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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Between ontological transformation and the imagination of tradition: girls' puberty rituals in twenty-first century Botswana
Author:Verner, Pnina
Year:2014
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa (ISSN 0022-4200)
Volume:44
Issue:3-4
Pages:355-385
Language:English
Geographic term:Botswana
Subjects:girls' initiation
traditions
rituals
modernization
Link:https://doi.org/10.1163/15700666-12340013
Abstract:The paper contrasts two puberty rituals in Botswana: the Tswapong puberty ritual, the 'mothei', conceived of as effecting an ontological change in being and personhood, with the newly invented Kgatla puberty ritual. The latter, it is argued, while reflecting authority and embracing a collective tribal identity, lacks the ordeals of death and rebirth inherent in the 'mothei' ritual. The author proposes that rituals may lose aspects of their ontological inscription of gendered personhood and subjectivity while assuming new political or policy-related functions. The paradox highlighted is that despite endowing girls with 'dignity' and moral agency within a 'society of women', Tswapong girls are increasingly refusing to be initiated in the face of 'modern times', backed by teachers who regard the ritual as archaic, while concurrently southern Tswana Kgatla are enthusiastically mobilizing mass girls' initiations under the supervision of Kgatla royals with political agendas. The paper reflects on these apparent paradoxes of cultural authenticity as rituals change, hybridize, and are reinvented. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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