Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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(1905-1960) Harvard anthropologist who argued that religion and myth are central to human existence and suggested that tool making, language, and religion are the three major characteristics that serve to distinguish humans from all other animals. Kluckhohn's often reprinted essay, "Myths and Rituals: A General Theory" (1942), underscored the importance of context in the study of myth and ritual. Myths and rituals, he contended, will be differently phrased in different societies according to their unique historical experiences. Kluckhohn also stressed the adjustive and integrative functions of religious practices. His classic Navaho Witchcraft (Beacon 1944) focused on the implicit function of witchcraft among the Navaho and described the relationship between witchcraft and other aspects of Navaho culture and society. The increase and decrease of witchcraft accusations, he found, relate to Navaho religion and worldview.

Stephen D. Glazier


C. Kluckhohn, "Myth and Rituals," Harvard Theological Review 35(1942):48-79.

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