The syntactic roles of touch in shared festivals in Kerala: towards an analysis of ritual categories

Gamliel, O. (2019) The syntactic roles of touch in shared festivals in Kerala: towards an analysis of ritual categories. Entangled Religions, 10, (doi: 10.13154/er.10.2019.8436)

206363.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.



The following discussion of touch as a syntactic-semantic unit in ritual structures is based on an analogy of ritual and language postulating a 'deep structure' or a 'universal grammar' for rituals as presented by Frits Staal, Axel Michaels, and Naphtali Meshel. Following E. Thomas Lawson and Robert N. McCauley in their cognitive approach to ritual competence and in identifying actions as building blocks in ritual structures, I propose an analysis of ritual events as a category with distinctive semantic and syntactic properties and within the framework of ritual communication and ritual competence. I extend Martina Wiltschko’s universal spine hypothesis for linguistic categories to the language-ritual analogy in the domains of semantics and syntax. The viability of this analytical framework is demonstrated by categorizing touching events in rituals in shared festivals in Kerala. I conclude the discussion by hypothesizing universal categories for ritual events and entities, and universal structural patterns partially analogous (perhaps even homologous) to categories and patterns used in Wiltschko’s universal spine hypothesis.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:I am greatly indebted to the Käte Hamburger Kolleg “Dynamics in the History of Religions between Asia and Europe” at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum for supporting my research on shared festivals in Kerala and funding my fieldwork in January-February 2016. The paper also benefited from work under the auspices of the European Research Council (ERC) and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement n°647467—JEWSEAST) during my employment term in 2017.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gamliel, Dr Ophira
Authors: Gamliel, O.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Journal Name:Entangled Religions
Publisher:Kaete Hamburger Kolleg Dynamiken der Religionsgeschichte Zwischen Asien und Europa
ISSN (Online):2363-6696
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 Ophira Gamliel
First Published:First published in Entangled Religions 10 (2019)
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record