Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Author-Date Chicago Manual of Style Prompt asks that you engage in a reflection about the course’s contents (no library resea - School Writers

Author-Date Chicago Manual of Style Prompt asks that you engage in a reflection about the course’s contents (no library resea

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Author-Date Chicago Manual of Style

Prompt asks that you engage in a reflection about the course's contents (no library research is needed; engaging only with the textbook's contents and other course materials is required).  You must:

a] Read the New York Times article, “In Narrow Decision, Supreme Court Sides With Baker Who Turned Away Gay Couple” (see the folder Recent Press Articles of Interest at the Student Resources link). Briefly summarize the case.

b] Read the New York Times article, “British Jury Delivers First Conviction for Female Genital Cutting” (see the folder Recent Press Articles of Interest at the Student Resources link). Briefly summarize the case.

 Use as many specific concepts and contents (no vague reference accepted) from this course to develop a sophisticated discussion of the significance of these two cases when considered together. 

The Anthropology of Religion, Magic, and Witchcraft

This concise and accessible textbook introduces students to the anthropological study of religion. Stein and Stein examine religious expression from a cross-cultural perspective and expose students to the varying complexity of world religions. The chapters incorporate key theoretical concepts and a rich range of ethnographic material.

The fourth edition of The Anthropology of Religion, Magic, and Witchcraft offers:

increased coverage of new religious movements, fundamentalism, and religion and conflict/violence; fresh case study material with examples drawn from around the globe; further resources via a comprehensive companion website.

This is an essential guide for students encountering anthropology of religion for the first time.

Rebecca L. Stein is Professor of Anthropology and Department Chair at Los Angeles Valley College, USA.

Philip L. Stein is Professor of Anthropology (Emeritus) at Los Angeles Pierce College, USA. He is a fellow of the American Anthropological Association and a past president of the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges.

The Anthropology of Religion, Magic, and Witchcraft

Fourth Edition

Rebecca L. Stein and Philip L. Stein

Fourth edition published 2017 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN

and by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017

Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business

© 2017 Rebecca L. Stein and Philip L. Stein

The right of Rebecca L. Stein and Philip L. Stein to be identified as authors of this work has been asserted by them in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.

Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe.

First published 2005 by Prentice Hall Third edition published 2011 by Prentice Hall

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Names: Stein, Rebecca L., 1970- author. | Stein, Philip L., author. Title: The anthropology of religion, magic, and witchcraft / Rebecca L. Stein, Philip L. Stein. Description: Fourth edition. | Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY : Routledge, 2017. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2016050966 (print) | LCCN 2017007888 (ebook) | ISBN 9781138719972 (hardback : alk. paper) | ISBN 9781138692527 (pbk. : alk. paper) | ISBN 9781315532172 (e-book) Subjects: LCSH: Religion. | Anthropology of religion. | Religion and culture. Classification: LCC GN470. S73 2017 (print) | LCC GN470 (ebook) | DDC 306.6—dc23

LC record available at

ISBN: 978-1-138-71997-2 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-138-69252-7 (pbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-53217-2 (ebk)

Typeset in Sabon by Keystroke, Neville Lodge, Tettenhall, Wolverhampton

Visit the companion website:

For Elijah





1 The anthropological study of religion

The anthropological perspective

The holistic approach

The study of human societies

The Fore of New Guinea: an ethnographic example

Two ways of viewing culture

Cultural relativism

Box 1.1 Karen McCarthy Brown and Vodou

The concept of culture

The study of religion

Attempts at defining religion

The domain of religion

Theoretical approaches to the study of religion

Box 1.2 Malinowski and the Trobriand Islands

Box 1.3 Evans-Pritchard and the Azande

The biological basis of religious behavior



Study questions

Suggested readings

Suggested websites


2 Mythology

The nature of myths


Stories of the supernatural

The nature of oral texts

Box 2.1 Genesis

Box 2.2 The gender-neutral Christian Bible

Understanding myths

Approaches to the analysis of myths

Box 2.3 The Gururumba creation story

Common themes in myths

Box 2.4 The power of storytelling

Box 2.5 The Navaho creation story: Diné Bahane’



Study questions

Suggested readings

Suggested websites


3 Religious symbols

What is a symbol?

