Geertz And Asad Analysis

1536 Words 7 Pages
Cesar Contreras
African Religions: Through the Lenses of Geertz and Asad
This paper argues that limited African religious practices support Clifford Geertz and Talal Asad’s definition of religion. I will explore artistic expression, personhood and divination through Geertz and Asad 's theories. Geertz was an anthropologist recognized for his work on cultural symbols. Asad was an anthropologist who explained the relevance of power. Asad criticized Geertz’s theory because it lacked disciplina. Asad (1986:14) defined disciplina as set of practices and dialogues that “regulate, inform, and build religious entities.” Geertz and Asad’s concepts attempt to define what makes something a religion.
Geertz argued that ritual practice naturalizes a way
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Geertz’s concept of religion defines symbols as a powerful system that establishes the way we respond to and feel about the world. Ifá divination, for example, uses a tray (worldview) as a tool to read people’s destiny and poems describe how one should act (ethos). Beng babies, on the other hand, show a model of who they’re as a person through their ancestors. Symbols help us understand the cosmos of the society. It helps us understand the universe when confronted with bafflement. Then, Asad argues the importance of power and disciplina in religion. Zande divination is a system that illustrates power through rituals, revenge, and oracles. Further, the Kintu story uses moral, social, and ritual ideas that create a constitution of social order. These concepts of religion provide scholars with perspectives from which to study the …show more content…
Their concepts lack sensitivity, ignoring other cultural traditions such as the Komo association and Nyamakala. Each definition emphasizes different aspects, such as experience, institution, and society. These fixed definitions, however, are problematic because they tend to favor a particular tradition. If religion is not defined as only one thing, there’s no good reason to think African religions are one homogeneous group. Lastly, I have indicated African religions in the light of Geertz and Asad’s theories. To some extent, these definitions are too limited in scope. But their attempt to find a better concept of religion reflects on a problematic trial. Geertz and Asad’s theoretical approach obscures the study of a multi-cultural

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