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Article Title

Ritual Identity

Abstract

Rituals are often used as opportunities for self-reflection and identity construction. The Camino to Santiago de Compostela, which has become a singularly popular pilgrimage since the late 1980s, is an example of a ritual that is explicitly used to gain a deeper understanding of one’s identity through distancing oneself from daily life and creating a space of contemplation. Implicit in this function of rituals in general, and the pilgrimage to Santiago in particular, is the assumption that one is more authentic and closer to one’s true identity during the pilgrimage than one is in daily life. The ritual self, as an idealised identity, functions thus, as a critique of one’s regular cultural identity. This chapter proposes to investigate both the ideal, ritual identity and the implicit critique towards the cultural dynamics that force the pilgrim to ‘not be her/himself’ in daily life.

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