ANTHRCUL 299 - Topics in Linguistic Anthropology
Section: 101 Magic, Spirituality and Religion: The Linguistic and Cultural Practices of Belief
Term: SP 2009
Subject: Anthropology, Cultural (ANTHRCUL)
Department: LSA Anthropology
Requirements & Distribution:
May be repeated for a maximum of 12 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:

  • What makes certain practices extraordinary? Supernatural? Sacred? Divine? Magical?
  • How do belief and faith become successfully expressed and enacted?
  • How do these articulations and interpretations vary and overlap across cultures and belief systems?
  • How do they affect or relate to other cultural beliefs and social structures?

This course uses cross-cultural cases and anthropological analyses to think about the ways in which language and cultural practices are involved in the expression and interpretation of belief. We will focus on various aspects of belief, faith and religious practice: religious talk, ritual performances, spiritual embodiments, expression of metaphysical knowledge and the transformations from the everyday into the extraordinary. We will critically consider terms such as belief, faith, and culture. By focusing on these aspects through readings, lectures, in-class discussions and films, we will address how “beliefs” and understandings become “manifested” and “embodied”. We will consider who is able to manifest and embody them and how belief and faith become interpreted, often affecting other spheres of sociality and culture. We will ask ourselves: how do the linguistic and cultural aspects of belief transform people, spaces and things?

Social, cultural and linguistic understandings of the range of belief systems considered throughout the course will require that students be open-minded and respectful of differing opinions and practices as well as conscientious of not unilaterally privileging their own experiences of belief, faith and/or religion over those we consider throughout the course. Instead, by focusing on the anthropological and linguistic aspects of these themes, we will gain insight into the multiple expressions and materializations of belief.

The course is organized into seven weekly topics. Each of these topics addresses the linguistic and cultural aspects of belief as they materialize throughout different systems of spirituality and through distinctive cultures.

ANTHRCUL 299 - Topics in Linguistic Anthropology
Schedule Listing
101 (LEC)
TuTh 1:00PM - 4:00PM
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