Statue of André Hazes in Amsterdam

Last week we used weddings as a lens to look at the private-public continuum in rituals and what effect where they lay on this continuum can have on their construction.  This week we moved more towards the public aspects of ritual through looking at media and publicity surrounding two specific funerals, those of André Hazes and Sir Ed Hillary.$5BillPaperSigned.jpg

Brigitte used Irene Steng’s 2009 article, Death and disposal of the people’s singer: The body and bodily practices in commemorative ritual, to address the relationship between public media and ritual.  The article surveys Hazes’ death through trying to understand his body and its portrayal in the rituals surrounding his death.  It also discusses the way his death began a new negotiation of modern death and funeral rites.  Steng discusses Hazes’ living body in terms of his public identity as a celebrity and his role in the social life of Holland, then his dead body as something that creates tension between the need to dispose of it and the desire to commemorate it, and finally she discusses the disposal of his body through cremation and the public and private dispersal of his ashes.

In addition to walking out of the lecture thinking, ‘Wow, I’ve got to get my hands on that article’ you should have also been thinking about the processes through which new rituals emerge and the ways they can be used to display one’s own social standing (think of his fans and his wife) and the social standing of others after their death.  You can never fully escape Bourdieu.

Here’s the clip that Brigitte used to introduce you to Hazes

On Friday we watched a clip from Sir Ed Hillary’s State Funeral that was a contrast to Haze’s public memorial ceremony held in Amsterdam Arena.  Hillary’s funeral was held in a church and was somber throughout.  But the public aspects of his celebrity persona were clearly visible – the private representations of him as an individual were present, but somewhat more difficult to spot.

Brigitte followed this up with a reminder powerpoint about political rituals, below.

Other writers mentioned in class:

Chris Rojek’s writings on celebrity


At Christmas We Don’t Like Pork, Just Like The MacCabees: Festive Food and Religious Identity at the Protestant Christmas Picnic in Hoi An

by Nir Avieli Journal of Material Culture, Vol. 14, No. 2, 219-241 (2009)

Every Christmas, the tiny Protestant community of Hoi An (central Vietnam) congregates and marks the day with a service, a short ceremony and a communal picnic in the church yard. In this article, based on anthropological fieldwork conducted in the town since 1998, the author explores the meanings of the culinary features of the event. By analysing the dishes and eating arrangements at the picnic, he shows how differing facets of the participants’ identity — the religious, the ethnic and the regional — are exposed, defined and negotiated. He argues that, while the eating arrangements represent ethnic Vietnamese identity, the dishes themselves hint at foreignness and `double marginality’: not only of a Christian minority among Buddhists but also of Protestants among Catholics. The author’s findings suggest that the complicated relationship between nation-states and marginal religious groups, as well as among members of differing religious communities within the same ethnic group, are often expressed in subtle practices that are easily overlooked by outsiders but are meaningful and evocative for the participants. The discussion focuses on the meaning of the culinary arena as a sphere of socio-religious negotiation, especially within politically authoritative contexts.

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Thanks to Catherine for giving a lecture on the Hauka on Tuesday!  Your readings from Week 4 should have provided good background for her discussion.  Her powerpoint slides are below, followed by some of the readings she mentioned.

Further readings

Frantz Fanon Black Skin, White Mask

Bhabha, Homi 1994 Of Mimicry and Men: the ambivalence of  colonial discourse. In The Location of Culture. New York: Routledge Pp. 85-92

Ferguson, James 2002 Of Mimicry and Membership: Africans and the “New world society” Cultural Anthropology 17(4):551-69

Taussig, Michael 1993 Mimesis and Alterity: a particular history of the senses. New York: Routledge

Stoller, Paul 1994 Embodying Colonial Memories. American Anthropologist 96(3): 634-48

Stoller, Paul 1995 Embodying Colonial Memories: Spirit possession, power & the Hauka of West Africa. New York: Routledge

Just in case you missed it Jean Rouch’s Les Mtres Fous (The Mad Masters) is available on youtube in three parts.

Following up the film we watched in class last week, the latest edition of Visual Anthropology Review has a film review of Koriam’s Law and the Dead Who Govern.

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Poofters Taking the Piss out of Anzacs: The (Un-)Australian Wit of Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.  Morton, John 2008 Anthropological Forum vol 18(3).

Find the article here.


As an annual event, Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has a key place in the Australian national calendar. Following leads from Gabrielle Carey (1995) and Fiona Nicoll (2001), this paper explores the meaning of Mardi Gras in relation to Australia’s premier ritual event, Anzac Day. It is argued that Mardi Gras and Anzac Day are formally related to an older pairing of Carnival and Easter, and are related to each other as sin is to redemption. However, I show that, because of certain (homophobic) flaws in the configuration of the Anzac legend, the comedic counterpoint of Mardi Gras can itself be elevated to the status of the sacred, giving rise to inherent instability in the symbolic economy of the Australian nation state. After considering a number of examples of Mardi Gras’s transgressive (‘Un-Australian’) humour, I conclude with a general reflection on jokes in Australian ritual politics, particularly in regard to the ‘subject positions’ of those who might inappropriately analyse these politics from a perspective that privileges essentialist notions of opposition and resistance.

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The Promise of Sonic Translation: Performing the Festive Sacred in Morocco

How do international music festivals produce experiences of the sacred in multifaith audiences? What is their part in creating transnational communities of affect? In this article, I theorize what I call “the promise of sonic translation”: the trust in the ultimate translatability of aural (as opposed to textual) codes. This promise, I assert, produces the “festive sacred,” a configuration of aesthetic and embodied practices associated with festivity wherein people of different religions and nations create and cohabit an experience of the sacred through heightened attention to auditory and sense-based modes of devotion conceived as “universal.” The festive sacred is a transnational (thus mobile) phenomenon inextricable from the enterprise of sacred tourism. Such festive forms not only produce a Turnerian communitas but also create new transnational categories that mediate religious sentiment and reenchant the world.

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