After completing the course, the student will be able to:
- Understand the importance of rituals and ceremonies for contemporary society which is characterized by processes of globalization and digitalisation;
- Study, describe and analyze a ritual / ceremony;
- Critically evaluate the meaning of an ‘invented’ ritual / ceremony for both the individual and society;
- Contribute in a sophisticated way to debates on specific cases of ritual / ceremony.
Chaos and pollution are some of the most feared threats of culture and society. Throughout history man has tried to arm himself against the risks of chaos and pollution by structuring and managing his world and daily life by creating rules. Among these rules the creation of rituals and ceremonies has been considered to be one of the most effective buffers against potential chaos and pollution. Life crisis rituals and ceremonies tend to serve the needs of the individual citizen, while calendrical rituals and ceremonies tend to serve the needs of the society by contributing to its social cohesion. At the same time rituals and ceremonies are used to make a distinction between insiders and outsiders. Therefore, rituals and ceremonies are of the utmost importance for the identity of individuals, groups and society. Nowadays, Europe is characterized by the invention of all kinds of rituals and ceremonies, due to the dynamics of globalization and new forms of (online) community. Both governments and individual citizens are creating rituals and ceremonies to cope with the quirks of fate. Therefore, it can be justifiably argued that contemporary society is a ceremonial society, as it always has been.
After a theoretical introduction to the connection of rituals, ceremonies, culture and society, attention will be paid to both ‘traditional’ rituals and ceremonies and newly invented rituals and ceremonies in Europe (and beyond). The course will present rituals and ceremonies that are supposed to contribute to social cohesion or to the integration of ‘outsider groups’ in societies that are influenced by the dynamics of globalization, migration and digitalization. The course will also focus on rituals and ceremonies after disasters or atrocities. Examples of both civil and religious rituals and ceremonies will be dealt with in this course.
In the second part of the course, students will study rituals and ritualizations regarding death in the digital society. All students will contribute to an online exhibition regarding 'death mentalities'.