Victor Turner Bibliography Meaning

"Webliography" LI 804 Bibliography Project

Bibliography of Social Anthropological Theories of Ritual Meaning and Function

Sharon Morris

May 1996
Brian and Mary O'Connor

Scope This bibliography takes an academic focus on the studies of ritual by social anthropologists and the contemporary works they have influenced. For this project, ritual is defined as "formalized, socially prescribed symbolic behavior." (Robert H. Winthrop) The works provide a multi- cultural, historical perspective of the study of rituals. In studying rituals, the authors explore the meaning, function and significance of ritual in hopes of understanding both human nature and the individual identity. Beginning with a reference section, this bibliography includes seminal works by social anthropologists, a contemporary theoretical section, as well as sections on works in the two main "non-religious" areas of ritual: the rites of passage and ritual ceremonies. Some of the works are academic, while others are more popular reading. The combination of the works provide a broad view of ritual studies including works published from 1909-1995 that emphasize various cultures and time periods. Originally, I sought to find works on ritual and libraries. However my findings led me to works of social anthropology, in particular, the works of Arnold van Gennep and Victor Turner. The prevalence of these two people and the intriguing theories they present led me to focus on that area. Domain I began this project by thinking about ritual and its significance in information transfer. My search for a narrower topic than "ritual and information" involved browsing to see what was available. I started in book stores by browsing any non-religious sections such as sociology, business, education and psychology. Only one book in about one hundred listed ritual in the index. Next, I asked students, former students, professors and friends about what they thought of when I mentioned ritual. At the same time, I was searching the World Wide Wed, magazine databases and the databases of the Denver Public Library, Auraria, University of Denver (DU), and the University of Colorado (CU). My searches included key works such as "ritual" with "information, libraries, community, knowledge, communication and social aspects." The article, "The Ritual of Information in Academic Libraries" was one of my first findings. The article was perfect, but I found no other works on ritual use of libraries, rituals within library structures or ritual use of information. Looking at the bibliography of the article, I found both Arnold van Gennep and Victor Turner listed. This was the first of several such mentions of these two influential ritual theorists. Grazing the stacks at the Denver Public Library, I found several works that listed these two in their bibliographies, but neither book was available at the public library. I found both works at DU along with several other useful books. Still thinking of narrowing the topic and gearing it toward libraries, I wrote to Nancy Thomas. She sent me a variety of names including Erving Goffman. After looking at my options and interests, I decided to stick with the van Gennep and Turner focus and thought of narrowing it to initiation rites of puberty in various cultures. A visit to the Auraria library lead me to books of graphic, gruesome stories of rites of passage in various African tribes. I had difficulty getting through the material and decided to stick with the theoretical nature of ritual study. My subject was narrowed by my own interest and what others told me was interesting to them about the subject. I decided to focus on works of social anthropological study and grazed several key sections of the library. If I ruled out a book, I would consult the bibliography for other sources before returning it. Because of the intellectual nature of the search, it took me a long time to get through some of the more esoteric works. I even stumbled across books on ritual written by a former college friend and philosophy professor. However, it was too esoteric to include in my bibliography. With new search words: "rites of passage, rites and ceremonies and initiation," I found more contemporary works that reference van Gennep and/or Turner. I searched the social science index, magazine index and IAC looking for current articles and found nothing that fit the parameters of the bibliography. I checked the World Wide Web and World Cat and found little else. My main sources of information were from bibliographies in books about ritual. By grazing in chosen areas of the libraries, I would stumble on books and choose materials that: * focused on the rites of passage and ritual celebrations in a communities, * had a broad range of cultures represented in their studies of ritual, *developed significant theories of the meaning and function of ritual. This broad scope provided a perspective on the study of ritual over the 20th century mainly by anthropologists. I began this project knowing little about the subject so a lot of my energy was used in understanding the theories and abstracting them. I learned a lot about myself by watching how I worked on this project. I am the most stressed out when I cannot conceptualize the project I am working on. I kept reading about ritual and thinking about the kind of paper I could write. I wanted to consolidate and add my own theory instead of accurately represent others. When I talked with others about what I had found, they would come up with theories and paths of study, too. Ultimately I had to rely on the limited material written about ritual as the guide to this bibliography. I learned a lot of searching resources as well. I work in a children's library and have put together several bibliographies on children's books. So I really felt that I challenged myself by doing this academic piece and exploring several university libraries on-line and in person. I realize I have a lot more to learn about search tool, but I am more adept after this project. The User 1. This bibliography includes many academic works and is designed for the university student studying social anthropology, philosophy, sociology or ritual studies. 