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This book traces the birth and development of two related but distinct disciplines, anthropology and the study of religions. It begins by locating these within the intellectual climate of the nineteenth century, and within this historical framwork goes on to discuss the contributions of such significant scholars as James George Frazer, F. Max Muller, Emile Durkheim, Mary Douglas and Clifford Geertz. The author argues that both anthropologists and students of religion have abandoned an impersonal, so-called 'objective'approach in favour of personal engagement with their subjects, replacing observation with conversation, mologue with dialogue and text-based wiwith a people-based approach. The book reveals how each discipline has influenced the other, both in terms of methodology and by the provision of data. It also explores the criticism levelled at both disciplines, that they have aided colonial domination of the developing world.
Clinton Bennett teaches Religious Studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz, and at Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY, USA.