The Materiality of Relational Transformations: Propositions for renewed analyses of life-cycle rituals in Melanesia and Australia

Abstract : This paper introduces this special issue and analyses Papua New Guinea and Australian initiation and death rituals as moments of relational transformations. Although the general argument is not completely new, it has often remained an undemonstrated statement. The paper hence focuses on the specific ways people make these changes effective and express them in their rituals. It is suggested that an invariant modus operandi is in play in which, for a relation to be transformed, its previous state must first be ritually enacted. Towards the end of the ritual, the new state of the relationship is itself publicly enacted through a manifestation of the form the relation takes after the ritual. The paper suggests that a relationship cannot be transformed in the absence of the persons concerned. The relational components need to be either directly present, such as in initiations, or mediated through objects, such as in death rituals.
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Pascale Bonnemère. The Materiality of Relational Transformations: Propositions for renewed analyses of life-cycle rituals in Melanesia and Australia. Anthropological Forum: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Comparative Sociology, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2017, 27 (1), pp.3-17. ⟨http://www.anthropologicalforum.net⟩. ⟨10.1080/00664677.2017.1287057⟩. ⟨hal-01509239⟩

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