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Ritual Gone WrongWhat We Learn from Ritual Disruption$
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Kathryn T. McClymond

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199790913

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199790913.001.0001

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(p.173) Conclusion
Ritual Gone Wrong

Kathryn T. McClymond

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that several general conclusions can be drawn from the specific case studies presented in the volume. First, scholars should actively resist the polarized characterization of ritual (imagined and perfect vs. actual and imperfect) that underlies most ritual theory today. Second, scholars should handle source material differently, putting studies of “lived” ritual in intimate conversation with studies of “imagined” ritual, and incorporating texts that discuss ritual disruption and adjustment more prominently in ritual theorizing. This will facilitate locating ritual disruption appropriately in ritual theory discussions. Third, ritual gone wrong highlights the fact that ritual activity is largely concerned with putting something at stake, often revealing dynamics and elements at play between conflicting stakeholders. Finally, ritual disruptions often function as a “tell,” signaling the relative vibrancy or vulnerability of a ritual system through its ability (or inability) to absorb innocent mistakes, deliberate change, or malicious misrepresentation.

Keywords:   ritual theory, performance, Ute Huesken, Ronald Grimes, nature of ritual, ritual (im)perfection, power/authority, ritual change, ritual system’s health, vulnerability

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