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Ritual, Taboo and Political Protest

Edward Croft Dutton


Published: 2006/12/01


The aim of this article is to examine a specific response of the group Unite Against Racism (UAR) to electoral victories by the British National Party (BNP) in terms of ritual dynamics. We will first discuss the nature of taboo drawing on the work of Douglas. This will be related to Turner's work on liminality and ritual and Edmund Leach's on taboo. The relationship between ritual and taboo will then be examined as will the BNP's policies in comparison to the beliefs of the UAR. Thereafter we will discuss the nature of the UAR's response to BNP victories and how this can be understood as being a ritual in the senses suggested by both Leach and Gilbert Lewis. The degree to which the BNP, or votes for the BNP in certain areas, might be seen to create taboo for UAR members will be discussed in depth. It will be demonstrated that the superficially senseless act of the UAR protesting against democracy makes sense when analysed as ritual.

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