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date: 25 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides an overview of anthropological research on the ways in which religions both construct and constrain gender and sexuality. Using examples drawn from a wide range of cultures, we divide our overview into three main sections, dealing with issues of ‘discipline’, ‘reproduction’, and ‘protest and change’ respectively. We therefore show how these themes raise questions relating to reinforcement or challenges to social and political systems, as well as to biological necessity. We explore reasons why gender and sexuality may be both linked and distinguished from each other. Some reflections on the role of gender in the writing of ethnographic texts are also provided, alongside considerations of the complementary roles of anthropology and theology in analysing gender and sexuality.

Keywords: anthropology, celibacy, feminist, gender, marriage, polygamy, reproduction, sexuality, virgin

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