Accepted Paper:

Catalysing processes and conditions in ritual dynamics: the case of the Marian pilgrimage in El Rocío  


Eddy Plasquy (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)

Paper short abstract:

By introducing the concept of a 'catalyst' the paper intent to clarify some underlying processes and conditions that profoundly transformed the Marian pilgrimage in El Rocío (Spain) during the political transition after the dead of Franco in 1975.

Paper long abstract:

The insight that rituals are always changing has let to an increased interest in the different ways this transfer/transformation/transplacement takes place. Synchronic, diachronic and even reciprocal modes are thereby observed. This paper would like to draw the attention to a wide rage of processes and conditions which, in varying degrees, can accelerate a ritual dynamic through their interference with the contextual factors and internal dimensions of a ritual. The image of a 'catalyst' is thereby put forward to make a clear distinction between these catalysing processes and conditions and contextual elements as well as internal dimensions. The main difference between these and contextual elements lies in the fact that the latter exerts their influence only from the outside while the former becomes part of the internal dimensions of the ritual. On the other hand catalyst processes and conditions can't be conceptualised simply as internal dimensions because their presence is linked to the new situation and their influence is highly volatile. As a true 'catalyser' their dominant influence will fade away once a new ritual is established. The changes that underwent the Marian pilgrimage in the Spanish hamlet of El Rocío during the last 50 years, will be used as a example to elucidate this theoretical concept. More specifically, the importance of the political transition (after the dead of Franco in 1975) on the internal structure of the ritual and the way how this was profoundly transformed by it, will be analysed using ethnographic and historical data.

Panel W118
Ritual and reflection: tropes In transformation and transgression (Wenner-Gren workshop)