At the Mountains’ Altar : Anthropology of Religion in an Andean Community book cover
1st Edition

At the Mountains’ Altar
Anthropology of Religion in an Andean Community

ISBN 9781138037502
Published December 12, 2017 by Routledge
252 Pages

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Book Description

In high-Andean Peru, Rapaz village maintains a temple to mountain beings who command water and weather. By examining the ritual practices and belief systems of an Andean community, this book provides students with rich understandings of unfamiliar religious experiences and delivers theories of religion from the realm of abstraction. From core field encounters, each chapter guides readers outward in a different theoretical direction, successively exploring the main paths in the anthropology of religion.

As well as addressing classical approaches in the anthropology of religion to rural modernity, Salomon engages with newer currents such as cognitive-evolution models, power-oriented critiques, the ontological reworking of relativism, and the "new materialism" in the context of a deep-rooted Andean ethos. He reflects on central questions such as: Why does sacred ritualism seem almost universal? Is it seated in social power, human psychology, symbolic meanings, or cultural logics? Are varied theories compatible? Is "religion" still a tenable category in the post-colonial world?

At the Mountains’ Altar is a valuable resource for students taking courses on the anthropology of religion, Andean cultures, Latin American ethnography, religious studies, and indigenous peoples of the Americas.

Table of Contents


1. A single nest (and some theories about cognitive-evolutionary foundations of religiosity)

2. A little palace of analogies (and a revised structuralist view of cultural fundamentals)

3. Children of the mummy Libiac Cancharco (and ideas about the sacralization of society)

4. Songs for herds and crops (and thoughts about religious experience) with Luis Andrade Ciudad

5. Mending their sacred things (and thinking about religion as symbolism, science, or power)

6. A temple by night (and religions as other ontologies)

7. The ground trembles (closing thoughts on secularity and the "material turn")

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Frank Salomon is the John V. Murra Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, USA, and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Iowa, USA.


"At the Mountains’ Altar will be a vital resource for undergraduate and postgraduate modules on the
anthropology of religion, whether or not there is a focus on Christianity and/or the Andes. It will also be invaluable in the teaching of fieldwork methods[...]the book has a wider reach than the classroom. It is a book to be enjoyed for the author’s keen insights into what he calls religiosity, and how his responses to his reading of an intriguing range of authors can be used to illuminate a phenomenon that cannot be satisfactorily defined yet still has the power to demand our attention."

Penelope Dransart, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, BioOne Complete