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Old rituals, changing environments, new rules III [SIEF Working Group on The Ritual Year] 
Nina Vlaskina (Russian Academy of Sciences, Southern Scientific Centre)
Irina Stahl (Institute of Sociology, Romanian Academy)
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Wednesday 23 June, -
Time zone: Europe/Helsinki

Short Abstract:

The panel examines a variety of cases in which people adapt old rituals (both secular and religious) to coincide with the circumstances of changing environments. Causes and agents of change, challenges and mechanism of adaptation etc. are explored. The round table will focus on the ongoing pandemic.

Long Abstract:

Rituals are thought to be immutable. In reality, they slowly evolve over time and space. However, sometimes they change rapidly in response to events, which challenge social cohesion. The past few decades have witnessed accelerated social and cultural transformations, induced by economic conditions, political and ideological changes, wars and the resultant migrations, a general increase in the mobility of people (rural to urban and vice versa), plagues, natural disasters and new technologies. These events have resulted in people adapting old rituals (secular and religious) to coincide with the rules of the new environments. Changing old rituals often occasions resistance and even conflicts (e.g., the religiously faithful's objections to changes in the administration of the Holy Eucharist during the Covid-19 pandemic).

The panel addresses the following or related themes: changes in rituals (what aspects can be changed and what remains unchanged), causes and agents of change, challenges and mechanism of adaptation, loss of rituals, cultural cohesion, place-making etc. The reconfiguring gender roles in society and in rituals respectively, rethinking the concept of health and consequently proper ritual food, praising of selective features of traditional culture (e.g., within the 'new sincerity' movement) will also be discussed. Of particular interest are examples of changes in rituals due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This will serve as the main topic of the roundtable, which will follow the panel sessions.