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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This week began with a discussion on the public and private aspects of marriage and weddings and then turned to a discussion of when marriage could be described as political.  You discussed the most recent example that has appeared in the NZ news –  Christine Rankin being appointed to the Families Commission and the ways her history of multiple marriages has become public fodder in the debate around her appointment.

This segued into Bourdieu, rites of passage as political events and symbolic capital.  The powerpoints are below.  We watched a clip from My Big Fat Greek Wedding and analysed it in terms of Bourdieu’s ideas of habitus.  We also discussed ideas of individualism, specifically the reflexive individual and self identity as a project, in terms of Anthony Giddens, Ulrich Beck and Scott Lash.

The clip from class begins at minute 6:

The Telegraph has a photo feature entitled The World’s Weirdest Festivals, including the Boryeong Mud Festival in South Korea and the Wife Carrying World Championships in Finland. 

The world's weirdest festivals

The world's weirdest festivals

Keep in mind that these festivals will be as unexotic to these participants as ANZAC Day is to us.

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The focus this week was still on public rituals, and much of what has gone on in class has already made its way onto the blog.  We’ve got a roundup of the Palio posts and powerpoint slides with general info on public rituals.

We watched an ethnographic film on Shrovetide celebrations in the Baden region of Germany.  The Weekly Blog Ritual followed this up with a collection of videos from other regions of Germany.

Carnival was discussed:
•   It is a Christian ritual. It has its origin in the Middle Ages and is strongly connected with the Catholic church.
•    Carnival ist therefore limited to countries of predominant catholic denomination: Central and Southern Europe and Latin America.
•    Carnival is derived from Italian carne levare = farewell to meat.
•    Shrovetide is derived from to shrive = to hear the confession, to assign penance, and absolve.
•    Traditionally, Carnival is a time of liminality, for crossing the line, when men dress as women, and the poorest take over the city‘s streets, covered in glitter and gold.
•    Carnival was/is the time of masquerades, excessive eating, drinking, dancing, playing and performing, before Ash Wednesday brings it all to an end and Lent, 40 days of abstinence begins
•    Most public celebrations happen between Thursday and Tuesday, when life is lived on the streets and in pubs.

We finished up this weeky by using our general knowledge of public rituals and drawing on Carnival and the Palio as models to construct our own public ritual for New Zealand.

There has been a lot of discussion on the blogs about The Palio.   Here’s a roundup in case you’ve missed any

Also, google maps has an incredible array of photos of Siena, including some of The Palio.

The powerpoint presentation below will be useful in thinking about public rituals generally, but will also be instructive for our discussions of Palio and Carnival.