Laterality: A Sideways Look at Ritual

Guest Lecture by Simon Coleman, University of Toronto.


In suggesting that anthropologists need to take more of a sideways, ‘lateral’ look at ritual I propose that there are many occasions when we need to shift our gaze away from apparent centres of action to observe seeming peripheries - sites of ritual fragmentation, indifference, ignorance, incoherence, or diffusion. Thus what I call laterality (as opposed to liminality) is constituted by drifting unpredictably across the semiotic and social territories of any given ritual field. I explore these themes through an examination of pilgrimage to - but also around, and away from - the Anglican and Roman Catholic shrines at Walsingham in England.


Simon Coleman is Chancellor Jackman Professor of Humanities at University of Toronto. Coleman is currently co-editor of the journal Religion and Society: Advances in Research and of the book series Ashgate Studies in Pilgrimage. He has carried out fieldwork in Sweden (Word of Life Ministry, Uppsala), the United Kingdom (Walsingham pilgrimage; the Redeemed Christian Church of God) and Nigeria (Redeemed Christian Church of God). Coleman has published extensively within a variety of fields and is widely known for his book The Globalization of Charismatic Christianity (Cambridge University Press). With Rosalind Hackett, he has just edited The Anthropology of Global Pentecostalism and Evangelicalism (New York University Press). With Dee Dyas (University of York) and Marion Bowman (Open University) he is engaged on an AHRC-funded project investigating past and present uses of English cathedrals.

The guest lecture is organized by the Cluster for the Interdisciplinary Research on Religion, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies. For any questions contact associate professor Andreas Bandak.