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1 Lecture 7 Introduction to Ritual. 2 What is ritual, why is it important Lecture structure Definitions: biological, psychological, functional, expressive/

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Presentation on theme: "1 Lecture 7 Introduction to Ritual. 2 What is ritual, why is it important Lecture structure Definitions: biological, psychological, functional, expressive/"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Lecture 7 Introduction to Ritual

2 2 What is ritual, why is it important Lecture structure Definitions: biological, psychological, functional, expressive/ communicative. Theories: Durkheim, Turner. Examples: funerals. Next lecture (first week of new term); Rites de passage?

3 3 Ritual Al Jazeera's Teresa Bo attends the Tinku festival in Bolivia, where thousands of indigenous people gather for a ritual that involves fighting until blood is spilt on the ground. The blood is thought to guarantee a good harvest. Budhist healing ritual dhapi' initiation ceremony for a Djinba boy in north-central Arnhem Land. Djinang-, Djinba- and Burarra-speaking clanspeople participated in this ceremony, which reached its conclusion on the final day with the circumcision of the young boy (Dhuwa moiety). Powerful scene of men enacting shark, after the circumcision of the boy. Actual 'cutting' scene is not shown, nor other sensitive or restricted material.

4 4 Videos of state, secular and healing rituals Graduation mb=0&aq=f#q=graduation+ceremony+&hl=en&emb=0 mb=0&aq=f#q=graduation+ceremony+&hl=en&emb=0 Coronation Openning of Parliament Blackrod =related&search= =related&search Haka mb=0&aq=f# mb=0&aq=f# Christening

5 5 Roy Rappaport. Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity. 1999 Cambridge University Press. p.24 “I take the term “ritual” to denote the performance of more or less invariant sequences of formal acts and utterances not entirely encoded by the performers…. First this definition encompasses much more than religious behaviour. Psychiatrists, for instance, have used “ritual” rather similarly conceived, or the closely related if not synonymous term “ceremony”, to refer both to the pathological stereotyped behaviours of some neurotics (Freud 1907) and to certain conventional, repetitive but nevertheless adaptive interactions between people (Erikson 1966:337). In sociology and anthropology “ritual” and “ceremony” many designate a large range of social events, not all of which are religious, or may denote the formal aspects of such events …and application of the term has not been restricted to human phenomena. ”

6 6 Victor Turner A Forest of Symbols Cornell University Press 1967 p.19 “By “ritual” I mean prescribed formal behaviour for occasions not given over to technological routine, having reference to beliefs in mystical beings or powers. The symbol is the smallest unit of ritual which still retains the specific properties of ritual behaviour; it is the ultimate unit of specific structure in a ritual context. A “symbol” is a thing regarded by general consent as naturally typifying or representing or recalling something by possession of analogous qualities or by association in fact or thought.”

7 7 Durkheim: sacred and profane “Durkheim defines religion in terms of a distinction between the sacred and the profane. Sacred object and symbols, he holds, are treated as apart from the routine aspects of existence – the realm of the profane. What is the origin of the sacred? According to Durkheim totems or other sacred objects are the symbol of the group itself; it stands for the values central to the group or community. The reverence which people feel for the totem actually derives from the respect they hold for central social values. In religion, the object of worship is actually society itself.

8 8 Durkheim: sacred and profane Durkheim strongly emphasizes the fact that religions are never just a matter of belief. All religions involve regular ceremonial and ritual activities, in what a group of believers meets together. In collective ceremonials, a sense of group solidarity is affirmed and heightened. Ceremonials take individual away from the concerns of profane social life into an elevated sphere, in which they feel in contact with higher forces. These higher forces attributed to totems, divine influences or gods, are really the expression of the influence of the collectivity over the individual. [c.f. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life] epolice/images/Im11-L.jpg

9 9 Durkheim cont. Ceremony or ritual is Durkheim’s view are essential to bind members of groups together. This is why they are found not only in regular situations of worship but in the various life crises at which major social transitions are experienced, for example birth, marriage and death. In virtually all societies, ritual and ceremonial procedures are observed at such gatherings. Durkheim reasons that collective ceremonials reaffirm group solidarity at a time when people are forced to adapt to major changes in their lives. Funeral rituals demonstrate that the values of the group outlive the passing of particular individuals, and so provide a means for bereaved people to adjust to their altered circumstances. Mourning is not the spontaneous expression of grief – or, at least, it is only so for those personally affected by the death. Mourning is a duty imposed by the group.” Anthony Giddens Sociology Polity 1989 p.459

10 10 Expressive function of ritual “Life always throws up threat to ontological security – suffering and misery, calamities and disasters, the inhuman actions of some of our fellow beings and so on – that are hard to explain. From this perspective, non-scientific knowledge and beliefs are necessary to help us make sense of such senseless features of our lives. They do this in two ways: –they give us explanations that help us cope; and –they offer us ways of behaving that allow us to express our desire for meaning and order in our world.

