"Ritual, Politics, and Power" by David I. Kertzer

Ritual, Politics, and Power David I. Kertzer

Format:
Paperback
Publication date:
19 Sep 1989
ISBN:
9780300043624
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
258 pages: 235 x 156mm
Sales territories:
World

In the most comprehensive study of political ritual yet written, David I. Kertzer explains why ritual has been and will continue to be an essential part of political life. Weaving together examples from around the world and throughout history, Kertzer shows that the success of all political groups, whether conservative or revolutionary, is linked to their effective use of ritual.
“The author delights the reader with numerous excursions into the political rites of the Aztecs, the contemporary Soviet Union, the French Revolution, colonial Africa, the Italian Communist Party, and a host of others, all richly and amusingly analyzed. . . . This is. . . political anthropology as it should be, directed at an interdisciplinary audience, and demonstrating to non-anthropologists the vital relevance of ethnographic comparison for political theory.”—Robert W. Hefner, American Anthropologist
“A major work in comparative political culture, this book should be mandatory reading for all undergraduate and graduate students of politics.”—Choice
“An important and compelling book, one that illuminates the role of ritual in human life, as well as the nature of politics. Written in a lucid and graceful style, it should appeal to the general reader as well as to anthropologists and political scientists.”—Charles E. Silberman, author of A Certain People and Criminal Violence, Criminal Justice.

"An important work that makes a valuable contribution to the study of politics and of culture. Fascinating, amusing, and topical, it will be of interest to the general public as well as to scholars."?Myron J. Aronoff, Rutgers University


"An important and compelling book, one that illuminates the role of ritual in human life, as well as the nature of politics. Written in a lucid and graceful style, it should appeal to the general reader as well as to anthropologists and political scientists."?Charles E. Silberman, author of A Certain People and Criminal Violence, Criminal Justice

 


"Kertzer offers a cogent account of the influence of ritual in politics and impressive range of examples."?Murray Edelman, University of Wisconsin-Madison


"Kertzer credibly argues that political symbols manifested through rites explain much of the political life of modern nations."?Library Journal


"Ritual moves and shakes public life-as varied, shrewd, ubiquitous, indispensable today as ever in the tragedy of man. Apparently, it is too obvious to be seen?until a piercing eye and a robust global experience gather to us a theme."?Earl W. Count, Key Reporter


"This ambitious analysis of comparative political rituals and myths is both insightful and comprehensive. Kertzer ably achieves his primary goal of showing the importance of political symbols and rituals for our understanding of all political systems. An interesting and clear narrative guides readers through the examination of cases from small-scale nonliterate societies to the complex nations. . . . A major work in comparative political culture, this book should be mandatory reading for all undergraduate and graduate students of politics."?Choice


"Engagingly written . . . this book seeks to correct what the author regards as the widespread tendency among social theorists to see political institutions as 'simply the outcome of different interest groups competing for material resources'. . . . A wide-ranging and thoughtful work. The author delights the reader with numerous excursions into the political rites of the Aztecs, the contemporary Soviet Union, the French revolution, colonial Africa, the Italian Communist Party, and a host of others, all richly and amusingly analyzed. His discussion of just how ritual can enhance solidarity even without creating shared meanings or beliefs is an insightful corrective to more conventional interpretive views. While not intended as a comprehensive theory of communication and power, this is nonetheless political anthropology as it should be, directed at an interdisciplinary audience, and demonstrating to nonanthropologists the vital relevance of ethnographic comparison for political theory."?Robert W. Hefner, American Anthropologist


"Kertzer illustrates his discussions with an impressively wide-ranging collection of cross-cultural examples."?Ronald L. Grimes, Journal of Religion


"Kertzer's discussion of the links between rituals, politics, and power is challenging, thought provoking, and tightly reasoned."?Ray C. Rist, Executive Educator


"Kertzer presents a rich array of materials ranging from rituals in certain archaic societies of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and South America, to more modern cases from Italy, India, France, the United States, Germany, Soviet Russia and South Africa."?Willard Mullins, Canadian Journal of Political Science


"[A] richly documented study. . . . David Kertzer is to be congratulated for opening up an area of study that has such significance as an explanation of the political world around us."?Geoffrey R. Debnam, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science


"The book is well written, and the examples are instructive. . . . They hold a reader's interest."?Bertil L. Hanson, Perspective


"His rich examples drawn from a wide range of settings extend the insights of American political scientists such as Edelman, Bennett, and Elder and Cobb in a comparative direction. He addresses important issues concerning how ritual works in building organization, in creating political legitimacy and solidarity, in understanding the political universe. Also covered is the central role of ritual in political conflict, and ways in which ritual is central in movements for change."?Marc Howard Ross, Journal of Politics


"This is a useful book. . . . Part of the usefulness of Kertzer's book is in telling us in numerous ways that ritual is virtually ignored in the study of modern states and their political processes, especially in the works of political scientists and sociologists. . . . Kertzer's scope is comparative, using numerous apt illustrations from nonstate and state societies to explicate his points."?Don Handelman, American Ethnologist


"In a comprehensive study of political ritual, the author argues that it has always been and will continue to be an essential part of political life, used to symbolize, simplify, and enhance political messages. Weaving together examples from around the world and throughout history, the author shows the many ways in which ritual is employed in politics."?Presidential Studies Quarterly


"[A] valuable survey."?Michael S. Kimmel, American Journal of Sociology


"Kertzer writes entertainingly on political rites widely separated by space and time. . . . He is mainly interested in how our own rites and symbols, which seem so natural and inevitable as to hide their symbolic nature, hold us in thrall. He shows how ritual is used to fire or suppress political conflict, build political movements, establish political legitimacy, and obscure the absence of political consensus."?John Gabree, New York Newsday


"A wide-ranging introductory analysis of political rituals. . . . This is a very broad-ranging book. The author has clearly had great fun writing it; his references and reading list are impressive in their breadth and catholicity."?Evelyn S. Rawski, Journal of Social History