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exploring 'cultures': the textuality of interpretation and intellectual fashions. Removing 'ethnocentricity' and the importance of 'context'.


Exploring Religions and Cultures



About this Module


This course aimed to introduce students to the exploration of non-western cultures and religions, the meanings and values associated to rituals, beliefs, practices. An introductory look into the creation of religious and cultural meanings.


The course aimed at encouraging students to read ethnographies and reviewing anthropological text that dealt with issues of culture and religion.


Aims: to familiarise with:

Describing Anthropology, Looking at Culture and its definitions, definitions of religion and ritual, understanding ethnocentrism and prejudice, how to do fieldwork about 'religion', understanding cultural practices 'from the natives point of view'. Gain confidence in reading and writing anthropology, to gain understanding of comparison and interpretation, and to understand the nature of cotnext when studying 'cultures' and 'religions'.



I created this module in 2005. Prior to 2005 I was teaching a 20 credit module called 'Reading and Writing' that was an excellent introduction to Anthropology and complemented my colleagues, Kirtsoglou's compulsory 'Anthropology in Context', and a further modul re-written as 'Exploring Culture' (10 credits).


In 2003/2004 I had been teaching 'Exploring Religion and Culture in Japan' as a way of both targeting the introduction of these themes in level 1 and responding to student's demands on the popularity of Japanese ethnography courses. In 2004, I felt the module could gain from an additional and specific course on the themes that students pointed out in their feedback forms across the board, namely, a further course on culture and religion. This was 'Exploring Culture'.


With staff loses, students had detected a gap in our curriculum in the area of anthropology of religion. This course meant to introduce key themes on this area and thus help to prepare students who were hoping to undertake further modules in the area of religious studies that was a pathway in our degree structure.


In 2005 I decided to unify the previous 'reading and writting anthropology', 'exploring cultures' and 'exploring religion and culture in Japan' into one single module 'Exploring Religions and Cultures'.  Religions and Cultures benefited from the earlier modules in that we had a basic line we wanted to develop and also we had some years of experience and we knew what worked well and not so for these kinds of courses.


Critical Thinking strategies

In this respect the two key ideas we were hoping for students to explore were. Read more... 




The Full Handout includes the following:


1- Course Description

2- Learning Objectives and Aims

3- Bibliography

4- Assessment

5- Course Itinerary

6- Example of Record of Study (working journal)

8- Lecture and Tutorial Handouts

9- PowerPoints
10- Previous Handout Course



lectures and tutorials:


1- Introduction (2 weeks)

2- Culture and Religion (2 weeks)

3- Dance (performance & embodiment)

4- Pilgrimage

5- The Body

6- Death in Greece

7- Dressing and Fashion,

8- Mythology

9- Anthropology as Cultural Critique

10- Ritual ( 2 weeks)

11- Rites of Passage

12- Symbolic Boundaries (2 weeks)

13- Witchcraft (2 weeks)

14- Shamanism

15- Festivals and Carnivals




Definitions of Culture

Geertz & Thick Description

Definitions of Religion

Rituals: function and meaning

Rites of Passage