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Two Views on Religion and Ritual: Talal Asad & Robert H. Sharf.

18081. Two Views on Religion and Ritual: Talal Asad & Robert H. Sharf.

This paper compares the views of Talal Asad ("The Construction of Religion as an Anthropological Category") and Robert H. Sharf ("Ritual"), and the efforts of the two writers to arrive at non-"universalist" definitions of religion and/or ritual. Asad writes from a Western perspective and is concerned with the role of power in religion; Sharf looks at ritual from an Eastern (Buddhist) perspective and uses "performative theory," which metaphorically equates ritual to music or childhood play. It is argued that Asad is overly theoretical and that Sharf does a better job of explaining ritual performance and the practical benefits of ritual experience. KEYWORDS: comparative analysis essay religion ritual buddhism. MLA Style. 10 pages, 19 footnotes, 2 bibliographic sources.

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