Week 1: Introduction – What is Religion?

1.Geertz, Clifford, “Religion as a cultural system”. In: Banton, Michael, ed. 2004. Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion. London: Taylor & Francis Group. Accessed March 16, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central.


Durkheim, Emile. 2003. “From the Elementary Forms of Religious Life.”  Understanding Religious Sacrifice : A Reader. Carter, Jeffrey, ed London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. Accessed March 16, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central. (pages 129-138)

Week 2: Symbols

1.Ortner, Sherry B. “On Key Symbols.” American Anthropologist, New Series, 75, no. 5 (1973): 1338-346. Accessed March 16, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/674036.

2. Wolf, Eric R. “The Virgin of Guadalupe: A Mexican National Symbol.” The Journal of American Folklore 71, no. 279 (1958): 34-39. Accessed March 16, 2021. doi:10.2307/537957.

Week 3: Worldview

1.Weber, Max. 2001. “The Spirit of Capitalism” in Protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus. Florence: Taylor & Francis Group. Accessed March 16, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central.

2.Montague, Susan P and Robert Morais “Football Games and Rock Concerts:  The Ritual Enactment of American Success Model” ” in The American Dimension: Cultural Myths and Social Realities, edited by W. Arens and Susan Montague.  Sherman Oaks, California: Alfred Publishing, 1981.


Bellah, R.  “Civil Religion in America,” in Dædalus, Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, from the issue entitled, “Religion in America,” Winter 1967, Vol. 96, No. 1, pp. 1-21.

Week 4: Taboo

1.Douglas, Professor Mary, and Douglas, Mary. 2002. “The Abominations of Leviticus” in Purity and Danger : An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo Florence: Taylor & Francis Group. Accessed March 16, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central.

( only read chapter 3 “ The Abominations of Leviticus” pp on printed page 42-58).

2.Tsitsos, William. 2018. “Race, Class, and Place in the Origins of Techno and Rap Music.” Popular Music & Society 41 (3): 270–82. doi:10.1080/03007766.2018.1519098

*Look at how this article applies Mary Douglas’ theory to the study of Music

Week 5: Totemism

1.Dundes, Alan. 1997. “Binary Opposition in Myth: The Propp/Levi-Strauss Debate in Retrospect.” Western Folklore 56 (1): 39. doi:10.2307/1500385.

2.Phillips, Susan. 2021 “Gang Graffiti as Totemism” in American Anthropologist, Vol. 00, No. 0, pp. 1-15.


Levi-Strauss, Claude. 2014 “Overture” in Myths and Mythologies : A Reader. Edited by Sinding Jensen, Jeppe. Sheffield: Taylor & Francis Group. Accessed March 16, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central. (I will refer to Claude Levi-Strauss when I talk about Structuralism)

Week 6: Myth and Folktales

1.Malinowski, Bronislaw. 2014.  “Myth in Primitive Psychology,” in Myths and Mythologies : A Reader. Edited by Sinding Jensen, Jeppe. Sheffield: Taylor & Francis Group. Accessed March 16, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central.

(Read pages 146- 157. Malinowski is known for his “functionalist” approach, and I will use this article as a springboard for discussion of functionalist theory.

2.Klaus, Simona. 2010. “Heroes in Virtual Space.” Studia Ethnologica Croatica 22 (January): 361–91. http://citytech.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=sih&AN=57085379&site=ehost-live&scope=site

(I will discuss Joseph Campbell’s A Hero’s Journey as it relates to Klaus’ article)


1Campbell, Joseph 2004 The Hero with a Thousand Faces Bolligen Series, No. 17. Princeton University Press.

Look especially at chapter 1 “The Adventure of the Hero” pages 45-233.  Look at the table of contents as it outlines his argument.  This is too long a piece to assign for a class, but if you want to browse it can be interesting.

2. . Deyneka, Leah. 2012.  “May the Myth Be With You Always” in Myth, Media, and Culture in Star Wars : An Anthology, edited by Douglas Brode, and Leah Deyneka, Scarecrow Press, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central.

(Read only Chapter 4 pages 35-48)

Week 7: Ritual

1.Geertz, Clifford. “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight.” Daedalus 134, no. 4 (2005): 56-86. Accessed March 16, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20028014.

2.Li, Meng. 2014. “Ritual and Social Change: Chinese Rural–Urban Migrant Workers’ Spring Festival Homecoming as Secular Pilgrimage.”Journal of Intercultural Communication Research 43 (2): 113–33. doi:10.1080/17475759.2014.892896.


Examples of ritual of reversal, race, power.

1.Mueller, J.C., Dirks, D. & Picca, L.H. Unmasking Racism: Halloween Costuming and Engagement of the Racial Other. Qual Sociol 30, 315–335 (2007). https://doi-org.citytech.ezproxy.cuny.edu/10.1007/s11133-007-9061-1

2.McCoy-Torres, Sabia. 2018. “Alternative Spatiality and Temporality: Diasporic Mobilities and Queer West Indian Inclusion.Global South 12 (1): 59–88. doi:10.2979/globalsouth.12.1.05.

Week 8: Rites of Passage

1.Turner, Victor “Liminality and Communitas”, in Reader in the Anthropology of Religion. Edited by Michael Lambek. Blackwell Anthologies: New York, 2008.

2.Winslow, Donna. 1999. “Rites of Passage and Group Bonding in the Canadian Airborne.” Armed Forces & Society (0095327X)25 (3): 429–57. doi:10.1177/0095327X9902500305.

Optional :

1.Van Gennep, Arnold “The Rites of Passage” in  Death, Mourning, and Burial: A Cross-Cultural Reader, 2nd Edition  edited by Antonius C.G.M. Robben. Wiley Blackwell Press, pp 34-

2.MacWilliams, Mark W. 2002. “Virtual Pilgrimages on the Internet” in Religion, Vol. 32 (4), October 2002, Pages 315-335.

