RELIGST 2M03 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Ethnocentrism, Arnold Van Gennep, Ethnography

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Religious Studies 2M03 – Death and Dying: Mortuary Rituals
What is a Ritual?
- A repetitive, stylized act that happens at least on a semi-regular basis
oCan be secular and/or religious
oHeld at set times and places
oAll religions feature rituals
- Grimes notes that the contemporary views of rituals come from psychological and social effects
but it can also be a means of interacting with the ancestor realm, heaven, paradise, etc.
Secular and Everyday Rituals
- Many secular rituals involve “pomp” – grad, standing for national anthem, remembrance day
- Others are less fabulous – morning routine, brushing teeth, etc.
Mortuary Rituals:
- Antonius Robben
oMRs are a true cultural universal that show people’s resistance to accepting biological
death as a self-contained even, and their desire to prolong the departure from the dead
through a process of phased transitions
oUniversally speaking, people do not accept biological death as a self-contained death
oMR is used not funeral
oGrimes uses death rights to describe funerals
Uses ritual and right interchangeably
oMost cultural anthropologists say right to describe death culture
oRitual describe a specific act (Rite – from Latin word)
oRites are multiple acts – Roman Catholicism – Last Rites – anointing of oil, penance and
oRitual is the performance of Rites
- Cremation – ritual designed to do more than dispose the body
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