Firstly, the preface to Dundes & Falassi’s  La Terra in Piazza: An Interpretation of the Palio of Siena.  Googlebooks has let me down, so I’ve embedded the preface here for you to read:

It was a busy, busy week.  We covered the idea of liminality, dove into secular rituals, and began discussing public events/public rituals.

Information on Victor Turner and liminality is here.  We discussed liminality as a period of anti-structure, bracketed by times of structure.  Your classmates have written informative posts on the topic ranging from deciphering Turner’s article in your reader to a list of what often characterises the liminal phase.

After reading Moore & Myerhoff’s intro to secular ritual we discussed how reconfiguring the term ‘sacred’ meant that the study of ritual could migrate to a secular context.  The primary change was a broadening of what the term “sacred” could mean.  Since ‘sacred’ had usually been synonymous with the religious realm, it had the effect of making religious rituals and their effects unquestionable.  In theorising secular ritual, the unquestionable aspect of the sacred was retained, but it was teased away from a religious context.  The function of secular rituals is still to make their goals/effects seem unquestionable.  What differs between religious rituals and secular rituals are their explanations of causality.  Secular rituals move the earthly world; religious rituals move the heavens/entice the gods in order to impact the earthly world.

Have a look at these posts on Moore & Myerhoff’s explanation of Turner, the construction of image through ritual, thin vs thick description, the necessity of a cleansing ritual after a murder, and feelings of safety and acceptance that emerge out of ritual.

Regarding public rituals and events, we discussed some general characteristics that they often share and what purpose they can serve. I’ll leave out the details for now in the hopes that in your coming blog posts you will collectively create your own definition of public rituals.

We also watched a few videos on the Palio before we discussed the various ways you could approach the Palio and the symbolism involved: