Ritual studies today figures as a central element of religious discourse for many scholars around the world. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, Catherine Bell's sweeping and seminal work on the subject, helped legitimize the field. In this volume, Bell re-examines the issues, methods, and ramifications of our interest in ritual by concentrating on anthropology, sociology, and the history of religions. Now with a new foreword by Diane Jonte-Pace, Bell's work is a must-read for understanding the evolution of the field of ritual studies and its current state.
Arguing that the concept of ritual is overdue for critical rethinking, Bell here offers a close theoretical analysis of recent developments in ritual studies, concentrating on anthropology, sociology, and history of religions. She begins by showing how discourse on ritual has served to generate and legitimate a limited and ultimately closed form of cultural analysis. She then proposes that so-called ritual activities be removed from their isolated position as special, paradigmatic acts and restored to the context of "social activity" in general. Using the term "ritualization" to describe ritual thus contextualized, she defines it as a culturally strategic way of acting. She goes on to show how this definition can serve to illuminate such classic issues in traditional ritual studies as belief, ideology, legitimation, and power.
From handshakes and toasts to chant and genuflection, ritual pervades our social interactions and religious practices. Still, few of us could identify all of our daily and festal ritual behaviors, much less explain them to an outsider. Similarly, because of the variety of activities that qualify as ritual and their many contradictory yet, in many ways, equally legitimate interpretations, ritual seems to elude any systematic historical and comparative scrutiny. In this book, Catherine Bell offers a practical introduction to ritual practice and its study; she surveys the most influential theories of religion and ritual, the major categories of ritual activity, and the key debates that have shaped our understanding of ritualism. Bell refuses to nail down ritual with any one definition or understanding. Instead, her purpose is to reveal how definitions emerge and evolve and to help us become more familiar with the interplay of tradition, exigency, and self-expression that goes into constructing this complex social medium.
The book explores the links between mythic and rituals, arguing that the connectedness with ritual endows a story with a mythic essence. Detailed discussions of various rituals exemplify the major theoretical discourse. The book is of interest to scholars in the areas of religious studies, the anthropology of religion, and Halakhah (law and ritual).
Catherine Bell provides a practical introduction to ritual and its study with comprehensive overviews of the most influential theories of religion and ritual. The book examines the major categories of ritual activity.
Hindu Ritual and Its Significance for Ritual Theory
Author: Axel Michaels
Pubpsher: Oxford University Press
"Are the richness and diversity of rituals and celebrations in South Asia unique? Can we speak of a homo ritualis when it comes to India or Hinduism? Are Indians or Hindus more involved in rituals than other people? If so, what makes them special? Homo Ritualis is the first book to present a Hindu theory of rituals. Based on extensive textual studies and field-work in Nepal and India, Axel Michaels argues that ritual is a distinctive way of acting, which, as in the theater, can be distinguished from other forms of action. The book analyzes ritual in these cultural-specific and religious contexts, taking into account how indigenous terms and theories affect and contribute to current ritual theory. It describes and investigates various forms of Hindu rituals and festivals, such as life-cycle rituals, the Vedic sacrifice, vows processions, and the worship of deities (puja). It also examines conceptual components of (Hindu) rituals such as framing, formality, modality, and theories of meaning"--
Although numerous studies of religious rituals have been conducted by religious studies scholars, anthropologists, sociologists, and psychologists, it is rare to find a work that brings scholars from different disciplines together to discuss the similarities and differences in their research. This book represents contributions by leading scholars from several disciplines that show the diversity of approaches to religious rituals, while also providing cross-disciplinary perspectives on this topic. The goals of the chapters are to consider where the field currently stands in understanding religious rituals and what novel ideas can improve our knowledge about these practices; and furnish innovative applications of theory by discussing particular examples which are drawn from the authors’ fieldwork. The chapters cover Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, and Islamic rituals, thus providing a view of how ritual practices vary across the globe, but also how they share some important characteristics.
Ritual Practices in Congregational Identity Formation investigates the educational roles of ritual practices in the process of congregational identity formation. Son identifies and analyzes various kinds of Christian rituals with respect to how rituals influence the formational processes of a congregation’s identity. Based on Victor Turner’s ritual theory, this book also investigates the pedagogical and transformative efficacies of ritual practices within the dynamics of congregational education.
In this broad-ranging inquiry into ritual and its relation to place, Jonathan Z. Smith prepares the way for a new approach to the comparative study of religion. Smith stresses the importance of place—in particular, constructed ritual environments—to a proper understanding of the ways in which "empty" actions become rituals. He structures his argument around the territories of the Tjilpa aborigines in Australia and two sites in Jerusalem—the temple envisioned by Ezekiel and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The first of these locales—the focus of one of the more important contemporary theories of religious ritual—allows Smith to raise questions concerning the enterprise of comparison. His close examination of Eliade's influential interpretation of the Tjilpa tradition leads to a powerful critique of the approach to religion, myth, and ritual that begins with cosmology and the category of "The Sacred." In substance and in method, To Take Place represents a significant advance toward a theory of ritual. It is of great value not only to historians of religion and students of ritual, but to all, whether social scientists or humanists, who are concerned with the nature of place. "This book is extraordinarily stimulating in prompting one to think about the ways in which space, or place, is perceived, marked, and utilized religiously. . . . A provocative example of the application of humanistic geography to our understanding of what takes place in religion."—Dale Goldsmith, Interpretation