Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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(1923-) Professor of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania.

A leading figure in the study of culture and personality as well as the anthropology of religion, Wallace conducted fieldwork among the Tuscarora, Iroquois, and Seneca Indians of New York and also in a Pennsylvania mental hospital. He first introduced the concept of mazeway to refer to cognitive maps. This concept was further elaborated in his discussions of religion, social change, and revitalization movements.

Wallace's text Religion: An Anthropological View (Random House 1966) has become a classic overview of the field. Religion, he contended, is "a set of rituals, rationalized by myth, which mobilizes supernatural powers for the purpose of achieving or preventing transformation of state in man and nature." He also argued—somewhat less effectively—that religious specialists (like shamans) tend to be highly neurotic individuals and that religious orientations are intimately connected with the cure of identity disorders.

Stephen D. Glazier


A. F. C. Wallace, "Revitalization Movements," American Anthropologist 59(1956):264-281

A. F. C. Wallace, Culture and Personality (New York: Random House, 1970a)

A. F. C. Wallace, Death and Rebirth of the Seneca (New York: Knopf, 1970b).

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