Accepted paper:

Ritual transformation of "the course of things" as a response to AIDS in South Africa

Author:

Jone Salomonsen (University of Oslo)

Paper short abstract:

The paper will discuss how women affected by HIV-Aids in a South African township transform "the course of things" by divining forth a new, fluid canon with a new fluid sense of authority and kinship by intertwining Zulu and Christian ritual heritage.

Paper long abstract:

In his essay "The Bare Facts of Ritual", Jonathan Smith has argued that ritual should not be understood as congruous with something else, as magical imitations of desired ends or as symbolic acting out of ideas. Rather the opposite, ritual tend to be incongruent with the way things are or are likely to be by the very fact that it factors out contingency, variability and accidentality. Socalled magical ritual expresses, says Smith, a realistic assessment of the fact that the world cannot be compelled, only thought about and remembered in the course of things. Ronald Grimes has contested this highly intellectual approach to ritual and showed how ritual is more than memory and reflection: as profoundly embodied practices ritual generates an oriented habitat, a gendered cosmos. Thus rites are not only about establishing, confirming or opposing views and practices that people already hold, but also about divining new ways to behave in changing circumstances. In dialogue with these two theorists, the paper will discuss how women affected by HIV-aids in a South African township transform "the course of things" by divining forth a new, fluid canon with a new fluid sense of authority and kinship by intertwining Zulu and Christian ritual heritage

panel W118
Ritual and reflection: tropes In transformation and transgression (Wenner-Gren workshop)