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Cultural Rites of Passage

  • Date Submitted: 09/16/2012 07:51 PM
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AN310 Introducing Cultural Anthropology Rev. 1
Assignment_08, Cultural “Rites of Passage”
January 13, 2012

Culture is one thing that we can never overlook. Everywhere we go, we have to observe and respect the cultures of the people despite our personal feelings about that particular culture. Culture is a word that is used daily by many people all over the world and most of those people do not mean precisely the same thing when they use it. One definition that I truly liked is, “Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”

If you travel, or have travelled, around the world and you would have seen many different kinds of people. Some of those people might have had the longest neck created by stretching them with several rings while another group of people had lots of scars on their faces. Ignorantly, we’d think that these people are simply primitive and become judgemental. In our own society we get married, graduate; we get baptized and go through so many more ritualized ceremonies that helps us make the transition from one stage to another.   Arnold Van Gennep called all these and more the “Rites of Passage".   He wrote that the life of an individual in any society is a series of passages from one age to another and from one occupation to another.

Other rites of passages include male and female circumcision. For the boys, this involves removing the foreskin of the penis. In many cultures, this is used to mark the socially recognized transition to sexual maturity. The female's passage into womanhood is her first menses. A lot of Native American societies celebrated this transition and certain ceremonies were performed during this time to inform the public that their daughters were becoming women and instructions were given on how to behave as a woman and wife.

One of my favorite is the Moko of the New Zealand Maori people. I...


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