Recasting Ritual: Performance, Media, Identity

Recasting Ritual: Performance, Media, Identity

Recasting Ritual: Performance, Media, Identity

Recasting Ritual: Performance, Media, Identity


Recasting Ritual explores how ritual behaviour changes in response to varying cultural, political and physical contexts. The contributors from Spain, Sweden, Norway and the UK examine how globalization and technology affect ritual performance.Wide ranging examples based on original research from the Pacific, Europe, East and West Africa, Latin America and Indonesia illustrate the relationships between ritual and social identity.These include:* how married Muslim women in Kenya admire new brides in a style influenced by US soap operas* how the Olympic Winter Games in Norway contrasted the femininity of the athletic cross-country skier with the fragile figure skater* how shoulder callouses from carrying statues in rituals are a prestigious form of identity for Catholic men in Malta.The book includes a thorough introduction which puts the chapters in context and brings out their implications and importance for anthropology.


Ritual is an increasingly contested and expanding arena for resistance, negotiation and the affirmation of identity. As global markets bring diverse groups into different forms of contact, so these groups strive to determine their present interests and future identities by controlling representations that range from live performance to hypermedia. Such extensions of ritual action raise important questions about the relationship of local culture to global politics, which in turn affect our understanding of the nature of groups and cultures, and the disciplinary boundaries between anthropology, media studies and performance studies.

This volume explores ritualised action, but in doing so also addresses changes in foundational anthropological paradigms for the explanation of behaviour and society. It starts from three broad questions. First, how might anthropological analyses of ritual practice respond to the diversification of performance and audience, from live to mediated contexts? Second, what can the analysis of ritual reveal about identity politics and the relationship between power and culture in global and local practices? Third, is there a future for distinctive anthropological approaches to ritualised social action, or are we set to merge into cultural, performance and media studies?

Performance, media, identity

As we were drafting this introduction, the British public was experiencing and constituting what the press referred to as 'the Diana phenomenon'. Following her death after a car accident in the early hours of 31 August 1997, 'Princess Diana' became a contested sphere. From across the world came reports and pictures of remarkable and unpredictable displays of public grief. the culmination of this week

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