2. This bibliography can be used by a librarian in an academic library. The descriptions of each each of the books are designed to be detailed enough for the librarian to get a clear understanding of the area of ritual studies in social anthropology simply by reading the bibliography. The structure includes a guide indicating the books appropriate for the academic and those appropriate for the lay reader. 3. There are books included in the bibliography that are written for a more general, popular audience. Thus, the bibliography can be useful to library customers interested in dabbling in ritual studies, multi-cultural issues or personal identity. Organization The bibliography is divided into five sections: 1. A reference section of surveys in social anthropological studies. 2. A section of seminal works listed. 3. A look at contemporary perspectives of ritual studies. 4. A section of works on rites of passage and initiations. 5. A section of works on ceremonial rituals. The reference section is organized with the most current item first. The rest of the bibliography is listed chronologically within each section. This provides a historical perspective on the materials. The works are chosen to form a broad range of ritual studies including works published from 1908-1995 with emphasis on works with various cultures represented in each book. The bibliography includes works that fit into one or more of the following categories: *Provides a historical, theoretical perspective of social anthropological studies of ritual. *Develops a theory of the function or meaning of ritual within various cultures. *Illustrates a wide range of rituals from a various cultures. *Views rituals in terms of rites of passage (initiation or celebration) as defined by Arnold van Gennep and Victor Turner (see bibliography.) The works not chosen were those that focused on: *the religious significance of rituals, *the symbolic significance of rituals, *the communicative significance of rituals, *the mythological significance of rituals, *the rebellion against imposed rituals or *one specific culture or community. A suggested reading list at the end of the bibliography provides sources for exploring these other theoretical areas of ritual. Many of the works stem from the theoretical notions of Arnold van Gennep and Victor Turner. For this reason, I chose to provide a seminal works section of the two most cited works of these men. The section of contemporary studies in ritual includes the theory of biological influence on rituals, pluralism and ritual and the need for ritual in industrialized countries. The works have been chosen to provide a broad multi-discipline view of ritual theories published within the last 25 years. This bibliography is largely based on van Gennep's theories of the purpose of rituals. He wrote that rituals are important in providing humans with sacred connections during turbulent times of passage in their lives. The stress or "life-crisis" of moving from one stage to the next, either individually as from childhood to adolescence or collectively as with the changing of the seasons, is lessened by the ritualistic process assigned to that passage. These notions of rites of passage and celebrations are addressed by the works in the final two sections. Each work is listed with the following information: *an authority, including author notes when available, *the reason I chose to put it in the bibliography (how it fits), *a description of the work (content and structure), *and a brief suggestion of the appropriate reader for the book. Along with this is a symbol marking the relative difficulty or accessibility of the work. ( = a popular work for a general audience. ( = somewhat theoretical and academic in nature yet of interest to many. ( = an academic work designed for the scholar of social anthropology. In searching for reviews of these books, I looked in Book Review Index, Book Review Digest and First Search. I did not find any. Bibliography of Social Anthropological Theories of Ritual Meaning and Function Reference Materials Winthrop, Robert H. 1991. Dictionary of Concepts in Cultural Anthropology, p. 242-255. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ( This is a reference guide for students of social anthropology. I selected it for this project because it has concise definitions, a general overview of the field and a guide to finding more information on specific theorists and works. The definitions include sections on ritual and rites of passage. Each section includes clear, concise definitions, a historical perspective, and bibliographic information on the fields of study. The ritual section includes definitions from various theories of study including functionalism, phenomenology, and symbolic, performance study. Doty, William G. 1986. Mythography: The Study of Myths and Rituals. Alabama: University of Alabama Press. ( This is an excellent reference tool for researching the study of myths and rituals. For the sections on ritual, the historical perspective on social anthropological work on ritual, and the bibliographic resources, I am including it in the bibliography. Mythography provides analysis and descriptions of modern academic approaches to myths and rituals. The author includes a historical survey of the study of myths and rituals. This is intended to be a multi- disciplinary survey of works in the English language on myths and rituals. The main objects are to understand the study of ritual and myth by looking at the social context, psychological aspects, literary/performative aspects, structural aspects and other interpretive matters. The author summarizes the works of Victor Turner, provides a bibliography of studies of ritual and lists bibliographies of ritual studies. The book is structured with the historical perspective in a primarily chronological order. Bibliographic resources are included at the end of each section as well as at the end of the book. There are extensive lists of bibliographic resources and recommendations, references, notes, and author and subject indexes. Grimes, Ronald L. 1982. Beginnings in Ritual Studies. Washington, DC: University Press of America. ( This book is included as a reference tool because of its summary of the theories of ritual, in particular the works of Victor Turner. Ronald L. Grimes is one of the current scholars in "ritual studies." His works attempt to bring together the various aspects of ritual studies in anthropology, religious studies and others to come to an understanding of the meanings of rituals. His view of ritual includes the idea that the people and animals in ritual both enact and embody meaning in that society. The author takes a wide look at ritual studies to pull together multiple points of view. In a series of fifteen essays, Grimes examines the concept of ritual from various perspectives including ritual space, objects, time, sound and language and the identity of actors and actions. He discusses the field of ritual studies, Ritual processes and theories of ritual and ritual and theater. The work has extensive notes, a bibliography and index. I found the text some what poorly written but the summary of Victor Turner makes it worth listing in this bibliography. Seminal Works Gennep, Arnold van. 1960. Rites of Passage. (Trans. by Monika B. Vizedom and Gabrielle L. Caffee.) Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ( This book was chosen for this project because of it's profound impact on the study of ritual in the Twentieth Century. It is a seminal work in ritual and the author's ideas are expanded upon by many other selections included in this bibliography. Originally written in French in 1908, the translation has broadened the author's theories to other fields of study over the last 35 years. Arnold van Gennep (1873-1957) was the first anthropologist to note the regularity and significance of the rituals attached to the transitional stages in the life of humans, and his phrase for these, "the rites of passage," has become a part of the language of anthropology and sociology. His book, Rites of Passage not only changed the way anthropologists thought of ritual, but has worked its way into popular cultural beliefs and language. Several of the titles included in this bibliography cite van Gennep's Rites of Passage. In the book, Van Gennep states that rites, studied and analyzed in the larger setting of the cultures they pertained to, could illuminate our knowledge of the culture as well as provide understanding of more general processes of cultural evolution. Birth, puberty, marriage, and death are, in all cultures, marked by ceremonies which may differ in detail but are universal in function. Each transition, or "life-crisis" includes ceremonies of "the rites of passage." Van Gennep's distinguished three major phases within the process of the "life crisis" transition: separation (separation), transition (marge), and incorporation (agregation). His theory is that rituals serve as a means of passing gently through the crisis of separation from the old, transition and the incorporation of the next passage of life. Van Gennep includes examples from Africa, India, Australia, the Polynesia, Native American tribes and others in his description of the rites of passage in various cultures. Community passages such as the change of seasons are included along with the individual transitions such as those mentioned above. When it was originally published in 1908, it was more respected for it's extensive footnotes and references to other studies of cultures. The translation includes an introduction that addresses the major thoughts of the time of the author, as well as the impact of the work. The translators provide information on the translation process including detailed description of footnote updates. The book is academic in spirit yet written in a clear, readable way. It would be excellent for a graduate level student seeking background on rituals and their meanings. It is important to note that many of the examples of "primitive" cultures are no longer accurate so the content needs to be viewed from a historical perspective. Turner, Victor. 1969. The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company. ( This is seminal work in the field of ritual study in social anthropology. Turner's influence on the study of ritual is great and is cited more often in works than any other I have seen. I chose to include this particular book because of the theories of ritual and their impact on social anthropologists. Victor Turner is the chief theorist in recent times to emphasize the transformative role that rituals play in societies. One of the most prolific writers in the field of ritual studies in social anthropology, his works include theories that extend van Gennep's rites of passage, theories of ritual performance and ceremony. His ideas have influenced academic study of ritual in several disciplines. The Ritual Process describes Turner's findings and developed theories while doing fieldwork for two and a half years with the Ndembu tribe of Northwestern Zambia. As a social anthropologist, he studied ritual to discover meaning. In his introduction, Turner quotes Monica Wilson (1954) to explain the purpose of studying ritual. "Rituals reveal values at their deepest express in ritual what moves them most, and since the form of expressions is conventionalized and obligatory, it is the values of the group that are revealed. I see in the study of rituals the way to an understanding of the essential constitution of human societies." p. 241 He expands van Gennep's theories of the ritual process of separation, transition and incorporation. Turner uses the study of tribal rituals to examine the transition or "liminal" period of passage and the spontaneous development of "communitas" or specific communities of commonality that develop. The Ritual Process consists of five chapters, an index and bibliography. Though the language and stories are clear, concise and interesting. Yet, the book is primarily theoretical. It is fascinating in its search for meaning. Contemporary Theories of Ritual Fontaine, J. S. La, Editor. 1972. The Interpretation of Ritual: Essays in Honour of A.I. Richards. London, England: Tavistock Publications Limited. ( This book was chosen for the bibliography for it's scholarly works on ritual and the varied examples of cultures and rituals. It also provides a historical perspective on anthropological studies of ritual in Europe. Audrey Richard's principle works spanned over 30 years, from 1932- 1969. One of the first female social anthropologists working in Africa, she was a prolific writer of articles on ritual. The contributors to this collection are all social anthropologists who have been influenced by her work. The eleven essays in this volume reference Chisungu, a study of girls' initiation ritual among the Bemba (Richards, 1956). The essays include the ritual of greeting, wedding rituals and the process of changing rituals to include other cultural beliefs. The essays include studies of several African nations, as well as conventional European rituals. The works are academic and provide quite a lot of information on various social rituals. The Book consists of an introduction explaining the works and influence of A.I. Richards, end notes and references at the end of each essay, a bibliography of A. I. Richards' principal works and an index. d'Aquili, Eugene G., Charles D. Laughlin, Jr., John McManus with Tom Burns, Barbara Lex, G. Ronald Murphy, S.J., and W. John Smith. 