Anthropology 135A: Religion & Social Order

This course is an anthropological exploration of religions in diverse cultural and historical contexts. Our focus will be on relations of power, social order, social change, gender, and the role that religion plays in modernity, transnationalism, and globalization. We will investigate the performance of rites and rituals, and the cultural expressions of religious beliefs and practices. Through comparative and critical strategies, we will look at how religion interacts with, and is embedded in other aspects of society. In doing so, we will find religious elements in unexpected places. We will study anthropological theories of culture and religion from the classical canon, in addition to contemporary approaches, and apply them to a variety of topics. While respecting the efficacy of all systems of belief, we will think about how religions orient people to their social worlds in ways that are systematically related to historical and cultural change.