Ritual has long been a central concept in anthropological theories of religious transmission. Ritual, Performance and the Senses offers a new understanding of how ritual enables religious representations ? ideas, beliefs, values ? to be shared among participants. Focusing on the body and the experiential nature of ritual, the book brings together insights from three distinct areas of study: cognitive/neuroanthropology, performance studies and the anthropology of the senses. Eight chapters by scholars from each of these sub-disciplines investigate different aspects of embodied religious practice, ranging from philosophical discussions of belief to explorations of the biological processes taking place in the brain itself. Case studies range from miracles and visionary activity in Catholic Malta to meditative practices in theatrical performance and include three pilgrimage sites: the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the festival of Ramlila in Ramnagar, India and the mountain shrine of the Lord of the Shiny Snow in Andean Peru.Understanding ritual allows us to understand processes at the very centre of human social life and humanity itself, making this an invaluable text for students and scholars in anthropology, cognitive science, performance studies and religious studies.
Ritual, Performance and the Senses