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Unpacking the Museum Register

Institutional Memories of the Potlatch Collection Repatriation

Emma Knight

Society 1975 ; Sanborn 2009 ; Saunders 1995 ; 1997 ; Webster 1988 , 1991 , 1992 , 1995 ). My contribution seeks to place this case within a discussion of administrative repatriation rituals. Terence Turner (1977: 61–62) defines ritual as

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What of Effervescence?

Durkheim in the Cathedral

Simon Coleman

In this article I explore the continued salience of Durkheimian effervescence through an examination of ritual activities contained within contemporary English cathedrals. My argument focuses less on collective occasions of creative or destructive tumult and more on ritualised forms of action where modalities of engagement and participation are nuanced, reflexively negotiated and small-scale. My aim is to render more subtle – and potentially productive – our understandings of gradations in ritual intensity.

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Miriam's Cup

The Story of a New Ritual

Annette M. Boeckler

In recent years the usage of a goblet filled with water called cos miryam (Miriam's cup) during the Passover Seder has increased. This article shows that this custom had its origins in an evening in a Sukkah in Boston, was then soon used regularly at Havdalah ceremonies and finally found its way into the Seder. In recent years this new custom spread throughout Europe. The article depicts this development and also shows the different places and usages documented in published Haggadot of different denominations, and interprets these usages. As the origins and development of this new custom could be researched from its beginnings, this new Jewish ritual of Miriam's cup can serves as an example for the development of rituals in ritual studies in general.

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Sensory Perception of Rock Art in East Siberia and the Far East

Soviet Archeological “Discoveries” and Indigenous Evenkis

Donatas Brandišauskas

nonexistent rituals published by early ethnographers. At the same time, their findings, processes of documentation, and personal perceptions were also shaped by their sensual experiences. Various hardships related to site exploration and the respect shown to

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Recovering Durkheim's 'Second Program of Research'

Roy Rappaport and Jeffrey C. Alexander

Massimo Rosati

Durkheim's 'second program of research' above all refers to his project as developed in Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse. This essay examines how it has in turn been developed and taken up nowadays in the work of Roy Rappaport and Jeffrey Alexander. Both of them are concerned with the centrality of ritual and the sacred as active, constitutive elements not just of religion but of all social life, not least modern social life. However, a key difference between them can be found in the issue of the internal dimension of ritual and of the individual's participation in public performance of this. Rappaport emphasizes some sort of general notion of acceptance, in an effort to open up things and get away from the particular epistemological as well as theological commitments of the idea of belief. Alexander still appears to work with the modernist epistemology and 'Protestant' theology of belief. His project of a new Durkheimian cultural sociology has nonetheless itself opened up all kinds of things, and is one of the most creative and dynamic research programs in sociology nowadays.

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Shamanism in Inner Asia

Two archetypes

T. D. Skrynnikova

The author considers that the term 'shamanism' is inappropriate to designate the phenomenon generally so described. Materials on the shamanism of the peoples of Inner Asia lead to the identification of two separate archetypes, i.e. east-Asian and southwest-Asian. Two traditional cultural codes are discussed - that concerned with the principal 'personages' (the supreme deities), and that with the 'agents' (the performers of the ritual). In the east-Asian archetype, the two principal deities are the Sky and the Earth, and the major socially significant rituals - for example, New Year - are carried out by secular leaders, such as the khan, elders, heads of clans, and others. In the southwest archetype, which developed under the influence of ancient Iranian and Indo-Arian traditions, there was a triad of heavenly beings, of which the major one was the Sun, accompanied by groups of other, lesser deities - those of the 'right' and those of the 'left'. The author concludes that only where the cult of the Sun is observed (later possibly mingled with the Thunder-god) do 'white' shamans perform the sacred functions and rituals.

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The Anthropology of Literature in France

Birth and Becoming of a New Field of Studies

Laurent Sebastian Fournier and Jean-Marie Privat

In this article we present the ongoing theoretical discussions concerning the relations between anthropology and literature in France. We recall the historical relationship of a part of French anthropology and the world of literature. We then try to show how the anthropology of literature began by using the model of the anthropology of art, mainly concentrating on literary works as individual creations specific to the style or the cosmology of a given writer. We explore a new perspective on the analysis of the social and symbolic meanings of literary worlds, putting the emphasis on what is called ‘ethnocriticism’ in France. In order to understand better the influence of literature and literary motives on contemporary cultural practices, and to grasp the relation of literary works with the outside world and with everyday life, we propose to build up a comparative approach of literary works and rituals. Through different novels or other literary works, we address possible developments of contemporary anthropologies of literature in France.

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‘Ashura in Bahrain

Analyses of an Analytical Event

Thomas Fibiger

'Ashura is an annual Shi'i ritual commemorating the death of Imam Husayn at the Battle of Karbala in AD 680. In Bahrain, the ritual runs for two weeks and involves processions with more than 100,000 participants. Bahrain is a small but ethno-sectarian heterogeneous island state, where a Sunni minority dominates a Shi'i majority. The religious ritual of 'Ashura therefore has deep political connotations, and a variety of analyses, aspirations, and actions are played out in the context of the ceremonies. This article discusses 'Ashura from the various viewpoints of participants and observers, thereby raising the question of the relationship between analysis and event. I argue that the ritual itself includes an interpretation of the relationship between the Sunni and Shi'i sects, and that this leads to a variety of reflections among Bahrainis on what 'Ashura is and should be.

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The Tacit Logic of Ritual Embodiments

Rappaport and Polanyi between Thick and Thin

Robert E. Innis

Roy Rappaport’s attempted semiotic schematization of the logic of ritual, relying on analytical tools from C. S. Peirce’s philosophical semiotics, is examined in terms of both its conceptual coherence and its relation to other schematizations of ritual, especially Michael Polanyi’s thematization of a ‘tacit logic’ of meaning-making. The Peircean foregrounding of sign types (icons, indices, symbols) is compared to Polanyi’s delineation of an irreducible from-to structure of consciousness, rooted in the distinction between focal and subsidiary awareness, and to his further distinction between indication and symbolization as ways of relating to and effecting symbolic complexes, such as rituals. One of the startling upshots of this comparison is that the distinctions between ‘thick ritual’ and ‘thin ritual,’ and between art and ritual, become extremely labile. Examples from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Philip Larkin, and Simone Weil illustrate this last point.

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Introduction

The Importance of Rituals in Everyday Life in the Middle East

Zubaydah Ashkanani and Soheila Shahshahani

A culture can be expressed in a succinct way in its rituals, the manifestations of the culmination of its deepest beliefs. Rituals are also attempts to maintain cohesion, which they do most successfully in the material and non-material arts. Knowledge of a culture is necessary in order to portray the totality of that culture through its rituals and ceremonies. As a central topic in anthropology, ritual has been regarded as a phenomenon that is resistant to change and bound to a great extent to certain norms and regulations. Yet it is obvious that rituals are not rigid, unvarying sets of performances and that they have undergone many changes in definitions, functions and interpretations. Indeed, all aspects of culture, including rituals, are subject to change. Drawing on the past, cultures sustain their beliefs by making use of what is at hand in the present.