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Rites without Symbols

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

Abstract In this article the argument is that there are rites, or parts of rites, that can be understood by all concerned without recourse to symbolical interpretation. This position is illustrated with the help of examples from different cultures and religions that impose a social hierarchy: typically there is one person or party that is superior, another one that is inferior. The initiator of such rites can be the superior or the inferior person/party. A discussion of these illustrations gives rise to further reflections, notably about the role of violence in ritual.

Affiliations: 1: University of Lausanne University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland


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