Re: Mutilation as a legitimate object of inquiry

Mon, 15 Jul 1996 02:23:53 EDT

exclusively by the rigidity of its performance, and indeed there are
many examples of degraded rituals -- that is to say, those that used
to be encumbered by greater significance or associated observances and
solemnity. In the book 'The Day of Shining Red' it was appositely
remarked that, although no commonly accepted definition of ritual exists
amongst anthropologists, most what agree, upon observation, of what
was a ritual performance and what was not. There has, however, been a
strong tendency amongst anthropologsts to regard as ritual only what
occurs in a social context -- the concept of private rituals, although
not ignored, suffers neglect.
Punishment certainly used to be ritualised, and a cogent
argument could be made that it continues to be; however, the ritual has
been hidden away in bureaucratic procedure. I am very happy Daniel
Solomon mentioned Foucault's work, for 'Discipline and Punish' shows
that much of modern penality continues to b ritualised, although in a
much less overt form. I think many in the Occident would expect a ritual
to involve some sort of dancing and chanting and forget that much of what
occurs, the many rites of passage, are degraded rituals.

Best Regards,