Posted by: manoagirl | May 29, 2009

Random Ritual Post

So today after watching the video on Sir Edmund Hillary’s death…I was surprised at how much of the understanding of various observations I did not catch (this kind of got me worried about the test). But looking at my notes after class, what I realized was that most if not all of the things I missed had to do with specifically New Zealand nationalistic things. Which made me think about just how much of many secular rituals, or just rituals in general are situated within the community that practices it (which also made me worry more about the test….). For instance, when we were discussing the individuals seated in the front row, I could tell that they were possibly officials of some sort, or important individuals by the way that they were dressed, but I also had NO idea who they were. I also did not recognize that the New Zealand national anthem was being sung/played during the ceremony, though I did recognize the significance of the flag and sincronized movement of the servicemen. It was further interesting to see just how much the historical or current events surrounding the ritual plays and important role in its meanings and significance to the participants. For example, I would have no way of knowing about the various party politics and other issues ocurring at the time of the funeral and so for me, the ritual had no significance in regards to those issues.

Posted by: manoagirl | May 22, 2009

Death

Philippe Aries’s analysis of death and death rituals over time and in different places was interesting, if not a little daunting at times. It was interesting to see how the changes in practices surrounding death corresponded to Bourdieu’s discussion of habitus, in the ways that the cultural understandings of death influence the way you react to it and also practice rituals such as funerals. For example, Aries shows that when death was conceptualized as disgusting, etc, it was denied and socially “removed to a distance” (261). This negative image of death was reinforced by practices that further emphasized a social distancing from death. This was done through the unmentionability of a dying persons condition, medicalization (which essentially strives to refuse a person to die). When someone transgresses this denial of death, others are made uncomfortable or find it distasteful.

As a side note, death rituals can be used as a way to make a statement or create emotion in the public by going against social denyal of death. One interesting way that I feel this was done, was in the case of Emmett Till in 1955. After he was brutally murdered, his funeral was used to create an outcry against racism and racial violence. His death and funeral became a public ritual in the sense that it was an open display (open casket, large funeral, public mourning, his mother speaking to press, etc).

Anyway, that’s all for today…the weather sucks 😦

Posted by: manoagirl | May 14, 2009

Packaged Japaneseness

Being of Japanese descent, I found Goldstein-Gidoni’s article from this week’s readings especially interesting. There is a picture in my living room at home of my mother in a traditional Japanese wedding kimono, though my father is in a normal black and white tux, which the photographs talked about in the reading reminded me of. For me the article made several important points:

1. It highlighted the fact that life crisis rituals are invented
2. They are used to create identity/tradition
3. In this case, they are the product of the influence of  industrial capitalism on Japanese society, life, and culture

The weddings are highly industrialized, capitalist rituals in that they adhere to a rigid time schedule and seek maximum efficiency. Further,Goldstein-Gidoni argues that many of the elements in the wedding ceremony are done for profit, such as the ceremonial cutting of the inedible wax wedding cake. Many of the aspects of the wedding are not parts of traditional Japanese wedding, but rather are later additions to a basic western style wedding. For example,Goldstein-Gidoni states that “although the Shinto ceremony is considered by the wedding parlour’s customers as part and parcel of the traditional-Japanese wedding, it did not become a standard part of the wedding until after World War II” (239). This clearly illustrates the invention of tradition involved with the life crisis ritual of weddings. Finally, the article strongly highlights that weddings in Japan seem to be a way to create a sense of “Japaneseness” in the wedding participants. This is achieved by creating traditions, such as the Shinto ceremony, and also dressing and photographing the family, and especially the bride, in traditional Japanese kimono. Additionally, this image of “Japaneseness” is infused with aspects of the western (American?) matrimonial ceremony. For example, cutting the cake, toasts, and flashy Western receptions.

While I didn’t necessarily agree with the tone the author used (I don’t know if it was just me, but they sounded kind of condescending at times) I did think that they made good points showing the invention of tradition associated with life crisis periods.

