Rituals Between Mind and Society

November 4-5, 2021, Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia

The workshop is dedicated to the study of rituals and their 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 and social sciences. Two general topics frame the workshop:  

1. Collective 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 consider 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 and Evolutionary 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 do rituals 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?
  • How do rituals articulate or enforce social order and social hierarchies?
  • How and what values and social norms are transmitted through rituals?
  • 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 ritual?
  • Are religion and ritual cultural adaptations, by-products, or both? 
  • How can we integrate ethnography, experiment, and computational modeling in the study of ritual and 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

Program and Abstracts click here

The workshop is organized by

Institute of Ethnology and Social Anthropology, SAS
Institute of Social Anthropology, FSES, Comenius University
Slovak Association of Social Antropology


The workshop has hybrid format. The in person part will take place in Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia, and the online part will happen via Zoom platform.
To attend online use the following zoom link:
Meeting ID: 825 3350 7366
Passcode: 851806


Please register HERE no later than 10 September 2021

Workshop fee 

Please pay the workshop fee of 30€ to the bank account of the Slovak Association of Social Anthropologists, no later than 2 November 2021.

Account holder: Slovenská asociácia sociálnej antropológie
Address: Bradáčová 5, 851 02, Bratislava, SR
IBAN: SK58 0200 0000 0024 3816 6653
Name of bank: Všeobecná Úverová Banka a.s.
Address of bank: Mlynské nivy 1, 829 90 Bratislava 25
Title of payment: Workshop fee, full name

Special issue of Slovak Ethnology

This workshop is thematically related to a special issue of Slovak Ethnology dedicated to the topic of rituals as instruments of social regulation. Please check the  call for papers https://uesa.sav.sk/?q=en/call-special-issue-slovak-ethnology-volume-70-...