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People rely on religion and various belief systems to bring meaning and understanding to everyday life. This course will show how anthropologists unravel and interpret cultural belief systems to gain insight into the cultural environment. Cross-cultural ethnographic examples will illustrate the various ways in which Anthropologists analyze belief systems as a way to understand a culture. Topics include religion, worldview, symbolism, taboo, myth, ritual, witchcraft, shamanism, religious practitioners, magic, healing, and spirits. Students must be prepared to look at both literate and pre-literate ritual systems. Non-Western belief systems are contrasted with religions of the Western world.


OER created through the NYCCT OER Faculty Fellowship.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.



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