Religious symbols

Box 3.1 Religious toys and games

Sacred art

The sarcophagus of Lord Pakal

The meaning of color

Sacred time and sacred space

The meaning of time

Box 3.2 The end of time

Sacred time and space in Australia

The symbolism of music and dance

The symbolism of music

The symbolism of dance



Study questions

Suggested readings

Suggested websites


4 Ritual

The basics of ritual performance

Prescriptive and situational rituals

Periodic and occasional rituals

A classification of rituals

A survey of rituals

Technological rituals

Social rites of intensification

Therapy rituals and healing

Revitalization rituals

Rites of passage

Alterations of the human body


Box 4.1 The Hajj

The Huichol pilgrimage

Religious obligations


Jewish food laws

Box 4.2 Menstrual tabus



Study questions

Suggested readings

Suggested websites


5 Altered states of consciousness

The nature of altered states of consciousness

Entering an altered state of consciousness

The biological basis of altered states of consciousness

Box 5.1 Altered states in Upper Paleolithic art

Ethnographic examples of altered states of consciousness

San healing rituals

The Sun Dance of the Cheyenne

The Holiness Churches

Drug-induced altered states of consciousness

Hallucinogenic snuff among the Yanomamö

Tobacco in South America

Peyote in the Native American Church

Marijuana among the Rastafarians



Study questions

Suggested readings

Suggested websites


6 Religious specialists


Defining shamanism

Siberian shamanism

Korean shamanism

Pentecostal healers as shamans

Box 6.1 Clown doctors as shamans



Zuni priests

Okinawan priestesses

Eastern Orthodox priests

Other specialists

Healers and diviners

Box 6.2 African healers meet Western medicine




Study questions

Suggested readings

Suggested websites


7 Magic and divination

The nature of magic

Magic and religion

Rules of magic

Magic in society

Magic in the Trobriand Islands

Magic among the Azande

Sorcery among the Fore

Wiccan magic


Forms of divination

A survey of divination techniques

Box 7.1 I Ching: The Book of Changes

Box 7.2 Spiritualism and séances


Fore divination

Oracles of the Azande

Divination in Ancient Greece: the oracle at Delphi

Magical behavior and the human mind

Magical thinking

Why magic works



Study questions

Suggested readings

Suggested websites


8 Souls, ghosts, and death

Souls and ancestors

Variation in the concept of the soul

Box 8.1 How do you get to heaven?

Souls, death, and the afterlife

Examples of concepts of the soul


Box 8.2 Determining death

Bodies and souls


The living dead: vampires and zombies

Death rituals

Funeral rituals

Disposal of the body

U.S. death rituals in the nineteenth century

U.S. funeral rituals today

Days of death

Box 8.3 Roadside memorials



Study questions

Suggested readings

Suggested websites


9 Gods and spirits


The Dani view of the supernatural

Guardian spirits and the Native American vision quest


Christian angels and demons

Box 9.1 Christian demonic exorcism in the United States


Types of gods

Gods and society

Box 9.2 Games and gods

The gods of the Yoruba

The gods of the Ifugao


Monotheism: conceptions of god in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam




Study questions

Suggested readings

Suggested websites


10 Witchcraft

The concept of witchcraft in small-scale societies

Witchcraft among the Azande

Witchcraft among the Navaho

Witchcraft reflects human culture

Witchcraft and AIDS

Euro-American witchcraft beliefs

The connection with pagan religions

The Witchcraze in Europe

The Witchcraze in England and the United States

Box 10.1: The evil eye

Modern-day witch hunts

Box 10.2 Satanism



Study questions

Suggested readings

Suggested websites


11 The search for new meaning

Adaptation and change

Mechanisms of culture change

Haitian Vodou


Revitalization movements

The origins of revitalization movements

Types of revitalization movements

Cargo cults

Box 11.1 The John Frum cult

The Ghost Dance of 1890

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism)

Neo-Paganism and revival

The Wiccan movement

High demand religions

The “cult” question

Characteristics of high demand religions

Examples of high demand religions

UFO religions



Study questions

Suggested readings

Suggested websites


12 Religion, conflict, and peace

Religion and conflict

Role of religion in conflict and violence

Box 12.1 Nationalism as religion


Characteristics of fundamentalist groups

Case studies of religion and conflict

The Iranian Revolution

Box 12.2 The veil in Islam

The Arab Spring

The Hobby Lobby case in the United States

Religion, terrorism, and peace

Religious conflict and terrorism

Religion and peace



Study questions

Suggested readings

Suggested websites






1 Map showing location of societies discussed in text: Western Hemisphere 2 Map showing location of societies discussed in text: Eastern Hemisphere


1.1 Holism 1.2 Brain scans. Courtesy of Andrew Newberg 3.1 Navaho blanket with swastika. Arizona State Museum, University of

Arizona, Helga Teiwes, photographer 3.2 The pentagram 3.3 Some Christian symbols 3.4 The mayan cosmos. D. Donne BryantDDB Stock Photography, LLC 3.5 Yin-yang 4.1 Alterations of the human body. 4.1a © Bettman/CORBIS All Rights

Reserved; 4.1b © Westend61 GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo; 4.1c © Robert Estall photo agency / Alamy Stock Photo

4.2 Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Granger Collection, New York 5.1 Mayan carving. 5.1a © The Trustees of the British Museum; 5.1b © The

Trustees of the British Museum 5.2 San healing ceremony. © Peter Johnson/CORBIS All Rights Reserved 6.1 Shaman. Photo by Tao Zhang/Nur Photo. Sipa USA via AP

6.2 Okinawan priestesses. © Chris Willson / Alamy Stock Photo 7.1 Divination. © Earl and Nazima Kowall/CORBIS All Rights Reserved 7.2 Painting of the Pythia. Bpk, Berlin/Antikensammlung, Staatliche

Museen/Johannes Laurentius/Art Resource, NY 8.1 The Wheel of Life. © Getty Images/Time Life Pictures 8.2 Vampire burial. Courtesy of the Slavia Project and the Slavia Field School

in Mortuary Archaeology, Drawsko, Poland 8.3 The Day of the Dead. © Danny Lehman/CORBIS All Rights Reserved 9.1 The Greek pantheon 9.2 Venus of Willendorf. INTERFOTO / Alamy Stock Photo 9.3 The Hindu goddess Kali. © Earl and Nazima Kowall/CORBIS All Rights

Reserved 10.1 Execution of English witches. The Granger Collection, New York 11.1 Vodou altar. AP Photo/Lynsey Addiaro 11.2 Wiccan ritual. © Jim Cartier/Science Photo Library 11.3 Mass wedding of the Unification Church. CORBIS-NY 12.1 Hobby Lobby. Mark Wilson/Getty Images 12.2 Terrorist attacks in Paris. Patrick Kovarik/Getty Images


1.1 Culture areas of the world 1.2 Food-getting strategies 2.1 Forms of narrative 2.2 The monomyth in cinema: a sampling of common features 4.1 A classification of rituals 4.2 Causes and treatment of supernatural illnesses 4.3 Characteristics of liminality 5.1 Characteristics of altered states of consciousness 5.2 Factors bringing about an altered state of consciousness 5.3 Drugs that produce an altered state of consciousness 7.1 A classification of methods of divination with examples 9.1 The supernatural world of the Dani

9.2 The Roman gods and goddesses of agriculture 9.3 Some of the Yoruba orisha 11.1 The lwa of Haitian Vodou


Although courses in the anthropology of religion are usually upper-division courses taught at four-year institutions to anthropology majors, the course is increasingly being taught at the lower-division level, especially at community colleges. Here the emphasis is not on the training of majors, of whom there are few, but on meeting a general education requirement in the social sciences or humanities. Most significantly, this course is probably the only anthropology course that such students will take. Therefore the instructor has the obligation not only to discuss the topics of religion, but also to teach the student about the nature of anthropology and to present its basic principles.

