The REL Journal Group: Health or Perceived Health Benefits

The following exchange between Prof. Russell McCutcheon and Sierra Lawson, a graduate student in our MA program, reflects on the recent meeting of REL’s monthly journal reading group, part of our Religion in Culture MA.

Russell: Sierra, in your undergrad here at UA you did a double major in Anthropology and Religious Studies, and I know that you have an interest in medical anthropology. So presumably that helped direct your choice of this article for our journal group (written by our UA colleague, Jason DeCaro, a faculty member here in the Department of Anthropology) and one of their recent doctoral grads, Becky Read-Wahidi)?

Sierra: Yes! I attended the University of Alabama, starting in the Fall of 2014, under the assumption that I would study biological/physical anthropology. While this has morphed a great deal, leading to my current interests, the issue of health and wel-lbeing has consistently been of interest to me. So this article seemed to be a good fit for the reading group because it dealt with religious behavior — but not from a traditional Religious Studies point of view. This is what I thought made it an accessible example for our Department to wrestle with broader issues regarding how something called ‘religion’ is conceived and studied by other departments in their research.

RM: During the discussion I recall a few times when disciplinary issues were on the table, such as people asking you some questions about how Anthropology might understand this or that topic or use this or that method — so, are there points of overlap between the two fields that you now see, or maybe points of divergence that catch your attention?


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