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Magic, Science, Religion

This anthropology course examines perceptions about the way in which the world is structured, ordered and functions, including how these perceptions influence our beliefs and actions. In the course, we will compare the perspectives of science, magic and religion through readings, films and discussions. We will ask What is magic? What is science? And what is religion? How are the three related? And in what ways are they different? In this course, we will explore these questions through readings that include Keith Thomas’ Religion and the Decline of Magic, Sylvia Frederici’s Witches, Witch-Hunting and Women, Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, and Emily Martin's "The Egg and the Sperm." Along with reading ethnographies about magic, science, and religion that are drawn from across the world, each week we will also think carefully about and discuss, contemporary events and practices relevant to our context and interests. We will read texts actively and closely, formulate your own interpretations or them, make persuasive arguments about them, and work with a community of writers and thinkers. Respect for diverse systems of belief is an essential part of the conversation in this class. This is true for most classes, but particularly true for a class that deals with religious belief. My hope is that we will leave this class with further insights into how to think about, write about, and live with difference.

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka