Some equate religion with good deeds, what our book calls social activism and engagement. This is political work in the sense that there are power dynamics involved in how people engage with one another. Swasti Bhattacharyya uses ethnography to help us think through ways that this has been done.

Before you begin, I’d like you to define the term “ethnography.” Cite and consult a dictionary, writing the information in your notebook.

Then I’d like you to take notes on the four names below.

  • Karl Marx
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Malcolm X
  • Vinoba Bhave

I don’t need anything to in-depth. Have fun with this. Jot down basic information like baseball card stats. Draw a comic strip. Do something that helps you hone in on who they are and what they are about.

After reading and doing the above, I’d like you to answer the following question:

Bhattacharyya counterposes Karl Marx’s understanding of religion and society (p.115-116) with the examples of MLK, Malcolm, and Bhave. Does this adequately critique Marx or does her analysis leave something to be desired? Briefly share your thoughts?

In class we will make a Venn diagram of the figures and their biographies using “religion and society” as an analytical fulcrum. So be ready to contribute to this. (Look up what a fulcrum is, and make sure you’re familiar enough to help us populate our Venn diagram.)