Week 9: Witchcraft

 1.Evans-Pritchard, EE “Witchcraft Explains Unfortunate Events ” in  Reader in Comparative Religion: An Anthropological Approach edited by William A. Lessa and Evon Z. Vogt.  New York: Harper & Row, 1979

2. Start to read book: McCarthy Brown, Karen  Mama Lola:  A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn. Berkeley:  University of California Press, 1991.

Mama Lola #1


Bleyenberg, Eva, and Koen Stroeken. 2018. “When a Rash Has Two Names: Pese Sorcery and Kisigo Spirits at Lake Tanganyika.Anthropology & Medicine 25 (2): 206–19. doi:10.1080/13648470.2017.1308187.

Week 10: Magic

1.Tambiah, Stanley.  2017 “Form and Meaning of Magical Acts,” Reprinted by HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 7 (3) 451-473.

2.Gmelch, George 2000 “Baseball Magic”  Revised version of “Superstition and Ritual in American Baseball” in Elysian Fields Quarterly, Vol. 11, No. 3, 1992, pp 25-36.

3.(Continue to read book)  Karen McCarthy Brown Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn.Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

Mama Lola #2


Bronislaw Malinowski “The Role of Magic and Religion” in Reader in Comparative Religion: The Function of Religion in Human Society,4th Edition, Lessa and Vogt, pp37-46, 1979.

Frazer, James (1878) The Golden Bough, Temple of Earth Publishing. Look at Chapter 3: Sympathetic Magic. (pages 19b-52a)


Frazer, James 2010. “Sympathetic Magic” In Ritual and Belief : Readings in the Anthropology of Religion. in Hicks, David, ed. Blue Ridge Summit: AltaMira Press. Accessed March 23, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Week 11: Identity, Memory and Belief Systems

  1. Chong, Kelly H. “What it means to be Christian: The Role of Religion in the Construction of Ethnic Identity and Boundary Among Second-Generation Korean Americans” in Sociology of Religion, Vol. 59, No. 3 (Autumn 1998), pp. 259-286).
  2. Hobsbawm, Eric “Introduction: Inventing Traditions” in The Invention of Tradition, Eds. Eric Hobsbawm, & Terence Ranger. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-14, 1983.
  3. (Continue to read book)  Karen McCarthy Brown Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn.Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991. Mama Lola #3


1.Behar, Ruth 2008. “Folklore and the Search for Home (American Folklore Plenary Address, October 2008).” Journal of American Folklore. Summer 2009, Vol. 122 Issue 485, P. 251-266. 16p.

2.Myerhoff, Barbara 1978. “Jewish Comes up in you from the Roots , in Number Our Days. Touchtone Book: New York, 1978, pp232-268

3.Murthy, Dhiraj. “Muslim Punks Online: A Diasporic Pakistani Music Subculture on the Internet.” South Asian Popular Culture, vol. 8, no. 2, July 2010, pp. 181–194. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/14746681003797997. (Also about virtual communities)

Week 12: Religious Practitioners, Religion & Healing

Book: McCarthy Brown, Karen  Mama Lola: 1991. A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn. Berkeley:  University of California Press, 1991

Other articles by Karen McCarthy Brown:

McCarthy Brown, Karen. 1999. “Telling a Life: Race, Memory, and Historical Consciousness” in Anthropology and Humanism 24(2): 148-154.

McCarthy Brown, Karen . 1996. “Altars Happen.” African Arts 29, no. 2 (1996): 67. Accessed March 24, 2021. doi:10.2307/3337369.

McCarthy Brown, Karen. 1987. “”Plenty Confidence in Myself”: The Initiation of a White Woman Scholar into Haitian Vodou.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 3, no. 1 (1987): 67-76. Accessed March 24, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25002057.


1. Ostenfeld-Rosenthal, Ann “Energy healing and the placebo effect. An Anthropological perspective on the placebo effectAnthropology & Medicine, Vol. 19, No. 3, December 2012, 327-338.

2.Poss, Jane and Mary Ann Jezewski (2002) “The Role and Meaning of Susto in Mexican Americans’ Explanatory Model of Type 2 DiabetesMedical Anthropology Quarterly , New Series, Vol. 16, No. 3 (Sep., 2002), pp. 360-377.

Week 13: Ghosts and Spirits

1.Bosco, Joseph. 2003. “The Supernatural in Hong Kong Young People’s Ghost Stories¹.” Anthropological Forum 13 (2): 141–49. Accessed March 17 ,2021. doi:10.1080/0066467032000129806.

2.Freed, Stanley A., and Ruth S. Freed. 1990. “Taraka’s Ghost.” Natural History 99 (10): 84.

Week 14: Syncretism, Power, Resistance & Cultural Change

1.Taussig, Michael. “The Genesis of Capitalism amongst a South American Peasantry: Devil’s Labor and the Baptism of Money.”Comparative Studies in Society and History 19, no. 2 (1977): 130-55. Accessed March 23, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/178173.

2.Herriman, Nicholas. 2015. “The Morbid Nexus: Reciprocity and Sorcery in Rural East Java.” Australian Journal of Anthropology 26 (2): 255–75. doi:10.1111/taja.12110.

Week 15: Revitalization Movements

1.Wallace, Anthony 1956 “Revitalization Movements” in American Anthropologist Vol. 58 (2). April 1, 1956


Bonilla, Heraclio. “Religious Practices in the Andes and Their Relevance to Political Struggle and Development: The Case of El Tío and Miners in Bolivia.” Mountain Research and Development 26, no. 4 (2006): 336-42. Accessed March 24, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4540653.

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