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What roles might the concept of ritual play in the study of contemporary society and culture? As one of the founding concepts of our discipline, ritual has long been a cornerstone of anthropological thought: from the works of Émile Durkheim through Gregory Bateson, Claude Levi-Strauss, Mary Douglas, and Victor Turner, countless classics have been built upon this infinitely perplexing and thus fascinating aspect of human life. In recent decades, however, ritual has undergone a rapid retreat from the forefront of anthropological consideration. Although ritual’s role in the initial formation of anthropology does not grant it permanent immunity to transitions in scholarly interest, its recent departure also should not be casually interpreted as proof of irrelevance.


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Lyons, Barry J. 2005. "Discipline and the Arts of Domination: Rituals of Respect in Chimborazo, Ecuador." Cultural Anthropology 20, no. 1: 97–127.

Howe, Cymene. 2001. "Queer Pilgrimage: The San Francisco Homeland and Identity Tourism." Cultural Anthropology 16, no. 1: 35–61.

Kaplan, Danny. 2009. "The Songs of the Siren: Engineering National Time on Israeli Radio." Cultural Anthropology 24, no. 2: 313–345.

Chao, Emily. 1999. "The Maoist Shaman and the Madman: Ritual Bricolage, Failed Ritual, and Failed Ritual Theory." Cultural Anthropology 14, no. 4: 505–534.

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Photo by Sol Robayo, licensed under CC BY.


Created by Kevin Carrico, 2011.