Ritual Authenticity as Social Criticism

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Rituals are often used as opportunities for self-reflection and identity construction. The Camino to Santiago de Compostela, which has become a singularly popular pilgrimage since the late ‘80s of the last century, is an example of a ritual that is explicitly used to gain a deeper understanding of one’s identity through distancing oneself from daily life and creating a space of contemplation. Implicit in this function of rituals in general, and the pilgrimage to Santiago in particular, is the assumption that one is more authentic and closer to one’s true identity during the pilgrimage, than one is in daily life. The ritual self, as an idealized identity, functions thus as a critique on one’s regular cultural identity. This critique also plays a role in the construction of a so-called authentic pilgrim identity, which creates a hierarchy in the ways the pilgrim identity can be appropriated by individuals. This presentation proposes to investigate both the ideal, ritual identity and the implicit critique towards the cultural dynamics that force the pilgrim to ‘not be her/himself’ in daily life.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Study of Culture through the Lens of Ritual
EditorsPaul Post, Logan Sparks
Place of PublicationGroningen/Amsterdam
PublisherInstituut voor Christelijk Erfgoed/Instituut voor Liturgische en Rituele Studies
ISBN (Print)9789036780056
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameNetherlands Studies in Ritual and Liturgy
PublisherInstitute for Ritual and Liturgical Studies
ISSN (Print)1571-8808


  • Ritual
  • Identity
  • Pilgrimage
  • Camino
  • Santiago de Compostela
  • authenticity


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