•April 10, 2009 • 1 Comment

I can’t say I have ever attended any ANZAC day parades or ceremonies so I am really looking forward to attending this year, I think I will aim to make it to the dawn service- though it may be a bit too early for me. My grandfather was in WWII and has been buried in the returned servicemens section of Makara cemetery. Until a year and a half ago, this was the only cemetery I had been to for war veterans. However while on a trip to France in 2007 I visited the Douaumont Ossuary, a memorial site in Northern France dedicated to the soldiers of the Battle of Verdun in WWI. Through windows in the basement, you can see the bones of over 130,000 French and German unidentified soldiers massed together. After climbing to the top of the monument, I found myself looking out at over 25000 graves of soldiers who died in the Battle of Verdun, to see the vast number of graves in just one cemetery was overwhelming.  I visited several World War I battlefields in France, walked through the trenches, and explored the forts soldiers lived in during the war. It was an incredibly eye-opening experience and something I will never forget.  When you consider the estimation that over 34.7 million soldiers died during the two world wars, 30,000 of which were NZ soldiers it is clear to see the need for a day of remembrance such as ANZAC day.

For a small nation, New Zealand’s involvement in both world wars was impressive, it is important for us to never lose sight of the sacrifices thousands of young men made and the many lives lost.  We have ANZAC day to remember all those who fought during the wars and risked their lives for their country. I am really looking forward to doing this assignment and understanding more about the many aspects of this political ritual and its importance in our society.

Just some of the 25000 marked graves of soldiers who fell during the Battle of Verdun

Just some of the 25000 marked graves of soldiers who fell during the Battle of Verdun


The trenches on the French side, the German trenches were literally 300metres to the east

The trenches on the French side, the German trenches were literally 300metres to the east


Week4 reading

•March 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

So, I feel like I have neglected my blog for long enough and it is about time I got on to writing something about our readings. I have read the first article for the week 4 readings by David Gilmore. I found this article so much easier to read than the previous weeks readings were. I like how he looked at four different schools of thought/approaches to the concept of rituals in general and how they would each make sense of the Spanish Carnival. He has incorporated the way that structural-functionalists examine and classify the Carnival with his own opinions on it as well as an interpretive-symbolic approach, a Marxist approach and the concept that would suggest that people engage in certain rituals not to create social solidarity but to challenge social structure and harmony.

What I understood from the reading and just a general summary of it is:

 • Structural-functionalists tend to look at how social institutions function to meet the needs of people within a society and they focus on how those social institutions help the society function as a whole. Structural-functionalists tend to see a ritual like the Carnival as functioning to reaffirm social solidarity through the way in which it segregates individuals into their respective places in the social hierarchy, whilst still uniting the society as a whole by bringing all social classes and groups together in a sort of celebration of their distinctiveness.

• The Marxist approach: they tend to see rituals that involve people from all sectors of society as potentially hazardous to society as they can unite certain groups and challenge the social solidarity and the political structure of a society. Gilmore mentions how during deeply rooted rituals, new temporary social orders can be created which according to Marxist theory can hold the potential to destabilise a society and its structure.

• Interpretive-symbolic approach: this looks at the symbolic aspects of rituals and how those symbols represent and show the different aspects of the culture and belief system. This approach examines how the Spanish Carnival symbolically represents a freedom for those who are lower in the social hierarchy who get the chance to ‘act out’ or pretend as if they are rebelling against the political structure of their society and the “restrictions of the social order and its prevailing hierarchies.”

• According to the ‘safety valve’ concept, rituals like the Spanish carnival are considered ‘rebellious’ rituals because they involve embracing a new set of social identities for the duration of the carnival, where many things contradict standard social norms and structure. Gilmore goes on to discuss that a ritual like the carnival in which all social order is disrupted can serve to strengthen the standard social order by illustrating to people the need for their set societal structure in order to live in harmony and to prevent chaos.

Assignment idea…

•March 13, 2009 • 2 Comments

I have been struggling to come up with any good ideas for this observation assignment but I was thinking of doing around Manners Mall area. I was wanting to look at how people orient themselves around other people. I went and observed earlier in the week and I got caught up watching how some people would be walking down one side of the street and then spot the Red Cross or UNICEF people on the street and tended to move further towards the other side of the street to avoid being too close and having to actually say ‘no’ to them or be stuck listening to their spiel. Others became suddenly preoccupied in something like their phone or fiddling with their iPods,  or something caught their eye so they avoided making eye contact with them. It was like they wanted no contact with these people and sought ways to get away from them.

I also noticed a group of 5 schoolgirls all walking down the street linking arms in a long chain and how this made it harder for other members of the public to move around them. There are a lot of people with skateboards and on bikes around that area and I noticed how people on these other forms of transport weave in and out and move around pedestrians. I also saw when it was quite busy many people stand aside and let those pushing prams, in wheelchairs, and on mobility scooters have more room and make it easier for them to get through. Many couples walk down there holding hands, friends stand closer together than strangers do. I was thinking of looking at how people organise themselves around others when they are in small groups, large groups and by themselves along a busy pedestrianised street. I’m not sure if i’m on the right track with this assignment so any advise/input with this would be much appreciated 🙂

Documentary on Ritual

•March 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Hi all,

Starting tomorrow (thursday 12th march) on the National Geogrpahic channel is a documentary called Taboo. I haven’t seen it yet but I think it will relate really well with what we will be learning throughout the semester. It looks at different types of rituals from initiations, rites of passages, secular and religious rituals to sporting rituals and festivals. It looks at how the way we adorn our bodies gives us our sense of identity and shows how rituals that seem commonplace in one culture are considered ‘taboo’ in others and how some particular rituals hold different meanings for different cultures. The documentary is shown at various times thorughout the month- it is on at the following times:

  • Thursday 12th March: 5.30am, 9.30pm
  • Sunday 15th March: 2.30pm

Hello world!

•March 5, 2009 • 1 Comment

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