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"I Feel Older"

Investigating the Impact of a Father and Son

William John Jennings

This article reports on the impact of a school based father and son, “rites of passage” program on its participants in two Australian Catholic boys’ schools. The author conducted a mixed methodology study investigating quantitative differences between 15- to 17-year-old adolescent participants and non-participants in how they rated their “father relationships” and the impact that specific program elements (the “rite of passage,” planned conversations, and public acknowledgements) had on both program participants. The research found evidence to support the program’s positive impact on father-son relationships. As a result of planned conversations with their fathers in the program, participants reported feeling “older” and more mature.

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The Rite Journey

Rediscovering Rites of Passage for Boys

Andrew Lines and Graham Gallasch

The Rite Journey is a program to allow Australian Year-9 male students age 14-15 years to share a year-long partnership with a teacher-guide as the boy explores what it means to become a respectful and responsible man. Given the current view that rites of passage need to be rediscovered for young people in Western culture, a feature of the program is specially created ceremonies held throughout the year. These celebration points follow the seven steps of a hero’s journey. Curricular content is based on four topics: relationships with self, others, the divine and the world. This paper recounts the program’s background and form and includes feedback of boys who have participated in the program.

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Helle Bundgaard and Cecilie Rubow

This article discusses the teaching of anthropological fieldwork during a period of comprehensive educational reforms in Danish universities. We trace widely held conceptions of fieldwork among master’s students of anthropology and the efforts they make to live up to what they assume to be classic fieldwork. We argue that the ideals of classic fieldwork too often fail to support the learning process when fieldwork is squeezed into the timeframe of the curriculum and show how fieldwork as part of an educational programme can be mentored by online feedback. Our suggestion is that cooperative reflection during fieldwork can improve the quality of the empirical material and the analytical process significantly.

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A Bar Mitzvah Year

Rethinking Ritual

Ilana Korber

This article describes the journey of the author’s secular Jewish family as they grappled with how to celebrate their sons’ bar mitzvahs. It is a personal reflection, based on diary entries kept throughout the period of planning a Jewish rite of passage; creating new rituals outside of the conventional religious practice marking a boy’s transition to manhood. This process led the author to consider both what it means to be a secular Jew as well as alternative ways to celebrate Jewish culture.

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The Conceptual and Anthropological History of Bat Mitzvah

Two Lexical Paths and Two Jewish Identities

Hizky Shoham

This article aims to form a conversation between conceptual history and anthropological history, taking bat mitzvah, the coming-of-age ceremony for Jewish girls, as a test case. The term is shown to have two main conceptual meanings: first, the new religious status that a Jewish girl acquires—that of an adult obligated by the precepts of Jewish law—and second, the event or ritual marking this milestone. The close examination of the concept’s various meanings in different Jewish languages tracks its development from its hesitant beginnings in the nineteenth century to its emergence as a key concept that refers to a central ceremony in the Jewish world of the twentieth century. From that point, the article follows the two lexical paths that bat mitzvah has traveled, in the United States and in Israel, and highlights a basic anthropological difference in the ceremony’s social function.

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Coming of Age as a Villain

What Every Boy Needs to Know in a Misandric World

Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young

Once upon a time, coming of age as a man was simple to define. Not necessarily simple to achieve, but simple to define. A man was a male adult—someone whom other male adults had certified in a ritual context, a rite of passage, as qualified to take on responsibilities not only for his own family but also for the larger community or nation.

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Liminality and Missing Persons

Encountering the Missing in Postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina

Laura Huttunen

In many armed conflicts, forced disappearances and hiding the bodies of victims of mass atrocities are used strategically. This article argues that disappearances are powerful weapons, as their consequences reach from the most intimate relations to the formation of political communities. Consequently, political projects of forced disappearances leave difficult legacies for post-conflict reconciliation, and they give rise to a need to address individuals’ and families’ needs as well as relations between national and political groups implicated in the conflict. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this articles explores the question of missing persons in post-1992 Bosnia. The processes of identification and practices of remembering and commemorating the missing are analyzed through the concept of liminality. The article argues that the future-oriented temporality of liminality gives rise to numerous practices of encountering the enigma of the missing, while the political atmosphere of postwar Bosnia restricts possibilities of communitas-type relationality across ethnonational differences.

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Karine Michel

Among religious Jews, hair is described as an application of religious law. This article proposes to study the place of hair in Jewish life, based on texts and social expressions. Hair appears to be linked to every important and ritual moment of life, symbolising the movement from one social status to another as a rite of passage. However, based on age and sex, and also on an analysis of different religious tendencies, hair reveals itself as more relevant in terms of social than religious use.

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Coming of Age with Proctor & Gamble

Beinggirl.com and the Commodification of Puberty

Sharon R. Mazzarella

Puberty and her first period are among the most important rites of passage in a girl's life. Cashing in on this, transnational corporate giant Proctor & Gamble created the website beinggirl.com in 2000, to provide “a forum for girls to explore their collective interests and receive guidance in choosing the right feminine protection products provided by Tampax and Always at the very start of their cycles.” Featuring podcasts, polls, quizzes, an advice column, games, downloads, and a discussion board, beinggirl.com looks like many other commercially-created online spaces for girls. Employing an “experiential analysis” methodology, this article deconstructs beinggirl.com as a site that has both a corporate imperative as well as the self-proclaimed intention of providing a space for girls.

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Katherine Nielsen and Eli Thorkelson

Ethnographers have constructed contradicting assertions, and indeed assumptions,

about the nature of learning, how it is best accomplished, and

how students internalise this learning in order to form both individualised

and collective identities. Are the rites of passage, so often described in analyses

of postgraduate socialisation – the oral examinations, the viva voce, the

departmental seminar, or graduation ceremony – the only routes available

for understanding how anthropological culture is inculcated into students?

Is the role of the supervisor as mentor pivotal in the successful completion

of a Ph.D? Or is this more of a master/apprentice relationship? Does this

proc ess maintain its relevance in a globalised field and with instant virtual

access to experts from other institutions anywhere in the world? Such issues

have been of interest to both students and faculty within the anthropology

discipline, in particular, and the social sciences more generally.