Victor turner ritual process

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The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure

Alfred Harris Foreword by. Roger D. Abrahams Foreword by. The Ritual Process has acquired the status of a small classic since these lectures were first published in Turner demonstrates how the analysis of ritual behavior and symbolism may be used as a key to understanding social structure and processes. He extends Van Gennep's notion of the "liminal phase" of rites of passage to a more general level, and applies it to gain understanding of a wide range of social phenomena.

Once thought to be the "vestigial" organs of social conservatism, rituals are now seen as arenas in which social change may emerge and be absorbed into social practice.

As Roger Abrahams writes in his foreword to the revised edition: "Turner argued from specific field data. His special eloquence resided in his ability to lay open a sub-Saharan African system of belief and practice in terms that took the reader beyond the exotic features of the group among whom he carried out his fieldwork, translating his experience into the terms of contemporary Western perceptions.

Reflecting Turner's range of intellectual interests, the book emerged as exceptional and eccentric in many ways: yet it achieved its place within the intellectual world because it so successfully synthesized continental theory with the practices of ethnographic reports. Get A Copy. Paperbackpages. Published January 2nd by Routledge first published January 1st More Details Original Title.

Other Editions Friend Reviews.Victor Turner was an anthropologist whose thinking has greatly influenced our ideas about ritual. The reading below represents excerpts from two of his works.

Victor Turner

The first, from an article Turner wrote for the journal Scienceprovides a definition of a ritual and a discussion of its characteristics. The second, taken from Turner's book The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structuredescribes liminality, an important concept which he identified in one particular kind of ritual, the rite of passage.

Rites of passage celebrate the movement of a member of a society from one state or condition to another.

victor turner ritual process

A graduation, for example, represents the passage of members of a school's student body out of the school and into another stage of education or experience. Rites of passage comprise a large and important category of rituals, but not all rituals are rites of passage. A Thanksgiving Day parade, for instance, celebrates the change of seasons from Summer to Fall, and would be considered what Turner calls a cyclic ritual, not a rite of passage.

Rituals may be seasonal, hallowing a culturally defined moment of change in the climatic cycle or the inauguration of an activity such as planting, harvesting, or moving from winter to summer pasture; or they may be contingent, held in response to an individual or collective crisis. Contingent rituals may be further subdivided into life-crisis ceremonies, which are performed at birth, puberty, marriage, death, and so on, to demarcate the passage from one phase to another in the individual's life-cycle, and rituals of affliction, which are performed to placate or exorcise preternatural beings or forces believed to have afflicted villagers with illness, bad luck, gynecological troubles, severe physical injuries, and the like.

Other classes of rituals include divinatory rituals; ceremonies performed by political authorities to ensure the health and fertility of human beings, animals, and crops in their territories; initiation into priesthoods devoted to certain deities, into religious associations, or into secret societies; and those accompanying the daily offering of food and libations to deities or ancestral spirits or both. Africa is rich indeed in ritual genres, and each involves many specific performances. Turner lived among the Ndembu, a central African tribe, from tostudying their society and their religious practices.

Each rural African society which is often, though not always, coterminous with a linguistic community possesses a finite number of distinguishable rituals that may include all or some of the types listed above. At varying intervals, from a year to several decades, all of a society's rituals will be performed, the most important for example, the symbolic transference of political authority from one generation to another, as among the Nyakyusa Wilson of Tanzania being performed perhaps the least often.

Since societies are processes responsive to change, not fixed structures, new rituals are devised or borrowed, and old ones decline and disappear. Nevertheless, forms survive through flux, and new ritual items, even new ritual configurations, tend more often to be variants of old themes than radical novelties.

Thus it is possible for anthropologists to describe the main features of a ritual system, or rather ritual round successive ritual performancesin those parts of rural Africa where change is occurring slowly. The Semantic Structure of the Symbol.

In this section, Turner is interested in determining the meaning of rituals in general. That is, he wants to define his methodological terms in such a way that he can study two specific rituals in different societies and apply his terms to both. At one pole of meaning, empirical research has shown that the significata tend to refer to components of the moral and social orders -- this might be termed the ideological or normative pole of symbolic meaning; at the other, the sensory or orectic pole, are concentrated references to phenomena and processes that may be expected to stimulate desires and feelings.

Thus, I have shown that the mudyi tree, or milktree Diplorrhyncus mossambicensiswhich is the focal symbol of the girls' puberty ritual of the Ndembu people of northwestern Zambia, at its normative pole represents womanhood, motherhood, the mother-child bond, a novice ,undergoing initiation into mature womanhood, a specific matrilineage, the principle of matriliny, the process of learning "women's wisdom," the unity and perdurance of Ndembu society, and all of the values and virtues inherent in the various relationships -- domestic, legal, and political -- controlled by matrilineal descent.

