Ritual in Its Own Right: Exploring the Dynamics of Transformation | BERGHAHN BOOKS
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Ritual in Its Own Right: Exploring the Dynamics of Transformation

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Ritual in Its Own Right

Exploring the Dynamics of Transformation

Edited by Don Handelman and Galina Lindquist

242 pages, illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-051-9 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (January 2005)

eISBN 978-0-85745-888-9 eBook


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“[The authors'] perspective is a lucid voice, original and challenging, that talks about rituals as phenomenon on their own accord, worthy of analysis and explanation as cultural units of practice whose internal logic may be independent of and disconnected from other cultural logics, and even from those surrounding them. Indeed, this is a strong claim.”  ·  Israeli Sociology

“[This] is not a loose collection of articles, but one focused on theoretical possibilities to examine the phenomenon of the ritual in isolation. Nearly all contributions are marked by the tension between autonomy and interdependence of rituals. They show the importance of paying attention to the inner structure and dynamics of ritual processes but also the need of ethnographic and theoretical contextualization.”  ·  Zeitschrift für Ethnologie

“...[presents] stimulating and fertile reflections [that] offer a valuable contribution to debates and questions that preoccupy anthropologists of rituals today.”  ·  Social Anthropology

“This edited volume, full of new and original perspectives, makes an important contribution to the anthropological and historical study of ritual...this fine collection of essays is a challenging and provocative contribution to the study of ritual, and certainly one that ought to change the ways in which anthropologists conceive of ritual.”  ·  Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“The multiplicity of case studies not only represents a variety of ritual forms, but also testifies to their complexity… the book [is] original and inspiring. No doubt, it constitutes an important contribution to the study of ritual.”  ·  Anthropos

”…this is an exciting book. The primary thesis around which it is built is novel and thought provoking, and the papers are generally stimulating and have very high quality. Anyone interested in ritual should certainly read it.”  ·  Journal of Anthropological Research


Historically, canonic studies of ritual have discussed and explained ritual organization, action, and transformation primarily as representations of broader cultural and social orders. In the present, as in the past, less attention is given to the power of ritual to organize and effect transformation through its own dynamics. Breaking with convention, the contributors to this volume were asked to discuss ritual first and foremost in relation to itself, in its own right, and only then in relation to its socio-cultural context. The results attest to the variable capacities of rites to effect transformation through themselves, and to the study of phenomena in their own right as a fertile approach to comprehending ritual dynamics.

Born in Montreal, Don Handelman is Sarah Allen Shaine Professor of Anthropology & Sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Manchester in 1971. He has been a Fellow of the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study, the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Collegium Budapest: Institute for Advanced Study, and the Institute for Advanced Study at The Hebrew University, and the Olof Palme Visiting Professor of the Swedish Social Science Research Council. His field research has been in the Great Basin, Newfoundland, Israel, and Andhra Pradesh. He has written extensively on ritual, play, expressive culture, and bureaucratic logic and the modern state, and is the author of Models and Mirrors: Towards an Anthropology of Public Events, Berghahn Books, 1998; Nationalism and the Israeli State: Bureaucratic Logic in Public Events, 2004; and with David Shulman is the coauthor of God Inside Out: Siva's Game of Dice (1997) and Siva in the Forest of Pines: An Essay on Sorcery and Self Knowledge (2004).

Galina Lindquist (1955-2008) was a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University. She received her Ph.D. in 1998, and did fieldwork among neo-shamans in Sweden, among alternative healing practitioners and patients in Moscow, and among shamans and lamas in Tyva, Southern Siberia. She authored Conjuring Hope: Healing and Magic in Contemporary Russia (2006), The Quest for the Authentic Shaman: Multiple Meanings of Shamanism on a Siberian Journey (2006), co-edited four volumes, and published numerous articles in professional journals.

Subject: Anthropology of ReligionTheory and Methodology


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