Hi everyone,

Just to let you know that our marks for ANTH213 are now available under the My Study tab on MyVictoria – good luck 🙂


Hi everyone,

Well, just thought I should do a bit of a catch-up blog here – I’ve been sick for a few weeks and so have really been neglecting writing. I know that’s not a great excuse, but hey… 🙂

I hope you all did well in the test yesterday!

I found the videos that we watched in class on Tuesday really interesting, about the marriages of Charles and Camilla and Charles and Diana. When I told people that I had a test based on these videos, their general response was “Oh, that’s kinda weird…”. But they were really interesting for looking at what takes place in royal weddings, in particular those of the British royal family.

These weddings could have almost been considered private events – but, because of the sheer volume of media coverage of both of the marriages they were very clearly moved into the public arena. It was remarkable just h0w much attention the media payed to the royal family, what they were doing, who they were with, what they were doing, and in particular what they were wearing. This was really noticeable in Charles and Diana’s wedding – the reporters commenting on how the Queen was wearing a “lovely dress of sea-blue” and how the Queen Mother looked “lovely as ever”. Why was there such an intense focus on fashion? It made me think…

It was also interesting to note how religion was still very much a key part of both weddings, and how this was linked to tradition and power – the weddings were officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the chief leader of the Church of England. However, the Queen’s presence at both of the weddings also highlighted how she is the Supreme Governor of the church, and the power and status she hold because of this.

I was thinking about the structure of weddings and their rituals in New Zealand society. I guess that a lot of what goes on at weddings links to European traditions that were introduced. It makes you consider how some of these rituals are actually quite strange. For instance, stag dos and hen’s nights – where did they come from? And how did they get to be where they are now? And in a country where many people do not classify themselves as religious, why are weddings officiated by religious leaders, or why do weddings have religious undertones? Some things to think about…

Well, I hope you all do really well in your exams and have a fantastic mid-year break! 🙂

ANZAC Assignment Ideas

April 29, 2009

Hi everyone,

Hope you all had a great break-never long enough, I know, but hope you all have a good second half of the trimester 🙂

I’ve been thinking about the ANZAC Day assignment a bit. I decided to look at the role that music,  literature and rhetoric play in the ANZAC ceremonies, such as the hymns, national anthem and odes and poetry. It was quite interesting – I went along to my local ceremony and was a participant observer in the parade there. Although it wasn’t a dawn service, I was still able to gain a sense of the feelings of those involved. I realised that the role of these things in the ceremony is very symbolic and they conjure up images of what the s0ldiers faced, as well as why they did what they did. But they also link to national identity and the reasons why we must learn from the past and see that war isn’t the answer to the world’s problems.

So I think I’ve got a bit of a basis to work on so far-just have to find out a bit more about how these things came to be part of the usual ANZAC Day ceremonies, should be interesting to look at this though.

Hope you’re all going OK with your assignments 🙂

I was quite struck by the reading for the week, those that focused on the Nazis and their influence upon both the celebration of Christmas and the 1936 Berlin Olympics. They gave quite an intimidating view of what the Nazis were, what they set out to accomplish and how they set out to take control of society, through their ‘ways’.  It was quite amazing how this group could muster the support to be able to make these changes, such as making Christmas a ‘celebration of unity’ while using this as a facade for their own Nazi agenda to, in a sense, brainwash German citizens into what was ‘right’. The reading on the Olympics showed how the Nazis were keen to be the biggest and the best that was possible, and they wanted the games to be the ‘debut of Nazi culture to the world’ – this was seen as a way to show the dominance of Nazism over Germany and over Europe.

Watching the video in class on the Korean Mass Games game me similar feelings – how can a group or even just one person create such a hype and rally such support (as Hitler did for the Nazi regime) and to be able to hold such a spectale of ‘national unity’? This is another use of facades – behind this smokescreen of unity and celebration of one nation millions of North Koreans continue to suffer under the regime, and millions more have died as a result. The same could be said for the Beijing Olympics last year – China staged a massive statement of its growing world economic power and of its power in general, against the continuing protests against Chinese control over Tibet and all the concerns about the effect of the Olympics on many Chinese citizens. The sense of ‘unity’ often appears to be infinite, and will continue beyond the ceremonies to celebrate it – however, in many cases it is simply a show f0r the outside world, and a way of trying t0 cement ideas that people would like to exist but that don’t actually exist in general. The reading on the Berlin Olympics showed how the residents of Berlin were instructed on how to behave and to make the city more appealing to foreign visitors – though, in many cases, it can all be traced back to the idea of facades.

Looking forward to the mid-trimester break – hope everyone has a great “studying”(?) 🙂

Hey there,

I really enjoyed the focus on carnival last week, it was great to take a look at what carnival and festivals are like in other countries and what significance they hold for people. When I thought of carnival, I’d often instantly think of Rio di Janeiro and its explosion of colour and an assault on the senses. So it was really neat to take a look at the carnival in the German town on the video, and how it differed from what I expected.

