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The New Mexican's Weekly Magazine of Arts, Entertainment & Culture Friday, July 25, 2014

Grand unified theory: Severin Fowles on Catholic and Pueblo beliefs

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Posted: Friday, May 23, 2014 5:00 am | Updated: 11:30 pm, Thu May 29, 2014.

Catholic religion is a matter of choice, while Pueblo religion is a matter of being Pueblo.” Does this statement, from Severin Fowles’ book An Archaeology of Doings: Secularism and the Study of Pueblo Religion (SAR Press), help us understand how both belief systems can coexist on the pueblos? Ever since the 1950s, most anthropologists have neutralized the conflict between the two via the concept of compartmentalization: keeping the Christian practice “cordoned off from traditional kiva doings, to which the Pueblos are clearly still committed,” as Fowles writes. “That’s one way out of the paradox, to say that perhaps they are not both religions,” he told Pasatiempo. “Perhaps it’s apples and oranges.”

There are many ways in which the Native and imported systems may differ significantly. “The language of religion implies something quite specific within the Western tradition, and I began to worry that we [anthropologists] were imposing a great deal upon other people,” said Fowles, explaining his motivation for writing An Archaeology of Doings. The School for Advanced Research presents Fowles, an assistant professor of archaeology at Barnard College, in a Thursday, May 29, lecture at the New Mexico History Museum.

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