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A comparative historical study on the importance of rituals from a sociological perspective. social science
Expertise key words:
Ritual Politics in Fifteenth-Century Egypt and Syria:
(815/1412-872/1467 ((or 922/1517?)))
Legitimising, Structuring and Protecting the Order
An Interdisciplinary (or sociological) Approach to the Significance of Ritual in Mamluk Socio-Political Praxis
Table of Contents
The Mamlūk Sultanate as a ‘Theater State’
* Theater state (intr. Geertz) Hier = performative dimension of state and public interactivity in what Erving Goffman regards as the dramaturgical aspect of power relations.
Research questions (still unclear how to formulate my research questions):
I just know I want to research:
Central question: Role, importance and meaning of Mamlūk ritual in politics → Mamlūk socio-political practice, cultural expression from a ritual perspective; omnipresence of ritual, integral part of any socio-political fabric; quintessential feature of the highly ritualized nature of the Mamluk sultanate;
– Interpretation of meaning of rituals: Authors and their role (live in the same cultural mindset)
– Continuity and change in ritual practice, working with 15th century chronicles and administrative manuals
Unusual or new rituals, or innovations in old rituals may be described more elaborately, manipulation of rituals, abolishing rituals.
– Origin, evolution of rituals
GOAL: SYNTHESIS MANY THEORIES AND APPROACHES
such as their having to do with embodiment, emotions, language, transmission, and also their being complex, dynamic, (presumably) efficacious, and framed.
“Episodes of repeated and simplified cultural communication, in which the direct partners to a social interaction, and those observing it, share a mutual belief in the descriptive and prescriptive validity of the communication’s symbolic contents and accept the authenticity of one another’s intentions. It is because of this shared understanding of intention and content, and in the intrinsic validity of the interaction, thatrituals have their effect and affect.”
– Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger – Rituale !!!
– Definition political rituals (Catherine Bell)
– “political rituals comprise those ceremonial practices that specifically construct, display and promote the power of political institutions or the political interests of distinct constituencies and subgroups.”
– Ritual Politics = the use of political rituals
– Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger – Rituale !!!
– Gerd Althoff: die Macht der Rituale !!!
(Ritual Politics = more effective than coercive force in securing people’s acceptance to a particular order (=coercive force more time consuming, less effective and arouses more resistance))
Analysis / Interpretation of Sources (consideration motives of authors)
Source → Inference → Justified Belief
Discussion Sources & Disourse
(The state of the sources sets the limits to the study. Taking into account the limits of the material I work with and that authors have their own political agenda, the challenge is to make shift with what is available.
The chronicles used in the MP3 database (and others), and biographical dictionaries are the main sources I work with).
In addition to the Khitat and administrative manuals dating from the same period, like al-Saḥmāwī, al-Zahiri’s Zubdat Kashf, in order to compare the ideal prescriptive world of the administrative manuals with the common practice as described in the chronicles an BD covering the 15th century.)
(comparing with 14th century)
voice (“who” tells the story)?; discourses = representations of reality
3 MAIN PARTS/BULK 5a) 5b) 5c)
Analysis of Ritual Praxis
Legitimisation of the Rule
= authority + belief (mutual relations rule + ruled)
→ symbols = referents (performance perceived as real, as having an ontological status, not as a script)
b) The sultan as the material embodiment of the political order
b1. Inauguration: Form of Self-Legitimation
b2. sultanic regalia: iconicity of the sultanate
Mamluks no longer ‘Guardians of Islam’ (still holy cities)
→ ‘religious’ rituals: ʿĪd, Maḥmal, Recitation Bukhārī, …
Maḥmal, Recitation Bukhārī, Islamic,…
Role Caliph diminishes, other examples, 14th century??
= Legitimacy vis-à-vis civil society
Linda Darling the Circle of Justice
“state” subject to a law
Justice = peace, protection, good organization, and a functional infrastructure vs. resources, revenue the rulers needed in order to perform their functions
“production” humans create the space in which they make their lives; it is a project shaped by interests of classes, experts, the grassroots, and other contending forces. “Space” is produced and reproduced through human intentions.
– workd of Behrens-Abouseif
To what extent as mentioned in the sources?
1a. Introduction: Public Sphere as a Social Stage
-ritual positioning of the various manṣab holders defined their precedence and place in the political hierarchy
1b. Processions/ mawkib
non-violent, non-repressive form of domination
type of theatrical performance notably apt to be used in politics
1c. Formal meetings: khidma / majlis
1d. Military Ceremonies (peaceful)
1e. Perfuming the Nilometer/Cutting the Canal
2) Status and Hierarchy
– Relationship Manṣab (office holding) vs Individual?
Manṣab as ritual favour?
2c. Material Culture:
= “Standardized expressive equipment” (Goffman 1956)
– sultanate = gift culture
– = constitutive of the social order
– forming bonds
– not just material items, but services, hospitality, and other intangibles
– dense networks of exchanges and the resulting bonds ultimately constitute the social order.
– gifts in general are seen less as voluntary acts than as part of the obligation involved in being part of the culture.
– receipt of a gift is usually understood as a putting into debt of the recipient by the donor.
– honor / reward
– (Andrew Cowell)
– Behrens-Abouseif: Practising Diplomacy in the Mamluk Sultanate: Gifts and Material Culture in the Medieval Islamic World!!!
– Rebellion/ Obedience
– Punishment: Ritual tool for social control
– basic part of the rituals that uphold any social structure
– enhancing group solidarity
– channeling and resolving social conflict
– exercising power (Foucault).
– Military Rituals (Violent)
– prisoners of war/ punishment
– symbolic capturing of a city or capital
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