Embodiment as a Paradigm for Anthropology

  • Thomas J. Csordas
Part of the Contemporary Anthropology of Religion book series (CAR)


The purpose of this chapter is not to argue that the human body is an important object of anthropological study, but that a paradigm of embodiment can be elaborated for the study of culture and self. By paradigm I mean simply a consistent methodological perspective that encourages reanalysis of existing data and suggests new questions for empirical research. Although I shall argue that a paradigm of embodiment transcends different methodologies, I will not attempt to synthesize the broad multi-disciplinary literature on the body1 The approach I will develop from the perspective of psychological anthropology leans strongly in the direction of phenomenology. This approach to embodiment begins from the methodological postulate that the body is not an object to be studied in relation to culture, but is to be considered as the subject of culture, or in other words as the existential ground of culture.


Religious Experience Cultural Object Ritual Practice Evil Spirit Divine Power 
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© Thomas J. Csordas 2002

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  • Thomas J. Csordas

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