Posts Tagged ‘Ritual’

Ritual Textuality: Review Forum (Matt Tomlinson)

July 6, 2014

A Reply to Reviewers

By: Matt Tomlinson (Australian National University)

 

I am grateful to the reviewers for their engaged readings of Ritual Textuality and to AnthroCyBib for hosting this forum. It is both daunting and exhilarating to watch one’s own book—such an intimately strange creation!—move into conversationsof critique. The reviewers have carefully described the argument and been generous in their responses. Individually and collectively, they raise insightful questions, especially about dimensions of metaphor, the utility of typologies, and the limits of language. I will address each reviewer’s contribution individually. Read the rest of this entry »

Ritual Textuality: Review Forum (Girish Daswani)

July 6, 2014

Tomlinson, Matt. 2014. Ritual Textuality: Pattern and Motion in Performance. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 

By: Girish Daswani (University of Toronto)

 

This is the kind of book that you will want to read. It is based on twenty-eight months of research in Fiji (Kadavu and Suva) and explores the overlapping themes of Pentecostal Christianity, Methodism, tradition and politics. It is also theoretically insightful and relevant because it takes you beyond Fiji, Christianity, tradition and politics. Tomlinson’s book is both short and eloquently written. It is an Introduction, four chapters and a “Full Stop” (his conclusion) long and is designed to both inform and effectively teach readers how discourse and written texts, which emerge in ritual performances, can be broken down into distinctive patterns. There are four basic patterns to all ritual performances Tomlinson suggests – sequence, conjunction, contrast and substitution – and once you know what these patterns are and how they function and converge, a new door of analysis opens up. All you have to do is walk in. Even if this book is not explicitly framed as an invitation, it implicitly invites you to try these methods for yourself. The content of its pages leaves the reader with important conceptual tools with which to analyze an array of ritual performances in motion and to understand how the various components of these rituals converge in different ways and to varying effects. Read the rest of this entry »

Ritual Textuality: Review Forum (Rodolfo Maggio)

July 6, 2014

Tomlinson, Matt. 2014. Ritual Textuality: Pattern and Motion in Performance. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 

By: Rodolfo Maggio (University of Manchester)

 

Matt Tomlinson’s Ritual Textuality is a fascinating and capturing interplay between conceptual categories and ethnographic data. From the very beginning of the book the reader is intrigued by the degree of precision with which Tomlinson defines the concepts through which he comprehends the objects of his analysis. Dipping into the introduction, one’s mind’s eye seems to observe a chemist who prepares his tubes and kits himself out for a daring experiment. Read the rest of this entry »

Ritual Textuality: Review Forum (Courtney Handman)

July 6, 2014

Tomlinson, Matt. 2014. Ritual Textuality: Pattern and Motion in Performance. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

By: Courtney Handman (Reed College)

 

In 1976 Michael Silverstein’s landmark paper outlining the opposition between presupposing and creative indexicality helped usher in a new focus within linguistic anthropology about practice and performance. Dependent upon – indeed dedicated to – Roman Jakobson, Silverstein seemed to pry open a new corner in studies of ritual that focused on the very contingent nature of even the most scripted events. While Levi-Strauss had relegated rituals in “primitive” societies to foregone conclusions – sporting events in which the game only ended when the ritually scripted result had been achieved – and the structural-functionalists had seen in rituals largely the playing out of social structural orders, Silverstein’s focus on creativity (also called entailing indexicality) put some stakes back into the ritual game. Not only should all interactions be seen as more or less ritualized, but all such interactions had serious consequences should those entailments not go according to plan. Read the rest of this entry »

Ritual Textuality: Review Forum (Omri Elisha)

July 6, 2014

Tomlinson, Matt. 2014. Ritual Textuality: Pattern and Motion in Performance. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 

By: Omri Elisha (Queens College, CUNY)

 

I know I’m not alone when I say that my love of anthropology began with the study of ritual. As an undergraduate I was enchanted by the subject, captivated by all the drama, symbolism, and effervescence of the concentrated cultural tinderbox that was “Ritual.” My first anthropology professor, a master storyteller and something of an ethnographic traditionalist, introduced me to a rich lineage of dissecting ritual anatomies and signs, and of theoretical models revealing hidden patterns and intrinsic functions. Read the rest of this entry »

Tomlinson, “Ritual Textuality”

March 23, 2014

Tomlinson, Matt. 2014. Ritual Textuality: Pattern and Motion in Performance. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Publisher’s Description: A classic question in studies of ritual is how ritual performances achieve-or fail to achieve-their effects. In this pathbreaking book, Matt Tomlinson argues that participants condition their own expectations of ritual success by interactively creating distinct textual patterns of sequence, conjunction, contrast, and substitution. Drawing on long-term research in Fiji, the book presents in-depth studies of each of these patterns, taken from a wide range of settings: a fiery, soul-saving Pentecostal crusade; relaxed gatherings at which people drink the narcotic beverage kava; deathbeds at which missionaries eagerly await the signs of good Christians’ “happy deaths”; and the monologic pronouncements of a military-led government determined to make the nation speak in a single voice. In each of these cases, Tomlinson also examines the broad ideologies of motion which frame participants’ ritual actions, such as Pentecostals’ beliefs that effective worship requires ecstatic movement like jumping, dancing, and clapping, and nineteenth-century missionaries’ insistence that the journeys of the soul in the afterlife should follow a new path. By approaching ritual as an act of “entextualization”-in which the flow of discourse is turned into object-like texts-while analyzing the ways people expect words, things, and selves to move in performance, this book presents a new and compelling way to understand the efficacy of ritual action.

