The Relational Dynamics of Enchantment and Sacralization - Changing the Terms of the Religion Versus Secularity Debate - Peik Ingman

The Relational Dynamics of Enchantment and Sacralization - Changing the Terms of the Religion Versus Secularity Debate - Peik Ingman

2. Objects as Subjects: Agency and Performativity in Rituals

The Relational Dynamics of Enchantment and Sacralization - Changing the Terms of the Religion Versus Secularity Debate - Peik Ingman

Anne-Christine Hornborg [+-]
Lund University, Sweden
Anne-Christine Hornborg is Professor in the Department of the History of Religions, Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, Lund University, Sweden. Her thesis, A Landscape of Left-Overs: Changing Conceptions of Place and Environment among Mi’kmaq Indians of Eastern Canada (2001), is grounded on extensive fieldwork conducted on Cape Breton Island, Canada. She has also carried out fieldwork in Tonga and in the Peruvian Andes. In a number of articles, Hornborg has documented the lifeworld of the Mi’kmaq, including their traditions, rituals, environmental engagements and the phenomenology of places. She has published several articles about indigenous cosmologies, animism, the phenomenology of landscape, ecology and religion, ritual practices and new spirituality. Hornborg was also granted a four-year appointment in ritual studies and in recent years has in a productive way studied new ritual contexts in late modern Sweden.

Description

In ritual theory, objects have mostly been discussed in terms of symbols and interpretations. However, material objects that are employed in rituals are not merely passive carriers of attached cultural meanings. In this article, I will discuss how objects not only become animated in rituals but as such are also ascribed agency, whereby they further animate the ritual field. As ritual agents they achieve important performative functions in the field of transformations. The smoke of burning sage in a ritual setting is not everyday smoke but sacred, and it not only symbolizes a purification process for the participants, but – as a performative agent – it “actually” cleanses them of bad spirits. In attributing objects personhood and agency, it is thus more useful to discuss the phenomenology of animism and ritual objects as forms of relational epistemology than as cases of epistemological fallacies indicating a childish or “primitive” worldview.

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Citation

Hornborg, Anne-Christine. 2. Objects as Subjects: Agency and Performativity in Rituals. The Relational Dynamics of Enchantment and Sacralization - Changing the Terms of the Religion Versus Secularity Debate. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 27-43 Dec 2016. ISBN 9781781794753. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=30125. Date accessed: 25 Sep 2017 doi: 10.1558/equinox.30125. Dec 2016

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