Anthropology of Religion - 1st semester


The curricular unit provides an overview of anthropological approaches to religious phenomena, focusing on contemporary theoretical convergences and divergences around key issues such as: commensurability and incommensurability, religious pluralism and variation of actors, the sacred and the supernatural in the problematics of defining religion, the \"reenchantment\" of anthropology and the world. At the same time, students will explore the historical and political dimension of religious phenomena in colonial and post-colonial contexts, encompassing dimensions of interaction between religion and \"globalization\" from the perspective of its antecedents. Students are expected to: acquire knowledge of the concepts and lexicon inherent to the discipline and their theoretical and contextual variations, in a comparative approach of authors and perspectives; develop critical analysis and interpretation skills, as well as ethnographic and historical sensibility around case studies.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Sónia Sofia de Sousa Alves Ferreira


Weekly - 4

Total - Available soon

Teaching language





Cannell, F. (ed.). 2006. The Anthropology of Christianity. Durham: Duke University Press Lambek, M. (ed.) A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion, London: Blackwell Lehmann, A.C., J. Myers & P.A. Moro. 1985. Magic, Witchcraft and Religion. An Anthropological Study of the Supernatural. Boston: McGraw Hill Lessa, W. & E. Vogt (eds). 1985. Reader in Comparative Religion. An Anthropological Approach. New York: Harper & Row Morris, B. 1987. Anthropological Studies of Religion. Cambridge: University Press Turner, Victor W. 1985. \"Religious Specialists\". In Lessa & Vogt (eds), Reader in Comparative Religion. New York, Harper & Row, 81-88

Teaching method

Courses follow a theoretical-practical methodology. In each course, there is a first moment of presentation of key ideas by the teacher, with the help of a powerpoint show with selected quotations and images, in open interaction with the students through questions, comments and free interventions. In a second moment, which may cross the first presentation, students are invited to analyse in more detail, through a collective discussion, certain passages or other contents which permit to deepen the subjects previously exposed in a synthetic way; and also to make brief group exercises of analysis and interpretation. In some courses, a third moment is dedicated to debating.

Evaluation method

Evaluation is based on two written tests e and on exercises made in class, although students may choose as an alternative a single global written test.

Subject matter

1. Dimensions and axes of contemporary approaches to religion 1.1 The autonomy of the anthropological perspective 1.2. Commensurability and incommensurability 1.3 Religious pluralism and variation of actors 2. From disenchantment to the reenchantment of anthropology 2.1. The sacred and the supernatural in the problem of the definition of religion 2.2 Function and meaning: \"sociocentric\" approaches 2.3 From the threshold of religious experience to the reality of spirits 3. Themes, lexicon and typologies of anthropology of religion 4. The classics of the dossier of prophetic-messianic movements 5. Contemporary case studies (e.g. Queer neo-shamans and paranormal investigation in the UK at the turn of the 21st century) 6. The ethnographic diversity of Christianity


Programs where the course is taught: