Next autonomeeting: Dr. John McGraw, “Ritual and Enaction”

Date and time: 25th March 2014, at 11.15

Location: Carlos Santamaria Building, Room B14.

Speaker: Dr. John McGraw, Department of Culture and Society – Interacting Minds Centre (IMC), Aarhus University

Title: Ritual and Enaction


In parallel with recent developments in the cognitive sciences regarding the importance of action, ritual theory has undergone a similar revision over the last few decades. Whereas ritual was once discussed solely in terms of symbolism and belief, now the importance of ritual action is foregrounded. Many theorists consider doing rituals, rather than inferring various theological subtleties supposedly implied by them, to be paramount. However, this school of thought should not be interpreted as the marginalization of meaning as a fundamental category, though a basic reorientation is required: Meaning, as participatory sense-making, comes predominantly from the enaction of ritual rather than from ideas or beliefs thought to be expressed by those rituals. In this talk, theories of enaction and theories of ritual action are juxtaposed in order to arrive at a set of productive comparisons between the two theoretical frameworks. As in the theory of enaction, it is here suggested that ritual is an important means of “bringing forth a world.”