The Anthropology of Magic


Mankind has long attempted to master magic: action(s) intended to invoke and influence suprasensible forces. Many of us still practice magic today, knowingly or unknowingly. Cultural anthropologists and ethnologists provide accounts about the histories of magicians into the present, but ancient material evidence of magic is also supplied to archaeologists. This course draws from these kinds of sources to appreciate the roles magic plays in past and present cultures. Guided by Anthony Aveni's textbook Behind the Crystal Ball, this course highlights how magic inspired innovative concepts and practices, including those that propel modern science today. Using globally diverse case studies, this course provides a conceptual framework for understanding the social roles of magic at different scales and expose magic in political, religious, and scientific contexts. What cultural values arepreserved by magical practices? In what ways doesmagic fulfill societal needs? What legacies doesmagic leave for our benefit or deficit today? Following a midterm covering essential concepts, students will pursue independent projects that examine the material and ethnohistorical evidence for magic in specific cultural contexts. Fulfilling these requirements, students will learn how to analytically approach "othered" (or exoticized) behaviors as attempts to better understand the social and physical world.
Course Attributes: BU Hum; BU BA; AS LCD; AS SSC; EN S

Section 01

The Anthropology of Magic - 01
View Course Listing - SP2022

This course satisfies



Course Requirements

Anthropology Major Elective