The performance space of a ritual provides an avenue to transcend cultural boundaries, giving space to taboo topics. This panel looks at language use in rituals surrounding sex and sexualities exploring how ritual spaces provide a platform for reading changing forms of gender and power identities.
Rituals serve as a means of initiating different members of the society into the secrets of the community. They focus on various subject matters deemed important and they serve to play different social roles in the community. Mostly, they serve as markers that allow members to transit from one stage to another, they prepare members with requisite skills, vocabulary and values that go alongside the new obligation arising from their positions at different stages of life. In many African communities, the major rituals include initiation/circumcision rituals, marriage rituals, death rituals, among others. In different communities, the performance space of a ritual provides an avenue to transcend cultural boundaries and this is usually achieved through verbalisation of taboo topics such as sex and sexualities. However, the rituals take place within a gendered space and the verbalisation of the taboo topics also become gendered. This panel looks at such platforms, paying a particular interest to language use in rituals surrounding sex and sexualities, the changing nature of different cultures and their rituals, focusing not only on the traditional rituals but also looking at other emerging rituals and their spaces of performance to explore how verbalisation of taboo topics within the ritual space provides a platform for reading changing forms of gender and power identities.