Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

Ritual Disrobement at Mardi Gras: Ceremonial Exchange and Moral Order

Wesley Shrum and John Kilburn
Social Forces
Vol. 75, No. 2 (Dec., 1996), pp. 423-458
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2580408
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2580408
Page Count: 36
  • Download ($42.00)
  • Subscribe ($19.50)
  • Cite this Item
Ritual Disrobement at Mardi Gras: Ceremonial Exchange and Moral Order
Preview not available

Abstract

This article examines public nudity and gifts of beads in the French Quarter of New Orleans at Mardi Gras as components of a new ceremonial exchange ritual. The three ritual paradigms identified are based on the (1) social and spatial relationships between actors and the (2) provision of symbolic goods and services. The central focus is public disrobement, a ritual interpreted in terms of cultural codes involving market relations, gender, and hierarchy. What seems to be mere debauchery is an expression of moral commitment to an economic system in which conventional notions of gender and hierarchy are deeply embedded. Three main questions are addressed: How does ritual develop? Why does it take the general form it does? What accounts for variation in ritual performances? Results from an analysis of 1,205 interactions during the 1991 Mardi Gras festival show that (1) both males and females participate in ritual disrobement in exchange for ceremonial beads, (2) gender patterning in the character of the ritual is shaped strongly by spatial configuration, and (3) the ritual order of exchange is a function of the hierarchical symbolism inherent in the relation between balcony and street.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
[423]
    [423]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
424
    424
  • Thumbnail: Page 
425
    425
  • Thumbnail: Page 
426
    426
  • Thumbnail: Page 
427
    427
  • Thumbnail: Page 
428
    428
  • Thumbnail: Page 
429
    429
  • Thumbnail: Page 
430
    430
  • Thumbnail: Page 
431
    431
  • Thumbnail: Page 
432
    432
  • Thumbnail: Page 
433
    433
  • Thumbnail: Page 
434
    434
  • Thumbnail: Page 
435
    435
  • Thumbnail: Page 
436
    436
  • Thumbnail: Page 
437
    437
  • Thumbnail: Page 
438
    438
  • Thumbnail: Page 
439
    439
  • Thumbnail: Page 
440
    440
  • Thumbnail: Page 
441
    441
  • Thumbnail: Page 
442
    442
  • Thumbnail: Page 
443
    443
  • Thumbnail: Page 
444
    444
  • Thumbnail: Page 
445
    445
  • Thumbnail: Page 
446
    446
  • Thumbnail: Page 
447
    447
  • Thumbnail: Page 
448
    448
  • Thumbnail: Page 
449
    449
  • Thumbnail: Page 
450
    450
  • Thumbnail: Page 
451
    451
  • Thumbnail: Page 
452
    452
  • Thumbnail: Page 
453
    453
  • Thumbnail: Page 
454
    454
  • Thumbnail: Page 
455
    455
  • Thumbnail: Page 
456
    456
  • Thumbnail: Page 
457
    457
  • Thumbnail: Page 
458
    458