1979. The Spectrum of Ritual: A Biogenetic Structural Analysis. New York: Columbia University Press. ( This book was chosen for this bibliography because of the biological theories of ritual. It provides a multi-disciplinary, biological perspective that is not often found in ritual studies. The authors of this book are professors of various disciplines working together to advance their theories of biological and evolutionary perspectives in anthropological studies. This multi-disciplinary work addresses the principles underlying ritual from a biological and evolutionary perspective. The biogenetic structural theory of human ritual behavior, they claim, accounts for several aspects of ritual including: *The full range of ritual behavior in humans. *The universality of ritual behavior among human societies. *Certain universal functions of ritual behavior among human societies. *Several links between individual neurophysiological and cognitive systems and ritual behavior at the social level. *The systematic principles underlying ritual behavior in humans and other creatures. The authors explore, explain and elaborate on the aspects of ritual behavior to understand the origin and function of rituals in human society. The first and last chapters extend the theory and present the formal methodology of biogenetic structuralism in general. Chapters two-ten apply the methodology in the analysis of ritual behavior. Students of ritual would be most interested in the middle section, beginning with a general discussion of the animal kingdom and ending with a specific human ceremonial ritual, the Roman Mass. Topics cover ritual behavior in communication in organic systems, the operation of rituals among higher mammals and human rituals of myth, social functions, individual rites of passage, ceremonies and functions to express/relieve economic stress. The book has an extensive author and subject indexes with bibliographies at the end of each chapter. It is for the academic. Grimes, Ron, Editor. Winter, 1987-Summer 1993. Journal of Ritual Studies. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh, Department of Religious Studies. ( This scholarly journal is an important addition to this bibliography because it provides works on ritual from a variety of perspectives. It has a somewhat more spontaneous quality than books. The editor of the journal has written extensively on study of ritual and has a wide interest beyond the religious significance of ritual. He is of a school of theory that claims to have coined the phrase "ritual studies." The Journal of Ritual Studies publishes scholarly research on ritual. Contributors represent various disciplines including religious studies, anthropology, sociology, psychology, performance studies, history, philosophy, art, music, dance and education. The primary purpose of this publication is to encourage collaboration among scholars from these and other disciplines on the topic of ritual and its allied subtopics. Articles vary from the theoretical to the descriptive. A wide range of aspects of ritual are considered. This is a valuable resource for ritual study. Each issue includes articles, book reviews and a reader's forum. The articles vary from the esoteric to the easily understood. This would provide the beginning student with a varied perspective of ritual studies. Coppet, Daniel de. 1992. Understanding Rituals. New York: Routledge, Chapman and Hall Inc. ( This book is included in the bibliography because it provides a contemporary European perspective on ritual studies in anthropology. The list of contributors also assists in following some of the current European researchers in the field. This volume contains the six contributions prepared for the panel "Understanding ritual," which met at Coimbra on September 2, 1990. This panel was part of the first conference on the European Association of Social Anthropologists. These social anthropologists seek to redefine old notions of ritual and incorporate the works of other fields of discipline. The editor has included a biographical list of contributors and name and subject indexes. Each work has extensive notes and a bibliography. Because of the theoretical base needed to comprehend this book, it is best served to the advanced student in rituals studies in social anthropology. Driver, Tom F. 1991. The Magic of Ritual: Our Need for Liberating Rites that Transform Our Lives and Our Communities. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. ( This book is included in the bibliography because of the variety of cultures represented as well as the contemporary theory of the need for ritual in the United States. Driver expresses a need for ritual in our society. By describing ritual ceremonies from Haiti, Papua New Guinea, Japan, Turkey, Korea and other locales, Drive approaches ritual as performance. He defines performance as an action that has unique effectiveness and often expresses more than words can. Rituals, he contends, are necessary for cohesion and transformation of cultures and societies, in that rituals make and maintain order, deepen and strengthen communal bonds and allow for personal and social transformation. To be fully alive, Driver contends, humans must engage creatively in ritual performance including Rites of Passage, ceremonies to heal, grief and celebrate and political performances aimed at changing society. This book is based heavily on the works of Victor Turner and has a religious tone. It is accessible to any adult interested in ritual. It is not as academic as most on the list. Some, Malidoma Patrice. 