Resistance, Subversion and the Absence of Religion in Traditional Societies
Religion Evolving - Cultural, Cognitive, and Ecological Dynamics - Benjamin Grant Purzycki
Benjamin Grant Purzycki [+]
Richard Sosis [+]
University of Connecticut
While Chapters 1 and 2 offer initial conceptions of religion’s flexibility, functionality, and universality, Chapter 3 addresses more concrete questions about the absence of religion around the world, such as: How prevalent is religious doubt among the traditional, small-scale populations typically studied by anthropologists? Do traditional peoples resist religious mores? If so, how? We first consider the claim that some small-scale populations lack religion, or certain forms of religion, by examining ethnographic material from the Hadza and Pirahã, two prominent examples of populations that allegedly lack religion. Our review of these materials demonstrates that these populations do indeed possess what most would define as religion. We then discuss cases where populations incorporate subversion into religious traditions, positing that while religion is universal, doubt is also a ubiquitous feature of our species.