Each of these aspects of its normative meaning becomes paramount in a specific episode of the puberty ritual; together they form a condensed statement of the structural and communal importance of femaleness in Ndembu culture. At its sensory pole, the same symbol stands for breast milk the tree exudes milky latex -- indeed, the significata associated with the sensory pole often have a more or less direct connection with some sensorily perceptible attribute of the symbolmother's breasts, and the bodily slenderness and mental pliancy of the novice a young slender sapling of mudyi is used.

The tree, situated a short distance from the novice's village, becomes the center of a sequence of ritual episodes rich in symbols words, objects, and actions that express important cultural themes. Dominant Symbols in Ritual Cycles. Rituals tend to be organized in a cycle of performances annual, biennial, quinquennial, and so on ; even in the case of contingent rituals, each is performed eventually.

In each total assemblage, or system, there is a nucleus of dominant symbols, which are characterized by extreme multivocality having many senses and a central position in each ritual performance. Associated with this nucleus is a much larger number of enclitic dependent symbols. Some of these are univocal, while others, like prepositions in language, become mere relation or function signs that keep the ritual action going for example, bowings, lustrations, sweepings, and objects indicative of joining or separation.

Dominant symbols provide the fixed points of the total system and recur in many of its component rituals. For example, if 15 separate kinds of ritual can be empirically distinguished in a given ritual system, dominant symbol A may be found in l0 of them, B in 7, C in 5, and D in The mudyi tree, for example, is found in boys' and girls' initiation ceremonies, in five rituals concerned with female reproductive disorders, in at least three rituals of the hunters' cults, and in various herbalistic practices of a magical cast.

Other dominant symbols of Ndembu rituals, as I have shown elsewhere Turner ; ; a recur almost as frequently in the ritual round. Each of these symbols, then, has multiple referents, but on each occasion that it is used -- usually an episode within a ritual performance -- only one or a related few of its referents are drawn to public attention.Hey, i am looking for an online sexual partner ; Click on my boobs if you are interested.

The first half deals with the structure and the role of symbolism in Ndembu rituals, and the second, forming the main theoretical argument of the book, meditates on the relationship between the concepts of liminality and communitas that arise from his analysis of rituals, and their codependence with the concept of structure. Van Gennep articulates a tripartite analytic framework describing the structure and progression of rituals:.

During the liminal phase, ritual participants engage in mimetic activity reenacting the crisis motivating the ritual. Having confronted both the justification for and the problems arising from social structures and practices, ritual practitioners reenter society with a clearer understanding of the norms and obligations incumbent upon them, and of their role in society. For van Gennep, all rituals share this general structure, which effectively integrates individual life processes and social events into a unified framework that fosters social stability and cultural vitality.

These first two chapters are mostly dedicated to in-depth analyses of particular Ndembu rituals, so I decided to ignore the argumentative and descriptive structure of these chapters and focus on his main theoretical points. If you want more detail on Ndembu rituals, ask me:. The Importance of Studying Religious Rituals in Social Science — Turner criticizes just about every social scientist he can think of for either ignoring religious ritual entirely in their analysis or engaging in inadequate analysis of it.

victor turner ritual process

The Practice of Ethnography — Turner also criticizes ethnographers who engage in field work solely to conduct quantitative studies on social practices. Rituals as Responses to Social Crises — A ritual is required either when a social norm is violated or when different social norms come into conflict with each other. For instance, female infertility is explained in Ndembu culture by the contradiction between two obligations incumbent upon married women: to stay with and please her husband, and to honor her maternal village, as the Ndembu practice matrilineal descent.

The Isoma ritual resolves this crisis between social obligations placed upon the wife by enacting a healing ceremony where the woman a proceeds away from an ikela hole in the ground representing death and witchcraft and towards an ikela representing health, restoring her fertility. Around the burrow on the left are female adepts past Isoma veterans and on the right male adepts men whose wives are Isoma veteransand the woman in her procession c walks between these groups, representing her balancing of the contradictory obligations placed upon her by her male husband and her female ancestors.

Symbols — The hermeneutics of rituals are expressed in symbols. These associations need not be logically related, and can even be contradictory.

For instance, the mudyi tree represents breast milk and matriliny, while the mukula tree represents blood from circumcision and masculine maturity. A single symbol ie. Symbols are organized in terms of binary pairs that also organize thought.

Symbols are physical objects or actions that represent different aspects of daily life and give them coherence as elements of a unified framework within the context of a myth. Ritual Space — Once practitioners enter the liminal phase of ritual, ordinary conceptions of space are abandoned.

Symbols gain their multivocality through representing aspects of each spatial axis, and space is organized in rituals in terms of the symbols lying along each axis. This is especially noticeable in situations where liminal entities are undergoing a transition towards a higher social status.

