Ritual and Emotions: Moving Relations, Patterned Effusions

Published on Mar 1, 2010
· DOI :10.3167/ARRS.2010.010105
François Berthomé1
Estimated H-index: 1
Michael Houseman13
Estimated H-index: 13
Th is article reconsiders the connection between 'ritual' and 'emotion' from a pragmatic, relational perspective in which rituals are seen as dynamic inter- active contexts and emotions as fairly short-lived emergent properties and integral components of these interactions. It emphasizes ritual's capacity to reallocate social positions by instantiating characteristic patterns of relationship, and the way par- ticular emotions crystallize and express these patterns. In short, ritual emotions are treated as the sensate qualities of ritual relationships. From this standpoint, emotions feature in ceremonial settings not as striking experiences graft ed onto practices and representations, but as constitutive aspects of ritual interactions themselves, whose properties of bodily salience and relational refl exivity both refl ect and infl ect the latter's course in a variety of sensory, expressive, moral, and strategic ways. Four is- sues relating to ritual and emotion are discussed within the framework of particular ceremonial practices that have been the object of much recent research: (1) the ritual expression of emotions in funerary laments, (2) the waning of cathartic models in the interpretation of rites of affl iction, (3) the intense emotional arousal character- istic of initiatory ordeals, and (4) the self-constructive, aff ective dimensions of con- temporary devotional practices.
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