City 140

    Conclusions 142

    Films to See 142


Chapter 10 Speech and Power 143

    Quality and Memory 144

    The Qur’ân as Recitation of God’s Speech 146

    The Creative Power of Navajo Speech and Song 152

    Speech and Grace in Protestant Churches 154

    The Letter and the Spirit of Scripture 155

    Election and Signs 156

    Singing and Certainty among U.S. Primitive Baptists 159

    Charismatic and Pentecostal Churches 162

    Conclusions 164

    Films to See 165


Chapter 11 Authority and Leaders 166

    Authority Figures 166

    Saints 167

    Prophets 172

    Mormons 175

    Muslims 180

    Muhammad as Messenger and Prophet 180

    The Development of the Shi’i 181

    Masters and Disciples in Sufi Orders 182

    Conclusions 183


Chapter 12 New Religious Movements 184

    Revivalist Movements 184

    Land, Wealth, and Religious Visions 185

    Cults, Recruitment, and Violence 187

    Aum Shinrikyo 187

    Order of the Solar Temple 188

    Why Do People Join Violent Movements? 192

    Conclusions 195

    For Debate 195

    Films to See 195


Chapter 13 Migration and Adaptation: Focus on Muslims in Europe 196

    Migration and Transnational Ties 197

    Transnational Islam in Three Senses 202

    Can European Societies Be Muslim? 205

    Conclusions 209

    For Debate 209

    Films to See 209


Chapter 14 Virtual Religion 210

    What Can You Do Online? 210

    Creole Spaces 212

    Information, Communication, and Performance 214

    Experience and Community 219

    Comparative Communities 223

    Conclusions 225

    For Debate 1 225

    For Debate 2 226

    Films to See 226


Chapter 15 Secularisms and Religions in Modern States 227

    How to Think About “Secular States” 227

    Secularism and Pluralism in the United States 229

    Secularism and Public Religion: Three European Variants 233

    When Religion Underlies Law 237

    Conclusions 243

    For Debate 243

    Films to See 244


References 245


Index 254