The Politics of Ritual

An illuminating look at the transformative role that rituals play in our political lives


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Mar 14, 2023
3 b/w illus.
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The Politics of Ritual is a major new account of the political power of rituals. In this incisive and wide-ranging book, Molly Farneth argues that rituals are social practices in which people create, maintain, and transform themselves and their societies. Far from mere scripts or mechanical routines, rituals are dynamic activities bound up in processes of continuity and change. Emphasizing the significance of rituals in democratic engagement, Farneth shows how people adapt their rituals to redraw the boundaries of their communities, reallocate goods and power within them, and cultivate the habits of citizenship.

Transforming our understanding of rituals and their vital role in the political conflicts and social movements of our time, The Politics of Ritual examines a broad range of rituals enacted to just and democratic ends, including border Eucharists, candlelight vigils, and rituals of mourning. This timely book makes a persuasive case for an innovative democratic ritual life that can enable people to create and sustain communities that are more just, inclusive, and participatory than those in which they find themselves.