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?
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 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.