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date: 16 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Within those disciplines pursuing semiotic approaches to religion, recent decades have been characterized by a shift toward the pragmatic and performative dimensions of discourse. Roman Jakobson’s analysis of the poetic function of language has been extended to ritual, which in some cases deploys poetry to enhance rhetorical performance. The metricalization of ritual often constructs indexical icons that mirror and converge with real-world events that ritual seeks to bring about. The ability of the sign to figure something absent intersects with the general problem in religion concerning how (and whether) to represent transcendence. Semiotics is shifting attention from universalizing and formalist approaches to a study of cultural and historical differences, including differences in semiotic or linguistic ideologies. The semiotic ideology of modernity reflects an inheritance from Protestant iconoclasm: a bias against metaphysical and poetic language. Differences in semiotic ideology were on display in various colonial encounters between Europeans and indigenous peoples.

Keywords: colonial encounters, iconoclasm, myth, reflexivity, ritual language, semiosis, semiotic ideology, semiotics, semiotics of religion, structuralism

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