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Project Area C


Ritual Transfer in European and Middle East Societies

Even though their historical premises are reaching far back in time (recursivity), the complex ritual performances of project area C are without exception products of modern culture and part of the 21st Century. Moreover, the subprojects C2 (Online Religion) and C8 (Ritualized Consumption of Psychoactives) have staked their research areas in the immediate present prompting them to jointly explore methodical objectification strategies. The Project C10 brings into the focus the "rituals without performance", like pictured in literature and film.
 
A common factual, interdisciplinary point for almost all subprojects can be established through the term ritual transfer. The entire project area C investigates the transfer/shift of traditional rituals (C2) as well as rituals adopted from foreign cultures (C2, C8) and ritualization patterns. This transfer or shift is mostly induced by the political-historical change causing them to alter from a socio-culturally rather precisely defined position to an open position. This leaves them in a situation that is not consolidated in terms of socio-cultural homeostasis and therefore cannot be defined in a sustainable empirical manner.
 
The transfer from a relatively defined normative and institutionally reliable context into a so far unshaped social world leads to the changes of ritual performances described by the key word "Ritual Dynamics". It applies to the migration of traditional freemason rituals (C1) or the transformation-prone design of ritualized internet religiosities (C2). It is also applicable to the repetition of conventional celebrations of poets in a literary field undergoing cultural-industrial and media changes (C10), to the adaptation of traditional liturgies to the (leisure-)time frame determined by the world of business as well as to the import of exotic rituals into the current youth subculture (C8).
 
Subproject C11 seems to be the exception. This subproject focusses family and organizational constellations as a sphere of activity located in traditional conservative ethics of post-modern society. Constellations are therapeutic and consultative interventions using representatives to visualize interpersonal relations in a spatial and symbolic arrangement. The repositioning of these representatives as well as the use of ritual speech acts transforms the initial arrangement into a visible positive solution. The underlying logic of these constellations follows postulated “rules” that supposedly apply to all social systems.

The questions emerging in the context of this subproject are just as well important for other projects, such as C7. Just to mention one of these crucial questions: did the deep crisis, caused by the ideological, political and material rupture, induce a need or even therapeutic desire for a fundamentally altered (uncontaminated) normative context?  
 
In project area C, congruent to the other project areas, the interdependency of script and performance requests our special attention. This is true for all project work, drawing testimonies from text archives, regulations, constitutions, founding texts, rulebooks as well as image archives.
 
Projects C2 and C8, however, are exceptions. The former because of its nature of non-linear text-image-configuration, the latter due to its reversal of the research process from performance to discovery and description of (more or less discreet)  records using different media (script, image, symbol or oral tradition e.g. during the Peyote or Ayahuasca ritual).
 
Subproject C6 already concluded its work on changes in the Eucharist ritual where the above-mentioned interplay is closely interlaced with the principles of religious ritualistics. At the same time, its thematized mediation between "word" and "performance" touches on the fundamentals of performativity, namely the execution of the performance through the (ritual) speech act.
 
An issue, that also occurs in other subprojects of project area C, for example in the efforts of religious and arcane groups (C7) who strive to adapt the arrangement and effectiveness of (verbal and non-verbal) symbolic ritual performances to externally imposed change.
 
All area C projects share the same core question requiring joint comparative efforts: What is the significance of the respective ritual performances (even if they are understood as self-referential) for the meaningfulness of the involved social world?
 
All subprojects revolve around cultural and social values, such as access and affiliation with an elite (former C1, C2), respect for victims and purification from guilt (C9), preservation of cultural identity (C7) and the need for in-group acceptance. Compared to the traditional type of rituals, most rituals and ritual-like practices of the C-projects possess a new quality. Whereas rituals used to and still do guarantee intra-cultural traditionalism, the selected events are characterized by transcultural features. They all derive from diasporal cultures (C9), from mythic and shamanic tribal traditions (C2), from transnational secret societies (C1), or from a field of cosmopolitan value rationality (C9) and all of them assert lasting, universal cultural values. Such transcultural values are highly regarded in prosperous social milieus where lifestyle no longer solely orients on intra-cultural traditions while rituals and ritualizations nevertheless cannot be renounced.
 
From this point of view, ritual dynamics acquire a completely new meaning: the term stands for a cultural syncretism, which increases the polyvalence of ritual actions. It not only guarantees the "old" notion of an everlasting, repetitive ritual but also promotes rituals and ritualizations as components for the design of lifestyles including social obligations.