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Rites of Passage

by: Carina Sauter

Rites of Passage ANTH 1102

Carina Sauter
GPA 3.79

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About this Document

These notes cover the lecture on rites of passage, death and burial in a variety of societies that play an important role in the description in their communities.
Introduction to Anthropology
Dr. Birch
Class Notes
25 ?




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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Carina Sauter on Sunday April 17, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ANTH 1102 at University of Georgia taught by Dr. Birch in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 6 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Anthropology in anthropology, evolution, sphr at University of Georgia.

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Popular in anthropology, evolution, sphr


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Date Created: 04/17/16
Rites of Passage: Death, Burial and Mourning Belief Systems • Rites of Passage: a rite of passage is a ritual event that makes a person’s transition from one status to another o Examples: § Marriage (single and part of origination family to married and part of a procreation family) § Baptism § Confirmation § Bar/bat mitzvah § Cotillion § Rush week o Painful/ life threatening § Pledging § Scarification/tattooing § Circumcision/ genital mutilation o Individual rights of passage § “vision question” § spend days/nights secluded to spend time with natural forces and spirits § visions/communication with other beings (plants, animals, etc.) o Communal rites of passage § Ex. military training § Ex. college o Arnold Van Gennep § Three Phases in a Rite of Passage • 1. Separation: withdrawal from the group • 2. Liminality: occupying ambiguous social positions • 3. Incorporation: reincorporation into the community/group with a different status • Funerals: the mortuary rites (rite of passage) that transforms a person from a living to a deceased member of society o Robert Hertz § French sociologist § Born in 1881 and killed in WWII in 1915 § Work published in 1907 when he was 26: “A Contribution to the Study of the Collective Representation of Death” § To understand death and mortuary practices, “We must understand the journey taken by…” • The body after death • The soul after death • The mourners after death o Peter Metcalf § Studied the Berawan people and their secondary burial and the stages of a funeral § Step 1: for 2-10 days, rights and rituals take place with corpse § Step 2: store corpse in long house or platform in grave yard and kin gather resources to pay for final steps in funeral and monitor decomposition of body (could be 8 months, could be years, but dry climate speeds up decomposition process while kind get money) wait for body to be bare bones § Step 3: kept in house for 6-10 days entertaining guests (very costly with gifts and food) § Step4: remains are removed from the house to final resting place – mausoleum just outside of community • Deceased becomes an ancestor as their soul travels down the river to the land of the dead with other souls o Inca Royal Mummies § Mummification § Inca rulers mummified amidst all their wealth § Rituals long after death § Maintained palaces – no inheritance for kin, kept wealth and estates after death § Consulted and asked for guidance § Eat and drink with them § Visit with other royal mummies § Participate in ceremonies outside palace • Religion: is belief and ritual concerned with supernatural beings, powers and forces o The supernatural is the extraordinary realm outside (but which to impinges on) the observable world o Religion is the intersection between belief systems, cultural systems, and world views o Narratives, symbols, traditions, histories to explain life/ the universe/ how to live life o When did religion begin? § Did it begin with behavioral modernity? § Did it begin with Neanderthal burials? § Did it begin with cave art? § We can’t be sure o Edward Tylor: “religion was born as people sought to understand conditions and events they could not explain” § “must be their religion!” o Animism § Belief system or worldview wherein animals, plans and inanimate objects or phenomena possess a spiritual essence § An anthropological construct rather than an organized religion § More of a belief system or world view than religion § Very complex interactions between humans actions and objects o Magic and Witchcraft § Magic: refers to supernatural techniques intended to accomplish specific aims • Included spells, incantations, charms • Found in cultures with diverse belief systems § Witchcraft: the use of magical or supernatural faculties § Magic and witchcraft play a key role in tribal warfare, including among the Yanomami o Shamanism § Involved a practitioner (shaman) communicating with the supernatural or spirit world on the behalf of a person or group § May involve psychoactive substances and activities (ex. trance, fasting, etc) meant to achieve an altered state, dreams, or visions o Polytheism: the belief in multiple gods § Ex. Ancient Greek Pantheon § Ex. Ancient Maya § Different functions • Rain, harvest, etc. o Monotheism: the belief in a single, all-powerful deity § Islam § Christianity § Judaism o Religion and the State § States may adopt “official” religions § Plays a crucial role in structuring daily life – holidays, working hours, justice and law, ceremonial observances – enforced sometimes through legal or military might § Religion can be powerful means of controlling people’s beliefs, their actions, and what they teach their children § Afghanistan under the Taliban • Tried to create their vision of an Islamic society • State laws • Unable to talk to people, cut beards, fly kites, etc. • Dynamited 2 statues of Buddha § Ex. abortion rights, rights to marry, teaching creationism in school, religious liberty or the freedom to discriminate?


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