Rituals Between Mind and Society

17.-18.4. (16.-19.4.) 2020
Call for paper proposals

We are pleased to announce a workshop dedicated to the study of rituals and its social functions with a special but not exclusive focus on cognitive and evolutionary approaches. We encourage empirical and theoretical papers from anthropology, psychology, religious studies, and other humanities, social, and natural sciences. Two general topics frame the workshop:  

1. Collecive rituals as an instrument of social regulation

  • Social scientists have long been studying complex relationships between collective rituals and many forms of social regulation. Durkheim speculated that collective rituals bond group members and minimize status differences. Conversely, Leach argued that rituals mirror and maintain social inequalities and hierarchies. Van Gennep focused on how rituals transform individuals’ social statuses, and functionalists viewed rituals as mechanisms to redress social conflicts. Recent evolutionary approaches view collective rituals as adaptive behaviors that promote cooperation. Rituals can create or maintain collective identities and represent “arenas” for displays of group commitment and social norms adherence, among others. 

2. New ideas, challenges and pitfalls in the cognitive study of ritual

  • Since the inception of the Cognitive Science of Religion, rituals have been one of its central topics. They were approached from many different points of view, and CSR scholars investigated many different research problems regarding rituals. On the one hand, CSR opened and is still opening new theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of ritual. On the other hand, this also brings new challenges and hidden traps.

Questions addressed by the presenters might include, e.g:

  • In what particular ways does ritual action foster prosociality, cooperation, or status management?
  • Do rituals contribute to group identity, cohesion, parochialism, or inter-group hostility?
  • What and how is being signaled in a collective ritual?
  • What is the relationship between social structure and its adjacent ritual system?
  • What are the main differences and similarities between religious and non-religious rituals?
  • How can we use new methods or state of the art technologies in the study of religion?
  • Are religion and ritual cultural adaptations, by-products, or both? 
  • How can we integrate ethnography, experiment, and computational modeling in the study of religion?
  • How to connect the symbolic interpretation and the evolutionary explanation of ritual action?
  • etc.

This workshop is organized by the Institute of Ethnology and Social Anthropology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Social Anthropology, Comenius University, and the Slovak Association of Social Anthropologists

The workshop will take place in picturesque historical town Banská Štiavnica, a UNESCO heritage site in central Slovakia, on 17-18 April 2020.

The deadline for abstract submission has been extended until 31 January 2020.
Speakers will be notified of acceptance by 5 February 2020.
Workshop fee: 30 € (Students: 10€)

If you wish to convene a specialized panel please contact the organizing team at vladimir.bahna@savba.sk