Surfacing: Separation, Transition, Incorporation



Arnold van Gennep’s classic in comparative ethnography, Les Rites de passage, was first published in 1909.1 It collects accounts, more often anecdotal than scientific, of customs and societal patterns throughout the world in which the experience of change was supported, mediated, protected, magically assisted, its meaning constructed and validated, by ceremony and ritual. Van Gennep began by looking at territorial division, movements across boundaries or frontiers, from one linguistic, religious, social or political domain to another. The journey across the frontier may be shortened to the crossing of the threshold where, nevertheless, interdictions must be overcome by magico-religious sanction. Territorial divisions such as these are never simply spatial: transit from one to another will always have implications which are cultural, religious, legal, broadly speaking ideological.


Territorial Division Symbolic Modality Thetic Phase Mirror Stage Treasure Hunt 
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    Arnold van Gennep, The Rites of Passage, trans. Monika B. Vizedom and Gabrielle L. Caffee (London, 1960).Google Scholar
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    Margaret Atwood, Surfacing (London, 1978). All future page references are to this edition.Google Scholar
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    Jacques Lacan, Écrits: A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan (London, 1977), particularly ‘The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I as revealed in psychoanalytic experience’ (pp. 1–7). See also Moi (ed.), Kristeva Reader, p. 100.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1994

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