This chapter argues that several general conclusions can be drawn from the specific case studies presented in the volume. First, scholars should actively resist the polarized characterization of ritual (imagined and perfect vs. actual and imperfect) that underlies most ritual theory today. Second, scholars should handle source material differently, putting studies of “lived” ritual in intimate conversation with studies of “imagined” ritual, and incorporating texts that discuss ritual disruption and adjustment more prominently in ritual theorizing. This will facilitate locating ritual disruption appropriately in ritual theory discussions. Third, ritual gone wrong highlights the fact that ritual activity is largely concerned with putting something at stake, often revealing dynamics and elements at play between conflicting stakeholders. Finally, ritual disruptions often function as a “tell,” signaling the relative vibrancy or vulnerability of a ritual system through its ability (or inability) to absorb innocent mistakes, deliberate change, or malicious misrepresentation.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.