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Subproject C1


Beyond the Mainstream: Ritual Transfer in Secret Societies und the Dynamics of "Rites de Passage"

Department and Research Field: Religious Studies
Subproject C1 has been concluded June 30, 2007.


Subproject Management

Prof. Dr. Gregor Ahn (Projektleiter)
gregor.ahn@urz.uni-heidelberg.de
 
Institute for Religious Studies
Akademiestr. 4-8
69117 Heidelberg
 
Phone: +49 (0) 6221 - 54 76 21
Fax: +49 (0) 6221 - 54 76 24


Associate Prof. Dr. Jan Snoek, (Deputy Head of Subproject)
jan.snoek@urz.uni-heidelberg.de

Institute for Religious Studies
Akademiestr. 4-8
69117 Heidelberg
 
Phone: +49 (0) 6221 - 54 76 21


Staff

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Project Program

So far, classical ritual theory typically considered ritual changes as exception. However, our first project phase revealed ritual dynamics to be rather the "rule" in ritualistics.

 

In the second project phase, we will strive to derive analytical impulses for the further formulation of the new paradigm of "ritual dynamics": we will conduct a comparative study assessing the prerequisites and effects of ritual dynamics on "rites de passage". Our work will be based on a second case study examining the ritualistics of secret societies and will be carried out in close cooperation with other subprojects of the collaborative research center (SFB 619).

 

Point of departure will be our own research on a secret society by the name of "Mechanics" which emerged in 18th century Great Britain. Its members were mostly people of color. The society did not conceive of itself as an Order of Masons and was segregated from and excluded by the European Freemasonry.

 

The "Mechanics" expanded more and more into the Caribbean and the USA, before partly re-emigrating to Europe since the 1960s. In the course of this double migration (or Diaspora), the society's rituals repeatedly underwent substantial changes. With the research on this community's "rites de passage", we are breaking new ground in the science of religious history.

 

The methodological interpretation for the SFB 619's formulation of the paradigm "ritual dynamics" is closely interleaved with the exploration of this case study. To gain an additional focus for the comparison beyond the initiation rituals in secret societies all of the SFB 619's case studies on "rites de passage" shall be reexamined (according to van Genneps and not Turner).

 

The study aims to determine the significance of ritual dynamics for "rites de passage", a topos so important to ritual theory. Featuring a targeted collaboration with the other SFB 619 subprojects, the concrete work on case studies lays the foundation for a further differentiation of the SFB 619's new topoi in ritual theory.


Main Topics

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