We had great difficulty in finding a textbook that is appropriate for this type of course. Three types of books exist. First is the reader, which often includes articles that are too advanced for the introductory student. A major problem is the inconsistency of terminology and concepts as the student moves from article to article. The second is the general textbook on the anthropology of religion; but these appear to be written for upper-division students who have already been introduced to the field and often heavily emphasize theory. Third, there are abundant books on the more familiar world religions but few that discuss religions in small-scale societies, where much of the anthropological studies have been conducted. Our goal in writing this text has been to introduce the beginning student to the basic concepts involved in the anthropological study of religion, including an introduction to ethnographical information from a wide range of societies and a basic introduction to the field of anthropology.

One of the most difficult decisions we have had to make in writing this text is the organization and order of presentation of topics. The range of topics is large, and they overlap in myriad ways—everyone has his or her own approach. We have attempted to present the material beginning with basic concepts and proceeding to the more complex. For example, we begin with

myth, symbolism, and ritual before moving on to magic and witchcraft later in the text.

We have attempted to include a number of ethnographic examples with a good geographical distribution. Societies discussed in the text are included in Table 1.1, “Culture areas of the world,” and the locations of many of these are shown on the maps at the front of the book. Of course, many topics are associated with classic ethnographic studies, which have been included. We have also attempted to balance the presentation of a wide variety of cultures with the inclusion of certain key societies that reappear as examples of several topics throughout the text, to give students some continuity and a deeper understanding of a small group of societies. These societies include the Navaho of North America, the Yanomamö of South America, the Azande and Yoruba of Africa, the Murngin of Australia, and the Trobriand Islanders off the coast of New Guinea.

The writing of a manuscript is a major and complex undertaking. It is a thrill to see the book in print, but when reading it in book form and using it in class, the authors often see things that could have been done a little differently, as well as having ideas for new avenues to explore. We have continued to make a number of changes in this fourth edition. Some of these changes are minor: a little reorganization, an expansion or contraction of a particular topic, the introduction of a new example or elimination of an old one, and a little rewording to make the point a little clearer. Other changes are more substantial. For example, we have added a new Chapter 12 in which we discuss fundamentalism, formerly in Chapter 11, and new material on religion and conflict, violence and peace. We have added small sections on apotropaic features found in archaeological context, vampire beliefs in New English, big gods, and witchcraft in Soweto, South Africa. We have also added four new boxes on “The Power of Storytelling,” “Spiritualism and Séances,” “Nationalism as Religion,” and “The Veil in Islam.”

To assist the student in learning the material, we have divided each chapter into several sections with different levels of headings. Terms that appear in the Glossary have been set in bold. Each chapter concludes with a summary, study questions, suggested reading, and suggested websites. Additional materials for students and instructors are available on the companion website


We want to take this opportunity to thank the many faculty members who have aided us in the writing of this text by reviewing the manuscript and offering advice and suggestions.

Katherine Bradford, Los Angeles Mission College Nicola Denzey, Bowdoin College Charles O. Ellenbaum, College of DuPage Karen Fjelstad, Cabrillo College Wendy Fonarow, Glendale College Arthur Gribben, Los Angeles Mission College Amy Harper, Central Oregon Community College Barbara Hornum, Drexel University William Jankowiak, University of Nevada, Las Vegas Theresa Kintz, Wilkes University Debra L. Klein, Gavilan College Christopher Kovats-Bernat, Muhlenberg College Lilly M. Langer, Florida International University Phillip Naftaly, Adirondack Community College Lesley Northup, Florida International University Robin O’Brian, Elmira College Lisa Raskind, Los Angeles Valley College Cheryle Ross, Rio Hondo College Terry N. Simmons, Paradise Valley Community College

As well as the many anonymous reviewers for both Prentice Hall and Routledge.

