The city is a key location of the modern social world, a home of rootlessness and transient everyday encounters between individuals. This essay explores the idea of 'the sanctuary' as a way in which people look for anchorage, and create and re-create images of a society, to cope with and negotiate life in the city. It mainly draws on Durkheim's work on ritual, symbolism and the sacred, together with his account of individual and collective representations. But it also discusses these concerns though other writers, notably Freud and Ricœur, and it draws on Kant's theory of art to introduce how Durkheim sees ritual -especially sacred drama - as at once a symbolism and an aesthetics, complete with the energies of a free creative 'surplus'. Even if in the end 'the sanctuary' is unequal to the marketplace, it is a necessary refuge of the transformative social imagination and a realm, not of everyday economics, but of civitas.
A Practical Experiment for Thinking about Ritual
This essay reports on the performance of an initiatory rite of the author’s invention, undertaken as a practical experiment for thinking about certain recurrent features of ritual action and, specifically, of (male) initiation. In keeping with an approach that sees ritual as the enactment of special relationships, this initiation, The Red and the Black, was designed to demonstrate the importance of interactive patterning both for the structuring of ritual performance and for the participants’ commitment to the relationships they ritually enact. Its meaningfulness, as well as its capacity to affect the participants’ perceptions and ideas, is shown to derive less from the (minimal) explicit symbolism it employs, the beliefs it presupposes, or the social functions that can be attributed to it than from the relational entailments of the coordinate interactions it involves. Framing, simulation, secrecy, imposed suffering, symbolism, ceremonial efficacy, ritual condensation, and the complex interplay of in-group and out-group perspectives are among the issues that are illustrated and discussed.
An Analysis of Approaches
The contemporary preoccupation with the headscarf and the new veiling shows us the importance of symbolic messages of hair behaviour not only in Western but also in Muslim societies. This article gives a survey of different methodological approaches to hair, namely the anthropological hair debate of the 1950s, studies on new Islamic dress, regional and culture-specific anthropological research on hair symbolism and hair sacrifice. Hair is either treated in the context of religious texts (Qur’an, Hadiths), Islamic institutional concepts of the sexual body (purity rules) or in the context of sacrifice revealing religious concepts of an asexual human body. It is shown that the contradictory statements of these diverse theoretical approaches are the result of a cleavage that can be traced throughout the literature and also accounts for the polyvalent meanings of the symbol of hair. Hair can be viewed in the context of individual versus society but also in the context of individual versus God. Therefore, the analysis of hair behaviour in Islamic societies has to combine both relations to understand the seemingly exotic behaviour of ‘the other’.
Religious Rituals and Embodied Spirituality among the Bahraini Shi‘a
This article analyses the relationship between the seen and the unseen in the cosmology and practices of Bahraini Shi'a. Rather than contrasting the visible and the invisible, the study delineates the hierarchical relations between them, within a whole or cosmology, as reflected in various discursive and non-discursive actions that are supported by the religious beliefs of Bahraini Shi'a. Issues of the Hidden Imam, concealment, dissimulation and other unseen dimensions of the cosmos are discussed. The article finds that the Shi'a construct the invisible in their social world by using visible ways of creatively enacting their hidden thoughts and beliefs, as represented in their religious discourses, rituals and body symbolism. Their belief in a divine higher power provides a source of emotional, spiritual and socio-political empowerment.
Where Did It Go?
This article attempts to put forward new perspectives on solidarity in Durkheim's work, useful for an understanding of contemporary reality. First, it sketches why his modern 'cult of man' should be understood as an instance of mechanical solidarity, and discusses how to generalize this scenario and move beyond the idea of the 'cult of man' as mechanical solidarity's sole modern instance. Next, it investigates some of the shortcomings of Durkheim's diagnosis of modernity itself. This is in an effort to show how these shortcomings – reflected in his critique of the modern economy, his interactionism, his focus on the whole and his insensitivity to the ephemeral and aesthetic – led Durkheim to overlook the persistence of mechanical solidarity in the modern world and hindered him from developing the explanatory potential of his sociology of religion in a modern context. The article then explores the dynamic, decentred, 'individualized' and mediated nature of contemporary forms of collective formation by selectively extrapolating from the relation in Durkheim's work between the individual and the social. Finally, in returning to the question of mechanical solidarity in modern society, it outlines the contours of a concept of collective consciousness applicable to a modern setting.
A Critical Assessment
Recent cognitive and evolutionary approaches to the study of religion have been seen by many as a naturalistic alternative to conventional anthropological interpretations. Whereas anthropologists have traditionally accounted for the existence of religion in terms of social and cultural determinants, cognitive scientists have emphasized the innate—that is pre-cultural—constraints placed by natural selection on the formation and acquisition of religious ideas. This article provides a critical assessment of the main theoretical proposals put forward by cognitive scientists and suggests possible interactions, perhaps interdependencies, with more standard anthropological sensibilities, especially between cognitive and evolutionary perspectives that see religion as a by-product of innate psychological dispositions and anthropological approaches that take the 'meaningful' nature of religious symbols as their point of departure.
Based on fieldwork in Zabaikal'e, this report describes Orochen hunters' and reindeer herders' uses and interpretations of fire. Ethnographic evidence presents a wide use of fire and smoke in daily life in the taiga. Fire and smoke play a crucial role in reindeer herding and hunting of ungulates and fur animals. The author argues that fire symbols are an important part of Orochen cosmology and relate to broader themes of hunting magic, mastery, and the perception of animals. Research into the cosmological knowledge of fire uses provides us with a broader scope of interpretation of camping characteristics and land use.
Ideology and Representation in the Zen Garden
Allen S. Weiss
It is impossible to separate the semiological from the mytho- logical, the poetic from the historical, the aesthetic from the ideo- logical. Since, as the phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty insisted, any entity can be taken as an emblem of Being, one must be attentive to the symbolic power and semiotic valences of every word, object, and image. This article is an attempt to sketch out the role of the rock in Zen-inspired Japanese gardens and, consequently, to offer a new inter- pretation of one of the most famous gardens in the world, Ryōan-ji.
Martyrdom and Memorials in Post–Civil War Lebanon
Are John Knudsen
narratives. The architectural symbolism of memorials is featured in the works of Ward Vloeberghs (2008 , 2012a , 2012b ) who has analysed the intersection between memorials and martyrdom in the construction of the Mohammad al-Amin mosque in downtown Beirut
A pedagogical guide to the confederate flag in post-race America
Cameron D. Lippard
particular discourse. Second, I present the ways in which I prime students through an interactive group and class activity on flag symbolism. Third, I deconstruct and do some ‘myth-busting’ on the socially constructed history of the confederate flag through a