Communitas

Communitas is a concept coined by the anrthropologists Victor and Edith Turner in their ‘The Ritual Process‘ (Victor Turner 1969) & ‘Communitas: The Anthropology of Joy‘ (Edit Turner 2012). Mathieu Deflem critically outlines the conception of communitas and limnality ins his ‘Ritual, Anti-Structure, and Religion‘  (1991).

The Turners developed the idea and concept communitas during their fieldwork among the matrilineal Ndembu (indigenous people) in Tanzania. They studied the function and ‘active ingredients’ of ritual a in preventing and soving conflicts and afffliction in Ndembu communities. Communitas is the core experience during the ‘liminal phase’ transitional and healing rituals.

It seems that most Europeans lost their cultural capacity to co-create collective, transformative/healing, experiences of communitas.

With the help my teacher dr. Ronald Chavers, many young men, their families, professionals colleagues and students we were able to retrace and re-instate these ‘deep-safe’, transtional, experiences in culturally and religiously diverse groups of clients, clientsystems and students (van Bekkum 2002; van Bekkum et. al 2010; van Bekkum & Limahelu 2017; van Bekkum et. al 2018).

Emile Durkheim already in 1912 introduced a rather similar conception ‘collective effervescence‘ in his ‘Elementary Forms of Religious Life‘.

Communitas denotes collective emotional, both well-being and anxious, states during ritual in which temporarely all inequalities, differences, animosities, tensions may disappear.  These transitional (ritual/sacred) spaces are also transformational on both individual and collective (family/group) level. It may heal breaches to restore continuity in social (sub)systems and unprocessed traumatic events (Van Bekkum et. al. 2010; Van Bekkum & Limahelu 2017).

Frequent experiences, of various depths and intentions, of communitas seems to be the core business of how human communities re-orient themselves how to think and sync how nature works.

In anthropolo-gazing in this site I take Communitas, experienced in ritual, also as a frequent returning to animal paradise to honor our evolutionary roots.

De Akan (Ghana) practice of Sankofa has similar functions. (see modern Afro-Amaerican version HERE)

 

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