26 Pages

Change and Stability of Rituals: An Introduction

ByChristiane Brosius, Ute Hüsken

Ritual activity is a genuine type of human action. It can and ought to be differentiated from other forms of action: Every known culture has rituals, and ritualising seems to be a fundamental human faculty. Even if denied or rejected, ritual survives and returns through the backdoor, possibly in disguise. With societies, cultures and contexts involved in ongoing processes of change, it is inevitable that rituals change, too. In fact, considering ritual as a cultural dynamic fl ow, despite its specifi c characteristics like formality, standardisation and repetition, is one of the key challenges in the Humanities today. Ritual is not only a central element of cultural practice, but also plays a crucial role in the shaping and change of socio-cultural order, in contemporary as well as in societies of the past and all over the globe.