Conceptualizing Religion: Immanent Anthropologists, Transcendent Natives, and Unbounded Categories

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Berghahn Books, 1993 - Law - 292 pages
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How might we transform a folk category - in this case religion - into a analytical category suitable for cross-cultural research? In this volume, the author addresses that question. He critically explores various approaches to the problem of conceptualizing religion, particularly with respect to certain disciplinary interests of anthropologists. He argues that the concept of family resemblances, as that concept has been refined and extended in prototype theory in the contemporary cognitive sciences, is the most plausible analytical strategy for resolving the central problem of the book. In the solution proposed, religion is conceptualized as an affair of "more or less" rather than a matter of "yes or no," and no sharp line is drawn between religion and non-religion.


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Abjuring a Definition and Other Matters
Holding a Definition in Abeyance
Resemblance and Polythesis
A Prototype Approach
Ethnocentrism and Distanciation
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About the author (1993)

Benson Saler is Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University and a former Interim Vice PResident of the Anthropology of Religion Section of the American Anthropological Association. He has carried out ethnographic fieldwork in Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela, and the United States. His current research is largely dircted to certain aspects of "popular culture" in the United States.

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