Anthropological Perspectives

Written Activity #6: Truth, Religion, & Public Spectacle

This assignment echoes our discussion last week with Dr. S, i.e. what are the limits of relativism, and how does one reconcile multiple conflicting ideologies.  This week’s readings engage the group “Answers in Genesis” and their museums/”theme parks” designed to influence worldviews.  However, the case studies also give us some insights into how one can use symbols and edutainment to “educate” audiences in topics of import.  That is, we can learn strategies and think about how one engages in the public sphere. 

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Objective: To think about the holistic approach using science, emergent controversies, and belief as a springboard; to examine strategies for engaging the “public”; and to understand the importance of bringing anthropological perspectives and methods outside of the academy
Outcome: A discussion of strategies employed to sway public ideologies and elicidating the ethics, benefits, and pitfalls of bringing an anthropological approach to wider publics and debates.

First, read the following:
1. King (2016) There’s No Controversy Actions
2. Lukas (2018) A Tour of the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum Actions
3. Bielo (2018) Ark Encounter Ch. 1 Actions

In one post of AT LEAST 750 words, answer the following questions based upon THIS WEEK’S readings ( Farmer (1996 ) On Suffering & Structural Violence Actions .  BOOK: Fuentes (2012) Chapter 5 “Aggression” (pp. 114-155) – Conclusion, pp. 207-221.)  And if you can use Fuente’s “Myth Busting” tools to help you, DO IT! :

1. Based upon the readings, what makes the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter successful as vehicles of edutainment?  Discuss three specific elements and analyze.
2. According to Bielo (2018), how are the AiG creators thinking about their audience, their strategy for public engagement, and their ultimate goals ideologies?  That is, how are they using symbols, story, emotion, and character to get their point of view across?
3. How does Bielo (2018) construct the narrative in his book?  That is, what are his own “hooks,”  narrative through lines, “characters,” & rhetorical and poetic devices?  Analyze this using specific examples from the chapters under consideration.
4. Can you reconcile this week’s case studies with our discussion, readings, and write-up from Week 6 Warfare, Power, and the War on Science and Dr. Sidkey’s presentation?  What are the potentials and limits of cultural relativism here?


The standard Activities Rubric will be used to grade this exercise.
1. Anthropological Perspectives (4) Exhibits awareness and understanding of ethnocentrism, cultural relativity, contexts, and power in all activities;
2. Course Concepts (4) Directly and appropriately utilizes course terminology in all writing and activities;
3. Examples (4) Describes and utilizes appropriate examples from course materials (readings, films, individual fieldwork, media sources);
4. Follows Instructions (4)  Is this a compare/contrast discussion?  Did you find outside sources if required?  Were you supposed to upload an image?  Follow the directions!!  And put in some effort;
5. Writing, Style, Organization (4)  Writing is always important.  The writing can be indicative of your effort (see #4 above).

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