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date: 24 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This essay discusses politically motivated contests over the authenticity of ritualized emotion, such as weeping or visionary bliss, which can be contests internal to a community or between different communities, as in the context of charges of appropriation across traditions. It also examines scholarly debates over cognition and culture, or the relative importance of neurophysiological versus social and cultural influences on the origin, function, and meaning of ritual. It argues that the study of ritual and emotion needs to attend to embodiment and physicality, as well as to the social, historical, and cultural networks within which ritualized emotions “make sense.” But first it looks at various definitions of ritual before commenting on crocodile tears and the authenticity of ritual emotion.

Keywords: ritual, ritual emotion, authenticity, crocodile tears, visionary bliss, cognition, culture, embodiment, physicality

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