Negotiating Rites

Ute Husken and Frank Neubert

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199812295
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919390 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Ritual Studies Series

Negotiating Rites

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Ritual is often seen as an undisputed and indisputable part of all sorts of traditions, religious and secular. However, a close look at ritual actions and texts points toward the fact that rituals not only are frequently disputed, but that they also constitute a field in which vital and sometimes even violent negotiations take place. This insight opens up fruitful new perspectives on ritual procedures, on the interactions that constitute these procedures, and on their contexts. The rituals or ritualized behavior investigated in this volume represent a broad spectrum, such as worship in a Tibetan Buddhist tradition practiced in Canada, animist mortuary rituals in northern India, a New Year’s festival in Swahili society, atonement rituals in ancient Indian texts, rituals of Tibetan “Treasure Revealers”, initiation rituals in Tibetan Buddhism and in Wiccan religion in the U.S.A., Jewish same-sex wedding rituals in the U.S.A. and Canada, rites connected to imperial power in eleventh-century China, festivities commemorating Martin Luther in the former East Germany, “hook-swinging” ritual as viewed by colonial, Brahmanic and subaltern actors in South India, the historical development of the interpretation of Indian Tantric rites, and scholarly discourse on ritual. Not only are the actions and corresponding discourses diverse, but also the materials that form the basis of the individual case studies: some contributors use texts, some analyze ritual performance; others use both, textual analysis and qualitative field study. This book shows that negotiations are ubiquitous in ritual contexts, either in relation to the ritual itself, or in relation to the realm beyond any given ritual performance. In fact, ritual’s embeddedness in negotiation processes is one of its central features.

Keywords: ritual; negotiation; performance; religion; festivity; initiation; field study; textual analysis

Book.  312 pages. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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