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November 17 , 2008

Ritual and Memory

Toward a Comparative Anthropology of Religion


Ethnographers of religion have created a vast record of religious behavior from small-scale non-literate societies to globally distributed religions in urban settings. So a theory that claims to explain prominent features of ritual, myth, and belief in all contexts everywhere causes ethnographers a skeptical pause. In Ritual and Memory, however, a wide range of ethnographers grapple critically with Harvey Whitehouse's theory of two divergent modes of religiosity. Although these contributors differ in their methods, their areas of fieldwork, and their predisposition towards Whitehouse's cognitively-based approach, they all help evaluate and refine Whitehouse's theory and so contribute to a new comparative approach in the anthropology of religion.

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