1993. Ritual: Power, Healing and Community. Portland, OR: Swan, Raven & Company. ( This book is chosen because it is written by an African about his rituals and culture. It is common to find many books on rituals of African tribes but rare to find one written by someone of that culture. The work is autobiographical and philosophical. The personal approach make it more readable and less academic than many other works on this bibliography. Malidoma Some was raised in a village in Burkina Faso, West Africa. He is initiated in the ancestral tribal traditions, and is a medicine man and diviner in the Dagara culture. He holds three master's degrees and two Ph.D. degrees from the Sorbonne and Brandeis University. He has taught at the University of Michigan and lectures on the need for ritual in America. This book includes autobiographical stories of the author's youth in the West African village of Burkina Faso. He compares the ritual and sacred ceremonies of his youth with those of the western world. He describes the western world as being run by an "energy draining machine." He offers lessons in ancient ritual as a way for westerners to reconnect with their true selves. He also theorizes about the dimensions of ritual: community rituals, family rituals and individual rituals. He notes that these areas of ritual are interconnected in that they impact and influence each other. Some talks of ritual spaces, the sacred nature of ritual, and the presupposition of a purpose or goal necessary for the ritual. Another idea he sets forth is that "a community that doesn't have a ritual cannot exist. A corporate community is not a community. It's a conglomeration of individuals in the service of an insatiable soulless entity." This work is very accessible to the non-scholar interested in theories of ritual from an African perspective. It has a singular perspective and is designed for those seeking spiritual meaning in their lives. Platvoet, Jan and Karel Van Der Toorn, Editors. 1995. Pluralism and Identity: Studies in Ritual Behaviour. Leiden, The Netherlands: E.J. Brill. ( This work puts ritual studies into a practical context. The understanding of rituals and how rituals develop and co-exist in a plural society is salient because of the many religious tensions in the world. The idea of pluralist societies is gaining more ground academically in our global environment. The editors have compiled papers presented at an international conference in Leiden University on January 14-15, 1995. Except for Prof. Joseph Sadan, of Tel Aviv University and Prof. Andre Droogers, of the Free University at Amsterdam, all the presenters were members of an inter- university research group, based in Leiden since 1992. It was established in order to study the role of religions in situations of religious pluralism. The contributors study ritual in religions and the response one community has to another's rituals and beliefs. The studies focus on establishing in what manner religions respond to the presence of other religions in the societies, in ancient as well as in modern times. There are three sections to this work. The first section is mainly theoretical in nature on ritual theory, on conditions under which a group feels strong, weak or no need to demarcate itself from other groups and on a model for the study of interaction among religions in a plural society. The second section includes three descriptive essays dealing, wholly or in part, with the ritualization of the encounter between religions. The third section contains five papers that deal with process of internal change in religions in response to the situation of religious plurality, internal and external. One focuses on an ancient Israelite religion; the other four are islamological papers. The book contains 14 papers, an introduction, subject and author indexes and bibliography of recent works on the subject. Each paper has extensive notes and a bibliography. This book is best suited for the scholar in ritual and religion. Initiation/Rites of Passage (Arnold van Gennep. 1960. Rites of Passage. (Trans. by Monika B. Vizedom and Gabrielle L. Caffee.) Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Eliade, Mircea. 1958. Rites and Symbols of Initiation: The Mysteries of Birth and Rebirth. New York: Harper and Brothers. ( This book has been very influential in current studies of rites of passage in the United States. Along with van Gennep and Turner, Eliade's works are cited frequently in current works of initiation. The author, a French social anthropologist, based this book on the Haskell Lectures delivered at the University of Chicago in 1956. Analyzing initiation in primitive cultures, Eliade argues that these societies understand puberty rites and various specialized initiations in terms of supernatural or transcendent models revealed to them by their mythical ancestors or by supernatural beings. The basic initiation symbolism is one of death and rebirth or resurrection, the necessity of dying to the old in order to be born to the new. In the various initiations, traditional religious societies believe that they are recapturing their sacred history and are being spiritually regenerated. Eliade states that "initiation lies at the core of any genuine human life" and that "in the modern Western world significant initiation is practically nonexistent." The author suggests that the "modern" human beings, without the traditional rites and symbols of initiation, cannot deal adequately with their existential crisis. This academic work is for the ritual scholar. I was not able to obtain an English copy of the text for further analysis. (Turner, Victor. 1969. The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company. Fried, Martha Nemes and Morton H. Fried. 1980. Transitions: Four Rituals in Eight Cultures. New York: Norton & Company. ( This book is included in the bibliography because of the various cultures represented within the context of rites of passage. It is a fascinating work. The authors have lived and studied social anthropology in a variety of cultures and have a familiar approach to the cultures. Drawing upon van Gennep's Rites of Passage, this book looks at four transitions: birth, puberty, marriage and death and the rituals of these transitions in eight cultures. The rituals are framed in a larger context of the individual's life and are fascinating to read. The five primary cultures described are: the nomadic !Kung of south and southwest Africa, the Muslim Hausa of present day Nigeria, the Tlingit Native American tribe living on the southern Alaska coast, the Tikopia tribe living on one of the western most islands of Polynesia and the Taiwanese. In addition, the authors include information from three "socialist" countries: Cuba, China and the (then) Soviet Union. * See Seminal Works section. The authors include extensive notes, a bibliography and index. This is an academic text but may also appeal to the casual student of ritual. Carus Mahdi, Louise, Steven Foster and Meredith Little, Editors. 