Victor Turner and Contemporary Cultural Performance

Graham St John (ed.) 2008. New York: Berghahn

Upon the 25th anniversary of his passing, this collection features contributions reflecting the wide application of Victor Turner's thought to cultural performance in the early 21st Century. From anthropology, sociology and religious studies to performance, cultural and media studies, Turner has had a prodigious interdisciplinary impact. The collection of 17 essays demonstrates that, in the face of challenges from poststructuralism and postcolonial studies, Turnerian ideas remain compelling with international scholars located in a range of disciplines illustrating how these ideas have been reanimated, renovated, and repurposed in studies of contemporary cultural performance and experience.

Contributions to this collection are grouped in four thematic sections: 'Performing Culture' covering new ritual, drama, media and reflexivity; 'Rites of Passage and Popular Culture' on popular 'transition' rites and popular investment in the ideas of Turner; 'Pilgrimage and Communitas' with contributions covering contemporary manifestations; and, 'Edith Turner' on her role in the Turnerian project.

Volume contributors address themes ranging from dark communitas and techno tribalism to liminal sports and the mediatisation of social dramas, from backpacking, shopping and protest pilgrimage to what Barbara Babcock calls the "gynesis" of Victor Turner's work. Applying, critiquing and reworking Turner's cultural processualism, with attention to such diverse themes as performing "sorry business" within the context of settler and indigenous Australian reconciliation, improvised ritual-theatre within a tertiary education context, pilgrimage to the Burning Man Festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, and recognition of the critical role of Edith Turner in the development of the Turnerian perspective, this collection demonstrates the broad and evolving appeal of the Turnerian project.

 

Contents

Graham St John. Victor Turner and Contemporary Cultural Performance: An Introduction

Part I: Performing Culture: Ritual, Drama, and Media

Chapter 1. J. Lowell Lewis. Toward a Unified Theory of Cultural Performance: A Reconstructive Introduction to Victor Turner

Chapter 2. Ian Maxwell. The Ritualization of Performance (Studies)

Chapter 3. Michael Cohen, Paul Dwyer, and Laura Ginters. Performing "Sorry Business": Reconciliation and Redressive Action

Chapter 4. Mihai Coman. Liminality in Media Studies: From Everyday Life to Media Events

Chapter 5. Simon Cottle. Social Drama in a Mediatized World: The Racist Murder of Stephen Lawrence

Part II Popular Culture and Rites of Passage

Chapter 6. Sharon Rowe. Modern Sports: Liminal Ritual or Liminoid Leisure?

Chapter 7. Graham St John. Trance Tribes and Dance Vibes: Victor Turner and Electronic Dance Music Culture

Chapter 8. Amie Matthews. Backpacking as a Contemporary Rite of Passage: Victor Turner and Youth Travel Practices

Chapter 9. Gerard Boland. Walking to Hill End with Victor Turner: A Theater Making Immersion Event

Part III: Contemporary Pilgrimage and Communitas

Chapter 10. Lee Gilmore. Of Ordeals and Operas: Reflexive Ritualizing at the Burning Man Festival

Chapter 11. Justine Digance and Carole Cusack."Shopping For a Self": Pilgrimage, Identity-Formation, and Retail Therapy

Chapter 12. Sean Scalmer. Turner Meets Gandhi: Pilgrimage, Ritual and the Diffusion of Non-Violent Direct Action

Chapter 13. Margi Nowak. Dramas, Fields, and 'Appropriate Education': The Ritual Process, Contestation, and Communitas for Parents of Special-Needs Children

Part IV: Edith Turner

Chapter 14. Matthew Engelke. An Interview with Edith Turner.

Chapter 15. Barbara Babcock. Woman/women in "the Discourse of Man": Edie Turner and Victor Turner's Language of the Feminine

Chapter 16. Douglas Ezzy. Faith and Social Science: Contrasting Victor and Edith Turner's Analyses of Spiritual Realities

Chapter 17. Jill Dubisch. Challenging the Boundaries of Experience, Performance, and Consciousness: Edith Turner's Contributions to the Turnerian Project

Reviews

"This volume is a wonderful exercise in rethinking Turner through the lens of our increasingly digitalized and mediatized world. . . . The introduction by St John alone is worth the price of the book. Dense with the jargon of scholarship, freshly minted phrases, theoretical labels, and esoteric framings, as it need be to describe the work of Turner, who made a prodigious impact across a spectrum of disciplines."
James A. Pritchett Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"This collection of writings dedicated to the Turners may sometimes contest the validity and morality of 'feelings and desires', but St John gives these elusive possibilities an enduring stage for becoming. Could the volume be conceived as an academic fissure inciting change?"
Maggi Phillips,  Australasian Drama Studies

"An impressive selection of analyses conducted through diverse disciplinary lenses (including media and communication, sociology, religion, and anthropology) explicates the need for a revival of Turner's multifaceted theory." Julie Gouweloos, Canadian Review of Sociology

 

The collection from Berghahn Books

 

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