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Folklorist Arnold van Gennep’s masterwork, The Rites of Passage, has been a staple of anthropological education for more than a century. First published in French in 1906, and translated into English by the University of Chicago Press in 1960, this landmark book explores how the life of an individual in any society can be understood as a succession of stages: birth, puberty, marriage, parenthood, advancement to elderhood, and, finally, death. Van Gennep’s command of the ethnographic record enabled him to discern crosscultural patterns in rituals of separation, transition, and incorporation. With compelling precision, he elaborated the terms that would both define twentieth-century ritual theory and become a part of our everyday lexicon.
This augmented new edition of his work demonstrates how we can still make use of its enduring critical tools to understand our own social, religious, and political worlds. Featuring an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning anthropologist and historian David I. Kertzer, this edition reminds readers just how startlingly insightful The Rites of Passage remains a century after its initial publication.
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