1987. Betwixt and Between: Patterns of Masculine and Feminine Initiation. La Salle, IL: Open Court. ( This book is included in the bibliography because it is an accessible study of the anthropological theories of the rites of passage combined with the contemporary common initiation rituals in a variety of societies, including the United States. The introduction, by Victor Turner, summarizes van Gennep's theory of the rites of passage and sets the reader on a clear course for understanding the essays. This work is a collection of essays on the passages of life and the importance of ritual. The contributors use the term initiation to describe a times of transition in a person's life. The essays include work on the initiation of youth in puberty including curriculum changes to include vision quest initiation activities. Sections on male and female initiation are included as well as personal initiation, and the initiation of old age and dying. A final section includes works on the comparison of initiations today with those of ancient times. The works are about various cultures and from various perspectives including the initiation process of Huck Finn, a Vietnamese Buddhist Nun and the use of dream interpretation in ritual initiation processes. The editors chose an interdisciplinary approach to show the importance of initiation rituals for both the individual and the society. This book includes introductory notes on each essay and it's author. It is quite accessible to anyone interested in ritual and initiation. Ritual and Celebrations Deegan, Mary Jo. 1980. American Ritual Dramas: Social Rules and Cultural Meanings. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press. ( This book is included in the bibliography for its perspective on modern American cultural rituals. The author, at the time of writing, was an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her interests include women in sociology and ritual and play. The process of everyday life is examine as a living process created through our use of a complex web of social rules and cultural meanings. The book explores the social construction of American life by analyzing community rules for ritual celebration. Through the use of the dramatic metaphor, often used in ritual analysis, the book examine the roles Americans play, the language used and the rules followed when they are having fun. Critical inquiry into the social rituals of "fun" and "good times" reveals that they are paradoxically liberating and restrictive at the same time. The author uses data of singles bars, sporting events, television and movies to explicate the points of structural weakness in our present ritual patterns. She believes that by understanding these rituals, Americans may re-create their rituals and discover alternative patterns to generate far greater community playfulness and meaning than is enjoyed now. This book is based heavily on the works of Erving Goffman and Victor Turner. It includes a bibliography and index. I recommended it for the beginning student in sociology or ritual interested in the American or play aspects of ritual. Turner, Victor, Editor. 1982. Celebration: Studies in Festivity and Ritual. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institute Press. ( The work is included, along with another about a Smithsonian exhibit, to display the contemporary perspective of ritual studies and how they are represented to the larger public. Victor Turner, the major contemporary ritual theorist of the time complied this collection of essays based on the celebratory objects of the Smithsonian collection. The essays were written to complement the exhibit of beautiful ritual objects on display, Yet, the works stand alone. The Smithsonian staff contend that ceremonial objects reflect ceremonies and people who enacted the ritual ceremonies. There are five sections in the book. *Material components of celebration and description of those objects. *Description of Rites of passage from various cultures. *Descriptions of language of festivals. celebrating the seasons and economy *Descriptions of religious ceremonies. *Descriptions of sociation and sociability of political celebrations. These essays are expansive including cultures throughout the world and in the United States. There is a forward by the Smithsonian staff, and introduction by Turner and bibliographic information at the end of each paper. An index is included. This book is recommend for anyone interested in anthropology and ritual. It has a wide appeal. Office of Folklife Programs and the Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art. 1982. Celebration: A World of Art and Ritual. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. ( This book is included in the ritual bibliography because it represents contemporary perspectives of ritual in ceremony with beautiful photographs and easily accessible notations. This is a companion piece to the above or can be viewed alone. It is a fascinating look at ritual and ritual objects owned by the Smithsonian Institute. Large black and white photographs of the exhibit pieces are accompanied by detailed descriptions of the pieces. The objects span many cultures and generations including modern American ritual objects. The oversized book includes a foreword, a section about the exhibit, an introduction by Victor Turner, a section of colorplates and a catalogue of the exhibition. There is no index or bibliography. This is recommended to anyone interested in ritual objects, art and anthropology. Frese, Pamela R., Editor. 