Rites of Passage: Communitas in Times of Change
Communitas is closely linked to rites of passage. What we know now as communitas first came to the attention of anthropology indirectly, through the curiosity of the French folklorist Arnold van Gennep (1873–1957).1 In 1902, van Gennep wrote Les Rites de Passage, laying out the results of his research, which consisted of accounts of passage rituals from around the world celebrating an individual’s life change. These were rituals of birth, adolescence, marriage, group initiation, and death—mainly those of adolescence, the maturation of the human body. Van Gennep called the rites liminal, as in lintel. They were “doorway” rites, occurring when a person was in the middle of change, not yet settled but in between. Van Gennep found that differences in style and symbolism in the rites occurred cross-culturally.
KeywordsGroup Initiation Spirit Power White Bead Circumcision Ritual Passage Ritual
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