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September 18: The Centre Out There. Communitas, Liminality and the Turners Reading Rubenstein, Jeffrey. “Purim, Liminality, and Communitas.” AJS Review, 17, 2 (1992): pp. 247- 277 [E] and at http://hebrewjudaic.as.nyu.edu/docs/IO/2597/PurimLiminality.pdf • ◦ PURIM, LIMINALITY, AND COMMUNITASJEFFREY RUBENSTEINAR • Victor Turner studied the ritual and social processes that occurred during intervals(stages) in the normally structured state of society. • By social structure Turner means the matrix of roles, statues, and positions, governed by social phenomena such as law, custom, institution, and cultural tradition. • Normally social structure is hierarchal and characterized by differences in status, while social relationships are mediated by power and statue. • At certain times, however, the web of normal social relationships, the structural elements, appear to dissolve. • Society enters what Turner calls a "LIMINAL" time- a " betwixt and between" or threshold period. • NO LONGER DO POWER AND PRIVILEGE, STATUS AND ROLE, LAW AND INSTITUTION DETERMINE SOCIAL RELATEDNESS. (TRIP TO MECCA ALL MUSLIMS ARE PRAYING AS ONE) • Society enters a " time outside of time" where alternative modalities of social relatedness appear • The most common modality of social organization that takes place within liminality is COMMUNITAS • As opposed to societas, or structure, COMMUNITAS, is charactered by equality, immediacy, and the lack of social ranks and roles • A levelling process brings about the dissolution of structure, the absence of social distinctions, a homogenization of roles, the disappearance of political allegiance, the breakdown of regular borders and barriers • With the suspension of status distinctions human beings recognize the core humanity they share • Relationships are immediate and spontaneous • COMMUNITAS strives to release from daily obligations and requirements, and seeks universal openness • Whereas societies function to define the differences between individuals, limit their interaction, and pull them apart, COMMUNITAS serves to unify, bond, and transcend structural relationships • BY DOING SO, COMMUNITAS REMINDS SOCIETY THAT AT A DEEPER LEVEL ALL OF ITS MEMBERS ARE HUMAN AND EQUAL, DESPITE THE ACCEPTED SOCIAL AND HIERARCHAL DIFFERENCES. • Liminal periods generally manifest themselves in terms of Communitas, in some cases a oral status inversion occurs. • During ritually defined timed such as an initiation of a King or a season festival, the entire society may enter an overarching liminal mode, when statues, roles, and peer relationships are reversed. • Members of a society who ordinaryily occupy positions of inferior status assume dominant
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