1993. Celebrations of Identity: Multiple Voices in American Ritual Performances. Westport, CT: Bergin and Garvey. ( This work is included in the bibliography because it represents anthropologists looking at American rituals from a multi-cultural perspective. Celebrations of Identity is a collection of contemporary essays on American rituals. The editor challenges the traditional social anthropological practice of studying "primitive" cultures to discover ritual meaning. She contends that that approach leads to a dominant, superior European perspective. The editor seeks to represent a variety of ethnic groups and activities in order to redefine ritual as a way an individual finds identity within the community. Essays include: rituals of the Inupiat Indians of Alaska, the building of identity through ethnic festivals, a look at Protestant beliefs and rituals in the American south, rituals of testifying in the Black church, Powwows of the Waccamaw Sioux and the inauguration of the president of the United States. The book includes an introduction, index and bibliographies at the end of each paper. It is academic yet interesting to the non-academic student. It is recommended for those seeking a multi-cultural perspective of American ritual. Teish, Luisah. 1994. Carnival of the Spirit: Seasonal Celebrations and Rites of Passage. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. ( Although this is more popular storytelling than academic study, this book is included in this bibliography because of the wide range of cultures and rites it explores. It remains in the spirit of the above works on ritual and meaning. An African-American storyteller explores world holidays and celebrations of the change of seasons. Her book covers a many cultures and activities including the Lily Festival in Japan, the Yam Festival in West Africa, Marti Gras in New Orleans, traditional European holidays and sacred African rituals. The focus of this book is to explore the daily use of ritual to celebrate nature, community and life. The author uses a personal, storytelling approach. I would recommend this book as an introduction to the non-scholarly reader. The storytelling approach appeals to a general readership. Amberston, Celu (Cornwoman). 1995. Deepening the Power: Community Ritual and Sacred Theatre. Victoria, BC: Beach Holme Publishing Limited. ( This book, on the surface, appears to be another self-help, new age book. However, the author, a student of anthropology, represents both the Native American and Celtic cultures in her study of ritual. I am including it in the bibliography because of the author's unique training as well as the detailed plan for conducting ritual celebrations and sacred theater. This is also the only representation on the bibliography of Pagan rituals. Of Cherokee and Celtic descent, the author is an experienced ceremonialist and combines Wicca and Native shamanism in her work. Her background in anthropological studies adds some validity to her theories and practices. The author, a "teacher and practicing Pagan ceremonialist" provides a detailed plan for conducting ritual celebrations and sacred theater within a community. Beginning with a loosely structured section on the meaning and power of ancient Pagan rituals, the author explains the relevance of these rituals for the present day. The second section includes detailed descriptions of the seven steps of the Pagan ceremonial rituals. The third section deals primarily with sacred theater and includes short plays for male and female rites of passage ceremonies. This work is a blend of practical instruction on Pagan ceremonies to attain greater spiritual fulfillment in our society. This book is designed, not for the scholar, but for those interested in creating ritual ceremonies of their own. It's focus on Pagan rituals also makes it a work for those interested in Pagan worship. Gutierrez, Roman A. and Genevieve Fabre, Editors. 1995. Feasts and Celebrations in North American Ethnic Communities. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. ( This work is included in the bibliography because it is a scholarly study of North American ritual celebrations of various ethnic groups. Originally a symposium of the same name was presented at the University of Paris in 1989. This book includes selections from the conference and is an interdisciplinary approach that examines rituals of African Americans, Haitians, Cubans, West Indians, Mexican Americans, Chicanos, Filipinos, Puerto Ricans, Cambodians, Laotians, Asian Americans, and Angle Americans living primarily in the United States. The book is organized into three sections, each focusing on various aspects of the relationships between celebrations and ethnic communities in the United States. The first section, "Colonialism and Festival: The Art of Resistance," examines a set of rituals and celebrations initially introduced into what is now the United States during colonial times. The second section explores "Rituals of Renewal and Return." By traveling to a distant sacred site, by cooking special foods associated with a particular deity or saint, or by enacting ritual performances precisely, the sacred is conjured. In this way, the individual is rejuvenated and restores his place in the community. The final section of the anthology, "Celebrations and the Creation of Identities," illustrates celebrations of cultural identification, ethnic, national and pan-ethnic. Focus is on a multi- cultural perspective in order to understand some of the lesser known ceremonies and rituals of ethnic communities. The book has a list of contributors with biographical information, an index and notes and references at the end of each essay. It is a fascinating perspective on the ethnic history of celebrations and festival. I would recommend it to those studying ritual as well as those interested in multi-cultural studies in North America. Suggested reading in other areas of the study of ritual Campbell, Joseph. 1972, Myths to Live By. New York: Bantam Books. ( Theories of ritual in myths. Durkheim, Emile. 1915. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. Tran. J.W. Swain. 1956. Glencoe, IL: Free Press. ( A seminal work in the field of the religious studies of symbolism and ritual. Goffman, Erving. 1967. Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior. Chicago: Aldine Publication Company. ( A seminal work on communication as ritual performance. Levi-Strauss, Claude. 1960 (1967). The Scope of Anthropology. Sherry Ortner Paul and Robert Paul, trans. London, England: Jonathan Cape. ( The leading structuralist in ritual studies synthesizes the field of ritual and symbolism. Plum, Terry. Summer 1994. "Academic Libraries and the Rituals of Knowledge." RQ 33, no.4, p. 496-508. ( A look at ritual in the context of academic libraries with attention to the theories of Arnold van Gennep and Victor Turner.