In Ndembu chieftain rituals, for instance, the future chieftain is, the night before his accession to his new office, portrayed as a slave and is submitted to the abuse and arbitrary power of the entire community, forced to undergo violent and humiliating abuse.

This treatment, far from being a gratuitous display of hatred by the weak, in fact has a formative function. The future chieftain in his liminal state learns the true meaning of arbitrary authority and abuse of power, and in suffering this violence displays the self-mastery and control over vicious characteristics such as greed, pride, and anger, required to perform his duties as a good ruler.

Second, united as abased equals, liminal beings also gain a peculiar status recognized as both sacred and dangerous. Turner notes a number of instances across cultures where marginal or weak figures such as strangers, foolish people, women, millenarians, and even hippies, while socially separated and even at times ostracized, possess peculiar spiritual capacities and powers.

Here Turner describes in full the opposition between structure and communitas. Structure and communitas are two models of social organization, normatively describing opposed forms of social identity and practice of social interaction.

In essence, structure describes society as it normally exists in light of socioeconomic and political realities, with divided segments or hierarchies that separate individuals from one another and give them regulated and mutually recognized identities. Certain acceptable forms of interaction are prescribed for relationships between peers and between superiors and inferiors that delimit and regulate social interaction and exchange.

Without a regulated form of social identity, communitas also lacks a regulated form of human interaction. Turner makes use of the spontaneous form of interaction and community Martin Buber describes in his book I and Thou. As a spontaneous and immediate form of social organization, communitas eventually succumbs to the pragmatic requirements of social life, thereby becoming structure once again.

Turner therefore differentiates three types of communitas:. This often occurs when sectarian schisms separate originally unified movements, prompting individuals to exert top-down control over the different sub-movements, creating social structures.

The ideal type of communitas is existential communitas, the state where liminal beings confront each other without such dividing factors as social position, private property, rank, age, often times sex or race, instead embodying universal principles of justice, solidarity, and equality before a deity.

Individuals no longer recognize each other in terms of themselves and their own identities eg. I am your boss; you are thus my underling, etc.The Ritual Process has acquired the status of a small classic since these lectures were first published in Turner demonstrates how the analysis of ritual behavior and symbolism may be used as a key to understanding social structure and processes. He extends Van Gennep's notion of the "liminal phase" of rites of passage to a more general level, and applies it to gain understanding of a wide range of social phenomena.

Once thought to be the "vestigial" organs of social conservatism, rituals are now seen as arenas in which social change may emerge and be absorbed into social practice.

victor turner ritual process

As Roger Abrahams writes in his foreword to the revised edition: "Turner argued from specific field data. His special eloquence resided in his ability to lay open a sub-Saharan African system of belief and practice in terms that took the reader beyond the exotic features of the group among whom he carried out his fieldwork, translating his experience into the terms of contemporary Western perceptions. Reflecting Turner's range of intellectual interests, the book emerged as exceptional and eccentric in many ways: yet it achieved its place within the intellectual world because it so successfully synthesized continental theory with the practices of ethnographic reports.

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Victor Turner was a research officer at the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute in Zambia, where he began what was to be a lifelong study of Ndembu village life, ritual, and symbolism. He taught at the University of Manchester from towhen he moved to the United States. Turner served as professor of anthropology at Cornell University, From tohe was professor of anthropology and social thought at the University of Chicago, and then until the time of his death he was William R.

Roger Abrahams recently retired as director of the Center for Folklore and Ethnography at the University of Pennsylvania. This is one of Turner's earlier works. It is a collection of lectures and therefore less dense than other works.

victor turner ritual process

It is primarily a development of van Gennep's theory of liminality in rites of passage Victor Turner. Liminality and Communitas. Model and Process. The Liminality.From the s through the early s, the classic structural functionalist view of rites of passage was challenged and revised.

The charge was led by the British anthropologist Victor Turner, who acknowledged the contribution of structural functionalism to the study of rites of passage and of the broader category of ritual while pointing out its limitations. In his study of African rites of passage, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-StructureTurner revealed the drama and flux of everyday social life and highlighted the agency of rites in effecting social changewhich he considered to be their fundamental role.

Rites enable participants to experiment with alternative social relations or to invent new ones. Participants in rites of passage may also engage in role reversal. Among the Ndembu people of Zimbabwe, for example, the crown-elect takes on the role of a commoner. Turner understood ritual and social structure to stand in a dialectical relationship. Ritual, including rites of passage, emerges in response to structure and its limitations.

Structure has the positive quality of organizing a society so it can meet its material needs, yet it also draws distinctions between human beings. Although structure is a basic human need, according to Turner, so are directness and equality. Turner supported this thesis with another example from his study of the rite of passage for newly elected Ndembu kings.

The rite in which the crown-elect, en route to his elevation as king, assumes the role of a commoner includes ritual humiliation. He is stripped of his royal stature and given lowly status before he is exalted.

