This book is first and foremost a presentation of case studies of absent rituals, intended not to present a deductive conceptualization of absent ritual but to explore absent ritual as a ritual category of its own by distinguishing forms or types of its manifestation, use, and appropriation. Apart from this groundbreaking exploration of a ritual category, this theme of absent ritual fits into a broader trend in ritual studies.
In addition to a strong focus on ritual repertoires with a sort of "canonical" status (rites of passage, death rites, pilgrimage, etc.), attention has recently been paid to more problem-oriented and analytical categories of ritual. These categories focus more explicitly on ritual as a process of action and reaction, on different contexts and thus on the ritual dynamics. Examples are sharing ritual, failing ritual, denying ritual, contesting ritual, postponing ritual, and negotiating ritual.
The contributors to Absent Ritual engage this tradition of ritual categories and approaches with a very topical ritual category in hand, a type of ritual that enters a very prominent field of ritual dynamics. The first part of the book presents the concept and categories of absent ritual and the second part, the core of the book, consists of thematic case studies illustrating and exploring the categories of absent ritual.
This book is part of the Ritual Studies Monograph Series, edited by Pamela J. Stewart and Andrew Strathern, Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh.