Towards a World Ritual: Noise From Windows During COVID-19

Alexandre Rigal, UC Berkeley

Can we speak of a society without rituals? Rituals create a group’s identity by way of collective categories, emotion and beliefs. The many extensions to the concept of the ritual more often than not have focused on local and national contexts. Given that scholars of rituals tend to miss globalization, and those studying globalization tend to miss rituals, we have a less clear understanding of if and how increasing globalization produces global rituals, or vice versa. Using a global crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, we investigate new ritual forms which are globalized. One of the most recognized collective actions during the early months of lockdown involved people clapping for healthcare workers. Our thesis is that this phenomenon constituted a ritual starting locally with near global reach, made possible by the perception of menace of COVID-19, in addition to the performance’s form and meaning, and a number of channels of diffusion.

Co-investigators: David Joseph-Goteiner, UC Berkeley

Research Status: Research completed, preparing to publish/present

Contact: Alexandre Rigal

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