11 11 Expressive function of ritual Symbolic anthropology argues that ritual, for example, should be seen as a kind of language, allowing those who engage in it to symbolise their feelings about the world – it enables them to articulate, through action, the way they would like the world to be. Therefore, even if a rite seems to be aimed at a particular goal, and even if its participants describe this as its purpose, its real significance lies elsewhere. That is, ritual works in the same way that any language works – as a means of expression” Bilton et al 2002 Introductory Sociology. Palgrave, p.425-6

12 12 Expressive character of ritual “[T]he whole procedure, or rite, has an essentially expressive aspect, whether or not it is thought to be effective instrumentally as well. In every rite something is being said as well as done. The man who consults a rain-maker, and the rain-maker who carries out a rain-making ceremony, are stating something: they are asserting symbolically the importance they attach to rain and their earnest desire that it should fall when it is required…

13 13 Expressive character of ritual [O]nce the essential expressive, symbolic character of ritual.. has been understood, it becomes easier to answer the question often asked: how is it that so many people continue to believe in and practise magic, without either noticing its ineffectiveness or attempting to test it empirically as they test their practical techniques. It is simply that there would be no point in doing so, for if and insofar as the rite is expressive… it would be inappropriate, even meaningless, to put them to the kinds of test which might disprove them.” (Beattie, 1964, pp. 203-4)

14 14 Kinds of ritual Victor Turner says - Ndembu rituals fall into two main types: Life Crisis Rituals : an important point in the physical or social development of an individual, such as birth, puberty, or death. …ceremonies or rituals designed to mark the transition from one phase of life or social status to another…. What ever society we live in we are all related to one another; out “big moments” are “big moments” for others as well. examples - initiation ceremonies and funeral ceremonies. Rituals of Afflication: Response to disease or misfortune. … Ndembu have come to associate misfortune in hunting, women’s reproductive disorders, and various forms of illness with the action of the spirits of the dead. Furthermore, whenever, an individual has been divined to have been “caught” buy such a spirit, he or she becomes the subject of an elaborate ritual, which many people from far and near attend, devised at once to propitiate and to get rid of the spirit that is though to be causing the trouble. Haviland uses the terms: Rites of passage which pertain to stages in the life cycle of the individual and rites of intensification which take place during a crisis in the life of the group serving to bind individuals together.

15 15 Types of ritual by function 1. Cyclical rituals: weekly, seasonal, annual, which have religious and communal functions; Sunday church, harvest festival, Christmas dinner, state opening of Parliament, Armistice day, ‘Obby ‘Os day etc. 2. Ad hoc rituals: enacted at specific times of crisis or celebration for individuals or communities; rain making, ritual cures, scoring a goal, greeting and farewell, etc. 3. Life stage transition rituals (rites de passage): baptism, initiation, marriage, funeral, etc. When do we send cards and give presents? –Christmas, birthdays, mothers day –Illness, –birth, graduation, weddings, confirmation, retirement,

16 16 What is the role of ritual in modern western society? Secularisation Secular rituals –Graduation –State ritual Do they follow the same logic? Symbolic and ritual pluralism –Diversity –Individualisation What about modern secular funerals?

17 17 Western funerals Ritualising death in the face of secularisation and individualisation Diversity of disposal sites Diversity of ritual including secular and custom designed Green funerals Pet funerals

18 18 Ritual change; new forms of funeral ritual Laying flowers at the site of a sudden death –Death by car accident dia/showcase/journalism/images/devoti onImage1.gif

19 19 Ritual change; new forms of funeral ritual Making the site, sacred and special with memorials –Not in home –Special e.g. football ground, favourite walk Sacred geography, sacred time Special language “laid to rest”, “coming to terms with”, “letting go”

20 20 Further reading Death, mourning, and burial : a cross-cultural reader / edited by Antonius C.G.M. Robben. Oxford : Blackwell, 2004. Barley, Nigel. Dancing on the grave : encounters with death / Nigel Barley. London : John Murray, 1995Barley, Nigel. Kate V. Hartig, and Kevin M. Dunn (March 1998) “Roadside Memorials: Interpreting New Deathscapes in Newcastle, New South Wales” Australian Geographical Studies Vol.36(1):5-20 6DF24576E5583F7BFCD3294CFD7338FDCE507EFABE7C29542FB5E929AB2CB0360FD225&f tindex=1&ext=.pdf 6DF24576E5583F7BFCD3294CFD7338FDCE507EFABE7C29542FB5E929AB2CB0360FD225&f tindex=1&ext=.pdf

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