03 April 2016

Everyday rituals

There's a reason that Horace Miner's (1956) Body Ritual Among the Nacirema has become a classic text in introduction to anthropology classrooms. It provides a fantastic, immersive introduction to confronting students' ideas about exotic otherness and the power of representation in academic texts (plus, it's always fun to watch students grapple with the realization that the Nacirema are actually...!). It also provides a useful introduction to thinking about another classic concern in anthropology: ritual.

The issue of everyday rituals is also something that Josiah Harrist has addressed in this article for Kill Screen (2016). In this piece, Harrist takes an anthropological approach (citing Victor Turner) to thinking about table top gaming as a form of ritual that players engage as members of a closed cultural group in the context of the game play. Addressing rites of passage and rituals of purification, political power, harvest, and commemorative or calendrical rituals, this short piece offers useful insights for thinking about the role of ritual at multiple levels.

Another useful link for teaching Miner: