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In ritual studies embodiment may mean many things. While it con-sistently signals extra theoretical attention to physical human presence,the passive form of this term can imply a submissive imprinting ormolding of this physical identity, even the anachronous image of caging consciousness in brute physicality. Perhaps for these reasons, ritual studies does not restrict itself to this term in order to give atten-tion to the body. And many theories of the body have flourished overthe last few decades. While there was no lack of attention to the body in cultural theory throughout the twentieth century, the publication in 1989 of the lovely and provocative Zone volumes, Fragments for a History of the Human Body, signaled something of a high watermark in the new wave of attention.1 Studies of the body and ritual, however, have been far fewer, although general interest in the body has undoubtedly nurtured ritual studies in general. Writing in 1992, I suggested the leading roles of anthropology andgender studies in this new attention to the body.2 A decade later, it is easier to appreciate more fully the contributions of other disciplines, notably sociology, philosophy, and critical theory. Although most disciplines still pursue fairly distinct theoretical agendas, they all tend to encounter some version of the so-called Cartesian mind-body problem and therefore seek to propound an expanded view of the body that attempts to overcome this culturally embedded dichotomy. The same analytic attraction to the body appears in other less-expected areas. In the history of science and even nursing theory, for example, the language of embodiment redefines body and mind in terms of a more authentic holism. 3 Other sciences of the ‘embodied mind’ and the ‘mindful body’ have also provided terminology and further impetus to this wave of interest.4 In this environment, even a widely used concept like ‘internalization’ is more carefully analyzed than ever before.5

Chapter of

Theorizing Rituals, Volume 1: Issues, Topics, Approaches, Concepts


Jens Kreinath
J.A.M. Snoek
Michael Stausberg