Introducing the Head of Global Anthropology of Religion!

As part of our commitment to bringing you the latest social-scientific research on religion, GCRR is proud to introduce the Head of our "Global Anthropology of Religion" division, Dr. Jack David Eller.


Dr. Eller holds a PhD in anthropology and has conducted fieldwork on religion and religious change among Australian Aboriginals. His other areas of interest include ethnic and religious violence, and he is the author of several books on cultural anthropology, anthropology of religion, psychological anthropology, and atheism/secularism. In fact, Dr. Eller's extensive list of peer-reviewed publications have been cited some 1,600 times since 1994, making him one of the most influential academics in his field of study.


We highly recommend checking out two of his most important textbooks:


This clear and engaging guide introduces students to key areas of the field and shows how to apply an anthropological approach to the study of religion in the contemporary world. Written by an experienced teacher, it covers major traditional topics including definitions, theories and beliefs as well as symbols, myth and ritual. The book also explores important but often overlooked issues such as morality, violence, fundamentalism, secularization, and new religious movements. The chapters all contain lively case studies of religions practiced around the world.

The second edition of the book contains updated theoretical discussion plus fresh ethnographic examples throughout. In addition to a brand new chapter on vernacular religion, Dr. Eller provides a significantly revised chapter on the emerging anthropologies of Christianity and Islam. The book features more material on contemporary societies as well as new coverage of topics such as pilgrimage and paganism. Images, a glossary and questions for discussion are now included and additional resources are provided via a companion website.


This illuminating, in-depth study presents a wealth of case material, demonstrating the many manifestations of religious violence-not just war and terrorism, which are the focus of so many discussions of religiously motivated violence-but also more prevalent forms. Dr. Eller devotes separate chapters to:

  • sacrifice (both animal and human);

  • self-mortification (including self-injury, asceticism, and martyrdom);

  • religious persecution (from anti-Semitic pogroms to witchhunts);

  • ethno-religious conflict (including such hotspots as Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland, and the former Yugoslavia);

  • religious wars (from the ancient Hebrews' wars and the Christian Crusades to Islamic jihad and Hindu righteous wars);

  • and religious homicide and abuse (spousal abuse, genital mutilation, and "dowry death," among other manifestations).

In the final chapter, "Religion and Nonviolence," Dr. Eller examines nonviolent and low-conflict societies and considers various methods of managing conflict. This book goes a long way toward helping us understand the nature of violence generally, its complicated connections with religion, and how society in the future might avoid being blindsided by the worst aspects of human nature.

Partner with Dr. Eller

If you are, or someone you know is, an anthropologist and would like to partner with Dr. Eller in conducting research into the anthropology of religion, send him a message: info@gcrr.org

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