• Remarks on Similarity in Ritual Classification: Affliction, Divination, and Object Animation

    Author(s):
    Sonia Silva (see profile)
    Date:
    2013
    Group(s):
    Anthropology, Religious Studies
    Subject(s):
    Comparative religion, History of religions, Ritual, Ritual studies
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Divination, essentialism, ritual classification, similarity, Wittgenstein
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M62574
    Abstract:
    n her article, Silva considers the significance of similarity and polythetic classification in ritual practice and ritual theory. Inspired by Wittgenstein’s concept of family resemblances and his descriptive method, and building on the work of R. Grimes, R. Needham, and, J. Z. Smith, Silva bring out the similarities among three different types of ritual in northwest Zambia, namely affliction rituals, divination rituals, and object animation rituals. She argues that affliction, divination and object animation are best perceived as thematic threads, rather than ritual types, and that those thematic threads recur in different ritual events in various combinations. In addition, further contributing to the polythetic turn in ritual classification, and ritual and religious studies more broadly, Silva argues that the tracing of similarities across different ritual categories achieves the same objective that J. Z. Smith and other scholars proclaim to attain with the disclosure of differences within one category: the undoing of essentialism. Similarity is our best corrective to the excessive distilling and purifying that is likely to occur when we take our concepts too literally and too seriously.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    1 year ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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