Side note…but whats with the weather today?!?!? Windy then Rainy and lighting and thundering then sunny then cloudy then rainy again…and all in the span of like…an hour…haha

Posted by: manoagirl | May 5, 2009

Initiation Rites

The readings for this week, especially the one about initiation rites among Portugues boys between the ages of 9 and 10, made me think about rites of initiation amongs young men in western societies. Being from the US, legal drinking age is 21 and so that is a big celebration. Despite this, I know that most people begin drinking far in advance of 21 years of age. I was talking to one of my friends about how when he and his friends first drank, they were in 9th grade, so like  13 or 14 years of age. He told me about how one of the friends stole some alcohol from a corner convenience store, then they drank it in a stranger’s garage and then went to the 9th grade dance that their school had. My friend said that not alot of kids drank then and so he and his friends made a big deal out of it and how they had to get past the cops at the front door and how the other kids at the dance were “blown away” that he and his friends were drunk.

This kind of reminds me of the danger and liminality that the boys in the Alves article experienced. My friend said that one of the guys he was with even saluted one of the cops at the door, but she smiled and let them in, probably because they were at that age where kids tend to act like that and adults kind of look past it. There were other similarities too. So I was just wondering if this could count as a rite of passage?

Posted by: manoagirl | April 26, 2009

ANZAC Day

Attending the ANZAC Day services was an interesting experience for me as a foreigner who had very little prior understanding of the day and its significance. I did some research into ANZAC Day before going out to observe in order to get an idea of what to expect. Based on the reading I did as well as the video, I expected a possibly very emotional ceremony, maybe formal, maybe not, that emphasized the “oneness” of the New Zealand people.

I didn’t attend the dawn ceremony, but I did go to the Service of Commemoration at Wellington Cathedral of St Paul. What I immediately noticed was that everyone present was wearing the red poppy pins that they had been handing out earlier that week. I was also struck by the general lack of Maori people present at the ceremony, in fact, there was a larger lack of the ethnic diversity that I feel makes up the New Zealand population of today. The ceremony was far more religious than I had expected. I was expecting a more military/secular structured ceremony. This also seemed to me a day to remember those who had sacrificed for New Zealand rather than a day to celebrate as most of the proceedings I witnessed were about loss. There was also, during the ceremony at the Cathedral, a prayer for justice and peace.

Anyway, I don’t know quite what I will be writitng about yet, but attending the ANZAC Day services was quite an interesting experience. I only wish that I had been able to make it to the National Ceremony on Buckle Street to see what it was like there and maybe get more observations.

Posted by: manoagirl | April 6, 2009

Ritual Analysis of AIDS Activism

One of the readings that I am doing for another paper talks about using Turner’s analysis of ritual process to look at HIV/AIDS activism and treatment experiences can produce new social subjects. The article is called “From ‘Rights’ to ‘Ritual’: AIDS Activism in South Africa”. I found it interesting since I remember at the beginning of our lectures, we talked about if surviving a car crash could count as a rite of passage. In this case, the author, Robins, considers the journey of a person with HIV/AIDS from “near death” and “bare life” to “new life” in which it is possible for the person living with HIV/AIDS (PWA) to be socially reintegrated and revitalized. In Robins’s article, he considers the separation stage of Turner’s rite of passage as the time when the PWA is subject to ostracization, isolation, stigmatization, and severe illness where the PWA may withdraw from social interaction and social spaces or may be condemned by the rest of society. For Robins, the liminal stage is then when the PWA accesses medical treatment or joins support groups such as Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and other treatment options. Robins considers this a period of liminality because the PWA’s health and future remain undecided as they could either get better or die. Further, by being part of groups such as TAC, they are in a system of communitas and support. Finally, reincorporation occurs when the person’s health improves both physically and psychologically. Robins also notes that the person may become integrated into TAC and gain access back into the community while also gaining new knowledge and sense of control over their disease.

I found this article interesting because it shows a way in which ritual analysis can be applied to other aspects of society to better understand them. In this case, looking at PWA’s transition as a rite of passage gives the HIV/AIDS sufferer agency and also highlights the ways in which these individuals are able to turn their situations into positive identities. This article also ties into how Kertzer talks about rituals as themselves political struggles and not just the vehicle of communication. The PWAs are empowered especially by their participation in the rite of passage associated with HIV/AIDS.

Posted by: manoagirl | March 24, 2009

Ritual talked about in Salient?!

I enjoy reading the Salient publication that we have on campus here; I especially enjoy reading the letters at the end. They’re always entertaining to read. But, recently I’ve just begun to notice this weird trend too. There’s a verbal battle going on between upper classmen (is that what you call them here?) and first years over “hating on first years”. I don’t know if its just me but this is really funny/interesting, since I haven’t really experienced this kind of thing since high school.

