Ceri HoulbrookNov 27, 2023
‘Ritual Litter' Redressed
Cambridge University Press 2022
Ritual deposition is not an activity that many people in the Western world would consider themselves participants of. The enigmatic beliefs and magical thinking that led to the deposition of swords in watery places and votive statuettes in temples, for example, may feel irrelevant to the modern day.
However, Dr. Ceri Houlbrook shows in ‘Ritual Litter' Redressed (Cambridge University Press, 2023) that ritual deposition is a more widespread feature now than in the past, with folk assemblages – from roadside memorials and love-lock bridges, to wishing fountains and coin-trees – emerging prolifically worldwide. Despite these assemblages being as much the result of ritual activity as historically deposited objects, they are rarely given the same academic attention or heritage status. As well as exploring the nature of ritual deposition in the contemporary West, and the beliefs and symbolisms behind various assemblages, this Element explores the heritage of the modern-day deposit, promoting a renegotiation of the pejorative term 'ritual litter'.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.