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Humiliation serves to remind the future king that his office is designed to serve the people and their common needs rather than his own self-interest. The social and ritual authorities who are concerned with maintaining the status quo often attempt to control rites of passage, which proscribe social statuses and identities in the face of changes and crises that may alter or challenge the standing social order.

Many scholars who emphasized the functional significance of rites of passage tended to reduce them—and religion in general—to their social utility; others gave primacy to it. These reductionist approaches, according to some critics, often minimized or ignored the significance of the symbolic content of religious rites of passage and of religion itself.

The development of religious studies as an academic discipline in the early 20th century helped to draw attention to the existential and philosophical significance of religious beliefs and symbols for adherents of religions. Scholars of religious studies have emphasized the symbolic content of religious rites while examining belief systems and other symbolic dimensions in historical and social contexts. These scholars of religion approach religious belief and experience as phenomena that have significance and are worthy of study in their own right.

In their attempt to understand religion from the point of view of practitioners, some scholars have undergone ritual initiation into the religious community or group that is the subject of their study. Some contemporary scholars of religion have attempted to reinvent rites of passage for the many individuals who feel that the established religions of their societies do not address their needs. The American ritual theorist Ronald Grimes, who founded the interdisciplinary field of ritual studies, has attempted to transcend detached scientific analysis by encouraging individuals to cultivate rites of passage and other rituals that would address existential crises in their own lives and enable them to discover personal meaning.

Grimes created new rites for his own life and encouraged his university students to do the same; most reported that the new rites were more effective than traditional rites in helping them come to terms with life-changing events.Victor Witter Turner 28 May — 18 December was a British cultural anthropologist best known for his work on symbolsritualsand rites of passage.

His work, along with that of Clifford Geertz and others, is often referred to as symbolic and interpretive anthropology. His father was an electrical engineer and his mother a repertory actress, who founded the Scottish National Players.

Performance Studies: An Introduction - What is Performance?

Turner initially studied poetry and classics at the University College London. During his three years of service he met and married Edith Brocklesby Daviswho was serving during the war as a "land girl". Turner returned to University College in with a new focus on anthropology. He later pursued graduate studies in anthropology at Manchester University.

It was through the position that Turner started his lifelong study of the Ndembu people of Zambia. He completed his PhD at University of Manchester in Like many of the Manchester anthropologists of his time, he also became concerned with conflict. He developed the new concept of social drama in order to account for the symbolism of conflict and crisis resolution among Ndembu villagers. Turner spent his career exploring rituals. As a professor at the University of Chicago in the late s, Turner began to apply his study of rituals and rites of passage to world religions and the lives of religious heroes.

He and his wife converted to Catholicism in Turner explored Arnold van Gennep 's threefold structure of rites of passage and expanding theories on the liminal phase.

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Van Gennep's structure consisted of a pre-liminal phase separationa liminal phase transitionand a post-liminal phase reincorporation. Turner noted that in liminalitythe transitional state between two phases, individuals were "betwixt and between": they did not belong to the society that they previously were a part of and they were not yet reincorporated into that society.

Liminality is a limbo, an ambiguous period characterized by humility, seclusion, tests, sexual ambiguity, and communitas. Turner was also a committed ethnographer and produced work on ritual. He and his wife Edith L. Turner co-authored Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture Turner died on 18 December in CharlottesvilleVirginia. After his death, his widow Edith Turner embarked on her own career as an anthropologist.

She developed upon Victor's "anthropology of experience" with a publication on communitas. Eligible works are "published books in various genres including ethnographic monographs, narratives, essays, biographies, memoirs, poetry, and drama.The other caveat is not to heat the glass too quickly. Let foods thaw at room temperature to avoid glass breakage. Another option for the refrigerator or freezer are the flat-topped airtight stainless steel containers from Life Without Plastic.

Their flat top makes them easy to stack and the fact that they are airtight means food can be stored longer. Read about my favorite container here. You can also learn to can foods in glass jars or dehydrate produce to keep through the winter. I did question whether it was better to donate these unhealthy items or to trash them. Turns out, our Oaklandwater is fine without a filter.

So we can avoid plastic water filter cartridges from now on. For those who do need to filter their water, Brita has teamed up with Preserve to create a way to recycle the plastic cartridges.

All prepared soy milk cartons contain plastic. I squeeze fresh lemon and lime juice and keep it in glass jars in the refrigerator. And we make our own hummus, either from dried chick peas or from the dry mix in the bulk bin at Whole Foods.

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We can put all of our food scraps (including meat) and food-soiled paper, along with yard waste, into our green bins. Read more about collecting garbage without plastic trash bags. If you live inCalifornia, you should not flush cat poop unless you know for sure it is free of the parasite toxoplasma gondii, which is harmful to sea otters. Outdoor cats are susceptible because they pick it up from rodents. But the best cat toys of all. Wine corks, hands down.

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