We would like to thank everyone at Routledge for their assistance and support in the writing of this book. We also want to thank our students for

their assistance. After all, this book was written for them. The text was originally based on our lecture notes for an anthropology of religion course which developed over many years with student dialogue. The manuscript was then used as a textbook, which provided an opportunity for student feedback.

Finally, we wish to thank our respective spouses, Robert Frankle and Carol Stein, for their patience and support, and assistance.

Map 1 Map showing location of societies discussed in text: Western Hemisphere

Map 2 Map showing location of societies discussed in text: Eastern Hemisphere

Chapter 1 The anthropological study of religion

Human beings pose questions about nearly everything in the world, including themselves. The most fundamental of these questions are answered by a people’s religious beliefs and practices, which are the subject of this book. We will examine the religious lives of a broad range of human communities from an anthropological perspective.

The term anthropological perspective means many things. It is a theoretical orientation that will be discussed later in the chapter. It is also an approach that compares human societies throughout the world—contemporary and historical, industrial and tribal. Many college courses and textbooks focus on the best-known religions, those that are practiced by millions upon millions of people and are often referred to as the “world’s great religions”—Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, among others. This book will expand the subject matter to include and focus on lesser-known religious systems, especially those that are found in small-scale, traditional communities. As we do this, we want to look for commonalities as well as to celebrate diversity.

This book will not simply describe a series of religious systems. We will approach the study of religion by looking at particular topics that are usually included in the anthropological definition of religion and providing examples to illustrate these topics from the anthropological literature. We obviously are unable to present the thousands of religious systems that exist or have existed in the world, but we can provide a sample.

The anthropological perspective

The subject of this book is religion as seen from an anthropological perspective. What does this mean? The term anthropology refers to the study of humanity. However, anthropology shares this subject matter with many other disciplines—sociology, psychology, history, and political science, to name a few. So how is anthropology different from these other disciplines?

One way in which anthropology differs from other subjects is that anthropology is an integrated study of humanity. Anthropologists study human societies as systematic sums of their parts, as integrated wholes. We call this approach holism. For example, many disciplines study marriage. The anthropologist believes that a true understanding of marriage requires an understanding of all aspects of the society. Marriage is profoundly influenced by politics and law, economics, ethics, and theology; in turn, marriage influences history, literature, art, and music. The same is true of religious practices and beliefs.

The holistic nature of anthropology is seen in the various divisions of the field. Traditional anthropologists speak of four-fields anthropology. These four fields are physical anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology, and cultural anthropology. Today, with the rapid increase and complexity of anthropological studies, anthropologists are becoming more and more specialized and focused on particular topics. The often-simplistic concept of anthropology as being composed of the integrated study of these four fields is rapidly breaking down, but a review of these four fields will acquaint those who are studying anthropology for the first time with the essential nature of the discipline.

Physical anthropology is the study of human biology and evolution. Physical anthropologists are interested in genetics and genomics; evolutionary theory; the biology and behavior of the primates, the group of animals that includes monkeys, apes, and humans; and paleontology, the study of the fossil record. Anthropologists with a biological orientation discuss the evolutionary origins and the neurobiology of religious experience.

Archaeology is the study of people who are known only from their physical and cultural remains; it gives us insight into the lives of now extinct societies. Evidence of religious expression can be seen in the ruins of ancient

temples and in the art and writings of people who lived in societies that have faded into history.

The field of linguistic anthropology is devoted to the study of language, which, according to many anthropologists, is a unique feature of humans. Much of religious practice is linguistic in nature, involving the recitation of words, and the religious beliefs of a people are expressed in their myths and literature.