For other people named Victor Turner, see Victor Turner (disambiguation).

Victor Witter Turner (28 May 1920 – 18 December 1983) was a Britishcultural anthropologist best known for his work on symbols, rituals and rites of passage. His work, along with that of Clifford Geertz and others, is often referred to as symbolic and interpretive anthropology.

Early life[edit]

Victor Turner was born in Glasgow, Scotland, son to Norman and Violet Turner. His father was an electrical engineer and his mother a repertory actress who founded the Scottish National Players. Turner initially studied poetry and classics at the University College London. In 1941, Turner was drafted into World War II, and served as a noncombatant until 1944. During his three years of service he met and married Edith Turner; their children include scientist Robert Turner, poet Frederick Turner, and Goucher College anthropology professor Rory Turner. He returned to University College in 1946 with a new focus on anthropology. He later pursued graduate studies in anthropology at Manchester University.[1][2]


Turner worked as research officer for the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute. It was through the position that Turner started his lifelong study of the Ndembu tribe of Zambia. He completed his PhD in 1955. Like many of the Manchester anthropologists of his time, he also became concerned with conflict, and created 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, 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 1958.[3][4]

Turner explored Arnold van Gennep's threefold structure of rites of passage and expanding theories on the liminal phase. Van Gennep's structure consisted of a pre-liminal phase (separation), a liminal phase (transition), and a post-liminal phase (reincorporation). Turner noted that in liminality, the 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.[2]

Turner was also a committed ethnographer and produced work on ritual. [example needed]


Turner died on 18 December 1983 in Charlottesville, Virginia. 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.[5]


Author Chuck Palahniuk was quoted in The Believer as saying, "So often what I’m doing is dramatizing the writings of Victor Turner, who wrote a lot about liminal and liminoid events."[6]


  • The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual (1967), Cornell University Press 1970 paperback: ISBN 0-8014-9101-0
  • Schism and Continuity in an African Society (1968), Manchester University Press
  • The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure (1969), Aldine Transaction 1995 paperback: ISBN 0-202-01190-9
  • Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society (1974), Cornell University Press 1975 paperback: ISBN 0-8014-9151-7
  • Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture (1978), Edith L. B. Turner (coauthor), Columbia University Press 1995 paperback: ISBN 0-231-04287-6
  • From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play (1982), PAJ Publications paperback: ISBN 0-933826-17-6
  • Liminality, Kabbalah, and the Media (1985), Academic Press
  • The Anthropology of Performance (1986), PAJ Publications paperback: ISBN 1-55554-001-5
  • The Anthropology of Experience (1986), University of Illinois Press 2001 paperback: ISBN 0-252-01249-6


External links[edit]

  • Babcock, Barbara A., & Macaloon, John J (January 1987), "Commemorative essay: Victor W. Turner (1920-1983)", Semiotica, 65 (1-2): 1–28, doi:10.1515/semi.1987.65.1-2.1, ISSN 1613-3692 
  • Graham St John (ed.) 2008. Victor Turner and Contemporary Cultural Performance. New York: Berghahn. ISBN 1-84545-462-6.
  • Victor Turner, by Beth Barrie
  • Deflem, Mathieu. 1991. "Ritual, Anti-Structure, and Religion: A Discussion of Victor Turner’s Processual Symbolic Analysis." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 30(1):1-25.
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