Saint-Blancet and Cancellieri, “From invisibility to visibility?”

February 14, 2014

Saint-Blancet, Chantal and Adriano Cancellieri.  2014.  “From invisibility to visibility?: The appropriation of public space through a religious ritual: the Filipino procession of Santacruzan in Padua, Italy.  Social & Cultural Geography. Early online publication.

Abstract: Mainly employed as domestic workers and care providers since the 1980s, Filipino migrants have been, and still are, largely invisible in Italian public space. Since 1991, once a year, on the last Sunday of May, they transform the streets of Padua, city of Saint Anthony, into their own temporary ‘sacred space’ celebrating the finding of the Holy Cross (Santa Cruz). Based on ethnographic research and in-depth interviews, the paper analyses the preparation of the ritual and the embodied performance as a means to interpret the Filipino local and transnational territorialisation in the Italian context. The discussion underlines how the Italian setting affects the relationship between the sacred and the secular and between majority and minority religions in the urban texture. Urban space being the symbolic arena where identity and the process of boundary making are inscribed, we consider public space as a social process constituted by three levels: accessibility, temporary appropriation and visibility. Drawing on this immigrant religious ritual, we apply this perspective to look at the interactions between local society and newcomers and the blurring boundaries between religious and non-religious in the ambiguous Italian public space.

Mayblin & Course “The Other Side of Sacrifice”

October 16, 2013

Mayblin, Maya and Magnus Course. 2013. Introduction – The Other Side of Sacrifice. Ethnos:  Journal of Anthropology. (Early digital release: dx.doi.org/10.1080/00141844.2013.841720).

Abstract: While contemporary philosophers have been content to declare the logical possibilities of sacrifice exhausted, to have finally ‘sacrificed sacrifice,’ for many people around the world the notion of sacrifice – whether religious, secular, or somewhere in between – remains absolutely central to their understanding of themselves, their relations with others, and their place in the world. From religion to economics, and from politics to the environment, sacrificial tropes frequently emerge as key means of mediating and propagating various forms of power, moral discourse, and cultural identity. This paper lays out reasons for retaining sacrifice as an analytical concept within anthropology, and argues for the importance of a renewed focus on the ‘other side of sacrifice’, as a means of understanding better how sacrifice emerges beyond ritual and enters into the full gamut of social life.

Schram, “One mind: Enacting the Christian congregation among the Auhelawa”

April 13, 2013

Scrham, Ryan. 2013. One mind: Enacting the Christian congregation among the Auhelawa, Papua New Guinea. The Australian Journal of Anthropology 24(1):30-47.

Abstract: This article examines the relationship between Christian worship and the production of religious identity among Auhelawa speakers of Normanby Island, Papua New Guinea. Auhelawa people live in a society in which a locally developed form of Christianity has emerged from a long engagement with missionaries. In the colonial era, missionaries spoke in terms of light and darkness to mediate their contradictory aims of both authentic personal conversion and total social change. Today Auhelawa believe that their society has been changed, and that this change entails a new way of thinking as well as acting, though like the missionaries they also struggle to express the relationship between the two. Viewing themselves as already converted, Auhelawa today use an ideology of ‘one mind’—unity in purpose which is subjectively felt and outwardly expressed—to resolve how their collective worship relates to individual belief. This framing of ritual, embedded in church prayer and music, however, is always incomplete. I argue this not only points to an important step in the process of formation of congregations, but also suggests why Christianity globally is both unitary yet also so strikingly diverse.

Naumescu, “Old Believers’ Passion Play”

April 1, 2013

Naumescu, Vlad. 2013. Old Believers’ Passion Play: The Meaning of Doubt in an Orthodox Ritualist Movement. In Ethnographies of Doubt: Faith and Certainty in Contemporary Societies, ed. Mathijs Pelkmans. New York: Palgrave, 85-118.

Volume Description: Religious and secular convictions have powerful effects, but their foundations are often surprisingly fragile. New converts often come across as stringent believers precisely because they need to dispel their own lingering doubts, while revolutionary movements survive only through the denial of ambiguity. This book shows that a focus on uncertainty and doubt is indispensable for grasping the role of ideas in social action. Drawing on a wide range of cases, from spirit mediums in Taiwan to Maoist revolutionaries in India, from right-wing populists in Europe to converts to Pentecostalism in Central Asia, the authors analyse the ways in which doubt is overcome and, conversely, how belief-systems collapse. In doing so, Ethnographies of Doubt provides important insights into the cycles of faith, hope, conviction and disillusion that are intrinsic to the human condition.

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