Anyway in two of the letters in this week’s issue, the authors describe the occurrences as “ritual initiation” and a “rite of passage” (rite was spelt wrong in the letter by the way), which got me thinking. Did we possibly talk about this in class? Well anyway, first year in university as a liminal period is an interesting thought. And it makes sense too. Before university, you have your group of friends, your established identity, and so forth. Then you hit uni and there is a lot of questioning that goes on. You are the hated on class; the exclusive “caste”, if you will, uniformly identified by your grade level. Further, many of first years change in personality, tastes, style, friend groups, etc; thus marking this as something of a period where they sort of lack an identity…? that might be stretching it… And then you move up a grade and become reincorporated into the “upper classmen” (or whatever you call it)…

So, this all made sense in my head…but it might be full of biases and assumptions and projections and much more of that sort…but that’s basically what I found especially interesting in my perusal of Salient after class today.

Posted by: manoagirl | March 22, 2009

Public Events

Hi,

(I’ve noticed that I start my posts with “So” alot…I’ll try to stop doing that…haha)

I decided to help me remember certain things from the lecture, I decided to write them down here…

Public Events:

  • Can occur at diff. levels of society
  • Usual/ordinary social behavior stops
  • Occur annually/multiple times per year
  • State/religious authorities modify/manipulate for their own means
  • In a sense, sacred, though not necessarily religious
  • Feeling of unquestionability
  • Involves the use of ritual objects (whose meanings are imposed upon them)
  • Sanctioned by some authority
  • Represents an ideal, not a reality
  • Can socialize people into certain roles (eg. Rites of Passage)
  • They can strengthen cohesion/unity by constructing a shared identity
  • They are an opportunity for change
  • Contestable
  • Affirmation of social values/serve as an opportunity to establish/display new ideologies
  • Could be a release valve for prohibited activity
  • Vehicle for social change/resistance

On a different note…I am slightly apprehensive of observing ANZAC Day…especially because I have no idea…or at least not a good one of what it is…and what it means to people…etc. (Time for some Wikipedia-ing!)

Peace

Posted by: manoagirl | March 18, 2009

Tangent

So I’m sitting here in the library procrastinating on wrting a tutorial preparation paper…yes, I am in fact guilty of partatking in the art of procrastination…and also feeling slightly conscience-stricken over those poor souls queuing for a computer when my mind wanders back to our lecture discussion over extended liminal periods in rituals.

From there my roaming mind jumped to a book I had read sometime in the past called “Among the Thugs”. The book is basically about the author who  spends a period of several years where he leaves his usual life ( I believe as some kind of food critic or food author) and becomes immersed in “football hooliganism” (note that by football the implied is soccer). I was just wondering if this could be a form of ritual or ritualized behavior overall since the author leaves his previous life, goes through a period of liminality (?) where he is attempting to become accepted into the football supporter group (he goes to matches, drinks, etc with them) but is subject to their suspicions and finally becomes accepted into the group of fans. Once accepted into the group he gains insights into their violent actions and when he eventually does leave, he is changed  in his mentality and outlook on “hooliganism”.

In addition, I was also thinking that the very interactions (often violent but also seeming to follow some kind of pattern) between fans of opposing football clubs might also count as a smaller more brief form of ritual within the whole system. The violence between clubs might seem strange to outsiders, just as New Zealand customs/ritual/behavior might seem strange to someone from the States, but it is a period of communitas for those involved. It also is categorized by “uniformed clothing” (fan paraphenalia, body paint, etc), foolishness, acceptance of pain and suffering and many of the other things we talked about as categorizing a liminal period. Further, it is followed up by a return to their normal lives and normal society.

Anyway, that was my tangent… I don’t even know if anyone has even read this book and thus would be able to comment…If anything, the book is AMAZING and I highly recommend it.

Peace

Posted by: manoagirl | March 16, 2009

Observation Edited

I slightly altered my observation project to encompass observing people at the waterfront near Te Papa at this seating area. I try to get down there at around 3:30ish just because that’s when I’m free…

I now encompass observing the kids jumping into the harbour in addition to the other various people sitting around/walking/running/etc. which is working out a lot better because I have more to observe.

Peace

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