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Anthropology of belief and knowledge

Учебный год
Обучение ведется на английском языке
Когда читается:
3, 4 модуль


Course Syllabus


Anthropology of both religion and science seek an understanding of an understanding: it aims at grasping what people across cultures admit to be true. How various systems of knowledge and belief distinguish the rational and the irrational? What is sense and senselessness? How knowledge, belief, intuition and revelation are distinguished in different social and cultural contexts? How epistemologies are related to aesthetics, ethics, moral order and everyday knowledge practices? We consider these questions by drawing on detailed ethnographies of science and religion. Cases that we explore range from studies of shamanism and conspiracy theories to economic rationality; include ethnographies of Christianity and Islam, and various knowledge systems from fortune-telling to big data. The course will also assess the applied skills that anthropologists have developed in these fields. This includes anthropological mediation of indigenous knowledge, cultural property, and negotiations of boundaries of science, culture and religion.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • be able not only read key ethnographies, but also make an individual research, based on the unique ethnographic experience, applying the skills learnt through the course.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Students will get to know the milestones in the history of anthropological thought
  • Will be guided through their first steps in the making of the anthropological research
  • Will get practice of critical and analytical thinking through the discussions of the key ethnographies of classical and contemporary anthropology.
  • Will learn a variety of research methods applicable for the anthropology of science and religion
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Anthropology and Imperial Knowledge
  • Anthropology and science studies
  • Symbol, classification & culture
  • Magic
  • Rationality & belief
  • Pollution & taboo
  • Ontological turn
  • Transparency and Conspiracy
  • Religion vs Science: the Case of Creationism
  • Economic Theologies
  • The concepts of time and cause. Conspiracy theories, truth and suspicion
  • Exchange in science
  • Religious conversion and pedagogies of persuasion
  • Is secular world possible?
  • Ontological turn and perspectivism
  • Ritual, Agency and Power. Film: Mad Masters
  • “Technologies of self” and religious practices
  • Ethical turn and the study of religion
  • Technologies of Mediation. Revision and colloquium.
  • Death and Ancestors.
  • Sacred necropolitics
  • Body and Discipline
  • Materiality and Affect
  • The Power of Words: Ritual and Language
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking attendance
  • non-blocking project essay
  • non-blocking final essay exam
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • 2021/2022 4th module
    0.5 * final essay exam + 0.5 * project essay


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Belton, P. (2018). Mary Douglas’s Purity and Danger : An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. London: Macat Library. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1723201

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Ushakin, S. (2009). The Patriotism of Despair : Nation, War, and Loss in Russia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=2183689