What was interesting was that you could not escape what was going on – everyone was involved, whether they wanted to be or not really. In that way this carnival seemed to be really ‘in your face’ and showed how important it is for the people of this area. The early morning parade seemed to be so different from other carnivals – how it was so loud but not how you’d expect a carnival parade to sound – jarring, and just ‘noise’. But at the same time, it was interesting to see what significance this and the other ritualistic aspects of the carnival had.

The readings were good for a greater understanding of carnival.  Gilmore with the 4 approaches to looking at carnival and his description of carnival as a secular ritual, and how carnival emphasises social distiniction but at the same time brings people together, the idea of carnival as a ‘release’  from everyday life, and how it can be used as a means of class struggle and pressure for political change. The Le Roy ladurie showed how carnival in European countries moved from an agricultural festival to something that focused on social groups, and how this affected the apparent social unity. And the Stoller article was really cool in how it showed that the Songhay of Niger effectively fought against French colonial rule and the French motive of wiping out all African culture by ‘inventing’ their own form of parody and mockery of those present, in particulalry the Europeans.

It was really cool to be able to come up with our own rituals in class – it showed how in some ways New Zealand is so void of the sorts of festivals that are so integral to other cultures. While we celebrate others’ festivals, such as Diwali Festival of Lights and Chinese New Year, we don’t have many ritualistic celebrations that are distinctly our own, and how we need to take a new l0ok at this.

It was good to get the report finished last week-a bit of a weight off! 🙂 But I had a really good time writing it up actually, and I was able to link my observations with different aspects of ritual, so it all worked out pretty well!

Hope everyone has a great week! 🙂

Hi everyone,

I found the readings on the palio were very informative. It was amazing to see how complex and important this festival is to the people of Siena. What seems on the surface to be a horse race is in fact a very deeply-linked social ‘rebirth’, a way of linking the individual contrade with the encompassing comune.  The Handelman reading was interesting in how it would often refer back to the idea of the higher and lower social statuses, and how the palio manages to erode these “class” differences.

The overriding link with the Madonna was something that was very interesting to note, particularly how there are two palio events each year, each dedicated to a different ‘version’ of the Madonna; one a supernatural, devine figure who is the embodiment of holiness and purity, the other who is clained to be able to cure venereal disease and whose image was popular in an area of town where prostitution was common. The two sides of the Madonna is something I hadn’t really considered before, so it was great to get that insight into how people depict her in different settings.

Further important linkages include the roles of both sexes in the palio, and how the palio itself is described as a a male-dominated event, while the presence of the Madonna and the horse (which is considered a feminine character) show that there is a female side to the event as well. The idea of total allegiance to your contrada, the one that you are born into, is really interesting too.

The Dundes and Falassi reading contained quite a few confusing Italian terms that were a bit hard to get the head around, but I found it gave some good information about the role of the jockey, and how they basically have the wishes of their entire contrada resting on their shoulders, and how they face the wrath of their contrada if they don’t win the coveted first place, and the questions of why not.

These readings made me think about the connections to similar events in New Zealand society. I thought about the game of rugby – while it is not linked to religion, it is considered a religion in the minds of many sports fans. There is a great deal of build-up prior to important matches, gearing the crowds up for what is quite a short game together (a bit longer than the 90 second of palio though!). Rugby is often a typically male-dominated arena, particularly the game itself. Provincial rugby could be compared to the competitions between the individual contrada, aiming to be the best in their game. Rugby can bring areas together to support their team-team allegiance could be seen as similar to the allegiance to the contrada people are born into.

Well, my observation of people at the railway station was really cool – I found that people really don’t have much to do with one another, it is just a place to pass through on the way to somewhere else. Will be some interesting stuff to write up there I think…:)

Have a good week! 🙂

Hey y’all,

Wow these readings are really cool, but so in-depth at the same time…so much to take in! It also just made me realise just how much is counted as ritual or ceremony, even though we sometimes don’t even consider it to be so.  For example, with the Turner reading, and cultural performances and the huge amount of detail and meaning they can have behind them,  and often too link to liminality and other processes.

It was also really amazing to get an insight in the van Gennep reading about how many different types of rites of passage there are, and all the elements associated with them, such as crossing the threshold and borders, the sacredness of strangers, and the way they are treated, the giving of gifts and eating together.

Moore and Myerhoff’s reading was really interesting, in the way it described so many types of and elements of rituals, e.g. social reality and how people think about it, and the way that social and cultural context is so important when studying ritual, how they give meanig to situations, how it is often difficult to understand or show outcomes of rituals, the way they aim to influence the world, and the way that they provide a sense of order against chaos in some situations.

The stuff we discussed today in class about losing virginity was really good-just another thing that I haven’t really considered as so much of a ritual before. But put up against how other cultures see this, it makes our practice seem kind of strange, even though it is still intertwined with some of the same values and moral ideas.

I’ve been thinking a bit about the observation assignment, but it’s really difficult to narrow my ideas down-I just keep noticing how more and more things that we do in everyday life could be counted as rituals! I had an idea of sitting in the Wellington railway station for a bit during peak time and see how people behave, especially when they have to get somewhere quickly but at the same time not get in others’ ways. What do people reckon about that idea?

Have a good weekend! 🙂