Understanding African Ritual

Walter E. A. van Beek

in The Dancing Dead

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199858149
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949489 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Ritual Studies Series

Understanding African Ritual

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Starting with the author’s own appreciation of Kapsiki country, this chapter outlines the general approach of the book into African ritual. The Western appreciation of landscape is contrasted with Tim Ingold’s notion of “dwelling,” which highlights a complicated, historically informed, and multifaceted relationship of the group with its environment. The text then goes into ritual theory, addressing the question of how people attribute meaning to acts which have been emptied of overt meaning. The answer to this question, one of agent signification, is linked with an approach to symbolism based on Victor Turner, among others. In so doing the chapter develops an additional angle into the dynamics of an ‘”imagistic religion”—in the terms of Harvey Whitehouse’s modes of religiosity theory—such as Kapsiki/Higi religion.

Keywords: dwelling; imagistic; symbol; theory; ritual; counterintuitive; meaning

Chapter.  6632 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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