Anthropology of Religion
Inquiring into the relationship between the divine, sacred, and the social order, and attendant beliefs, movements, and institutions are some of the oldest questions in Anthropology and continue to be some of the most relevant to the modern world. Our faculty seek to understand what faith is and why faith persists, when mysticism emerges in complex societies, and how to understand claims which do not on the surface appear to be religious but are treated as central to religious identity. We examine both the macro structure of the way politics emerge from religious conflict, why the distinction between religion and politics holds such force, and the microstructure of the way gods and spirits come to feel real to people. We ask how secular and sacred traditions are alike and different and attend to the distinctive questions which arise from the provocations of a theory of tradition itself. Our courses and research also address the questions of discipline, virtue, and emotion. Through their focus on practice and learning they bring the anthropology of religion into conversation with questions of ethics and moral philosophy.