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Assignment Questions

Deadline extended to Wednesday, 2 May 2018, 5 p.m. Absolutely no extensions possible. 2

May is the deadline which means if you have other commitments closer to the date, you need
to submit before the deadline.

This essay is worth 60% of the total assessment.

Please email me a soft copy (MSWord only, no pdfs or other formats) of your essay by this
date. Name your file in this way: ‘Your first name [space] last name_final essay’ e.g. if I were
submitting this essay, my file would be named, Tuhina Ganguly_final essay

Please read carefully other notes and instructions at the end of this document, especially those
regarding plagiarism.

Word limit 1,200 words excluding bibliography. Please do not exceed the word limit.

Choose one of the following questions:

Q1. Spirituality is often thought to be an individual quest outside of institutions and

organizations. Do you agree? Discuss with reference to Bender, using suitable examples.

Suggested readings:

Bender – Intro to New Metaphysicals (inbox)

Bender – Religion and Spirituality http://religion.ssrc.org/reforum/Bender.pdf.
Roof – Religion and Spirituality: Toward an Integrated Analysis (see Blackboard)
Examples: Heehs – Sri Aurobindo Ashram (Blackboard)
Or any example of your choice

Q2. Can the spiritual quest be thought of as an antimodern quest for fullness? Answer with
relevant examples.

Suggested readings:

Versluis – Antimodernism
Taylor – see two readings by Taylor on Blackboard
https://tif.ssrc.org/2008/01/14/framing-the-middle/Do explore this blog for other posts on
Taylor's notion of fullness
This might be helpful too:
Examples: You could use Thoreau (Walden)
Or, again, any other example you think works best

Q3. Do you agree with Pollock et al (2000) that there can be multiple cosmopolitanisms? If so,
can we think of non-Western spiritual communities and/or philosophies as espousing a
cosmopolitan ideal? Use examples to substantiate your argument.
Suggested readings:

Pollock et al - ‘Cosmopolitanisms’ : see Blackboard

Turner, Bryan S. 2010. “Reflexive Traditionalism and Emergent Cosmopolitanism: Some
Reflections on the Religious Imagination” Soziale Welt 61, p. 313-318.

Examples could be:

Youngblood – Varkaris (Blackboard)
Abdullah – The Mouride Brotherhood (Blackboard)
Taoism/Zen Buddhism
Or any other of your choice
(One or more of these)

Q4. Cosmopolitanism is more than just globalization. Discuss this statement with reference to
communitas (whether realized or not) in case of transnational spiritual communities.

Suggested Readings:

Pollock et al – ‘Cosmopolitanisms’: see Blackboard

Olaveson – Communitas and Collective effervescence: see Blackboard
Turner, Victor W. 1969, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure, Aldine Publishing:
Chicago, ‘Liminality and Communitas’, pp. 94-113 (Blackboard)
Palmer and Siegler – Dream Trippers (Inbox)
Again, feel free to use any example of your choice

Q5. Does the popularity of Zen Buddhism among elite non-Japanese Brazilians represent the
quest for an Anglo and Euro-centric cosmopolitan modernity, or does the transposition of Zen
Buddhism to Brazil allow us to think of multiple modernities?

Suggested Readings:

Pollock et al – ‘Cosmopolitanisms’: see Blackboard

Eisenstadt – Multiple modernities: see Blackboard
Rocha – Zen in Brazil (inbox)
De Albuquerque, Eduardo Basto. 2008. “Intellectuals and Japanese Buddhism in Brazil.”
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 35 (1), 61–79.

Q6. Does contemporary spiritual seeking represent cultural consumption? Discuss with

Suggested Readings:
Jameson – Postmodernism (Blackboard)
Possamai – Alternative spiritualities (Blackboard)
Mulcock – Creativity and Politics (Blackboard)
Graeber – Consumption (Blackboard)
Any example(s) of your choice

Q7. Do spiritual or religious commodities offer the scope for enchantment? Does this lead us
to rethink the critique of consumption in the context of the religious/spiritual?

Suggested Readings:

Appadurai – Social life of things (Inbox: link)

Sinha – Religion and Commodification (Inbox)
Graeber – Consumption
Srinivas – Doubtful illusions (inbox)

Q8. Does the production of magical objects challenge the logic of capitalist consumption?

Suggested Readings:

Babb, Lawrence A. 1983. “Sathya Sai Baba's Magic.” Anthropological Quarterl 56 (3), 116–
124. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3317305?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
Srinivas – Doubtful illusions (inbox)

Notes and instructions:

1. Use at least one academic source in your essay (peer reviewed journal article, academic
book or academic book chapter – university press publication or Routledge, Taylor and Francis
publications). Magazine and newspaper articles are not academic sources but may be used in
addition to at least one academic text.

2. Cite your sources, using a reference style consistently in your essay. You may follow the
Chicago reference style (author-date; not notes and bibliography) or APA. Do not plagiarise.
Use in-text citation, and write reference list at the end of the essay.

3. Do not copy paste stuff from the internet. This is not acceptable. First, internet sources
(Wikipedia, blogs, discussion forums like Quora etc.,) are not academic sources. Second, if
you come across a good blog article or online news article that you think might be very relevant
to your essay and you really want to use it, then ensure that you cite it properly according to
whichever reference style you are following.

4. Whether you use quotes from academic texts or elsewhere, even with proper citation, these
should not form the bulk of your essay. Most of the essay should be in your words. This can
include paraphrasing, but do not go overboard with direct quotes.
Plagiarism, whether from the internet or from academic/non-
academic texts, will lead to an automatic F grade.

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