Cultural anthropology is the study of contemporary human societies and makes up the largest area of anthropological study. Cultural anthropologists study a people’s social organization, economics and technology, political organization, marriage and family life, child-rearing practices, and so forth. The study of religion is a subject within the general field of cultural anthropology. However, we will be drawing on all four subfields in our examination of religion.

The holistic approach

Studying a society holistically is a very daunting task. It requires a great deal of time—time to observe human behavior and time to interview members of a society. Because of the necessity of having to limit the scope of a research project, anthropologists are noted for their long-term studies of small, remote communities. However, as isolated small communities become increasingly incorporated into larger political units, anthropologists are turning more and more to the study of larger, more complex societies. Yet even within a more complex society, anthropologists maintain a limited focus. For example, within an urban setting, anthropologists study specific companies, hospitals, neighborhoods, gangs, clubs, and churches. Anthropological studies take place over long periods of time and usually require the anthropologist to live within the community and to participate to a degree in the lives of the people under study, while at the same time making objective observations. This technique of study is referred to as participant observation.

Students of anthropology are initially introduced to small communities such as foraging bands, small horticultural villages, and groups of pastoral nomads. They become familiar with the lives of the Trobriand Islanders off

the coast of New Guinea, the Navaho of the American Southwest, the Yanomamö of northern South America, the Murngin of northern Australia, and the San of southern Africa. Some people refer to these societies as being “primitive,” but primitive is a pejorative term, one laden with negative connotations such as inferior and “less than.” A better term is small-scale. When we say small-scale, we refer to relatively small communities, villages, and bands that practice foraging, herding, or technologically simple horticulture.

We will also be examining aspects of what are often referred to as the “world’s great religions.” Like the term primitive, the term great involves a value judgment. These familiar religions include Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. They are similar in that the origins of these religions are based on the lives of a particular individual or founder, such as Moses, Christ, Mohammad, and the Buddha. These religions have spread into thousands of different societies, and their adherents number in the millions. The small-scale societies that are more traditionally studied by anthropologists, by contrast, are usually not based on the lives of particular prophets or founders. They tend to be limited to one or a few societies, and their adherents might number only a few hundred or a few thousand.

If they involve only a very small number of people, then why study these small-scale religions? Among the many questions that anthropologists ask about humanity are the following: Are there characteristics that are found in all human societies, what we might call human universals? And when we look at universals, or at least at very widespread features, what are the ranges of variation? Returning to the example of marriage, we could ask the following questions: Is marriage found in all human societies? And what are the various forms that marriage takes? We might ask similar questions about religion. To answer these questions, anthropologists go out into the field, study particular communities, and write reports describing these communities. Questions of universality and variability can be answered on the basis of descriptions of hundreds of human societies.

In addition, the goal of anthropology is to study the broad range of human beliefs and behaviors, to discover what it means to be human. This is best accomplished by examining religious and other cultural phenomena in a wide variety of cultures of different sizes and structures, including our own. It is often said that the aim of anthropology is to make the strange familiar and the

familiar strange. Only through cross-cultural comparisons is this possible.

The study of human societies

Ethnography is the descriptive study of human societies. People who study human societies and write ethnographies about them are cultural anthropologists; they are sometimes referred to as ethnographers.

However, not all descriptions of human societies are written by ethnographers. For example, an archaeologist is someone who studies the physical and cultural remains of societies that existed in the past and are known today only from their ruins, burials, and garbage. Yet archaeologists can, to a limited degree, reconstruct the lives of people who lived in ancient societies. Sometimes the only descriptions we have of people’s lives are those written in diaries and reports by explorers and colonial administrators. Although these descriptions are far from complete and objective, they do provide us with some information.

Although we will visit a few societies that are known solely from their archaeological remains, most of the examples in this book are from societies that exist today or have existed in the recent past. Many of the societies we will discuss were first visited and described by anthropologists in the early to mid-1900s. Although these societies have changed over time, as all groups do, and although many of these societies have passed out of existence, anthropologists speak of them in the ethnographic present; that is, we discuss these groups in the present tense as they were first described by ethnograp

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