REL 274 Spring 2015 Ritual, Power and Transgression (W)

Cross Listed as ANTH299
Anthropology began, in part, as an effort to study "savage" cultures before they disappeared under the onslaught of modern civilization, and indeed most of the societies investigated by early anthropologists no longer exist or survive in completely altered form. As they lost their original object of study, however, anthropologists also discovered that the tools and concepts developed in the study of "primitive" cultures could be applied to the contemporary world. Exploring this possibility, this course examines the relevance of fundamental anthropological concepts that have developed through the structural and symbolic study of myth and ritual to the contemporary world in which we live. The course is divided into four sections. In the first unit, we read and discuss the work of Mary Douglas, Victor Turner, and Marshall Sahlins on myth and ritual, focusing in particular on the ways in which different cultures construct categories of inclusion and exclusion, safe and dangerous, pure and impure, while also creating the "in between" spaces within which both creativity and transgression emerge. On this foundation, we move to the second unit in which we discuss the structural relationship between ritual, power, and transgression in western contexts, taking the majority of our examples from early modern European and American history. In the third section of the course, we consider what an anthropological perspective can reveal about some seminal events in 20th century history, and we end the course by considering how anthropological theory informs two critical areas of current concern: immigration and national security.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation, two short response papers, 10-page research paper, final exam
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Prerequisites: ANTH 101, SOC 101, REL 101, or any other ANTH or SOC course
Enrollment Preference: Anthropology, Sociology or Religion majors
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Divisional Attributes: Division II,Writing Intensive
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Enrollment Limit: 19
Expected Enrollment: 19
Class Number: 3153
REL 274 - 01 (S) SEM Ritual, Power & Transgression (W) Division 2: Social StudiesWriting Intensive Cancelled 3153
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