Ritual and authority in world politics

Jorg Kustermans, Ted Svensson, Julia Costa López, Tracey Blasenheim, Alvina Hoffmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The contributions to this Forum on Ritual and Authority in World Politics examine the role that ritual performances play in the constitution of positions of authority and the maintenance of relations of authority in historical and contemporary international relations. The Forum takes as its point of departure three related observations: (i) that recent years have witnessed a remarkable upsurge of interest in ritual as a recurring feature of international practice, but (ii) that this recent interest in ritual has not extended, thus far, to the study of international authority, (iii) in spite of political anthropologists’ long-standing claim that the performance of ritual is absolutely crucial to the production of authority. The performance of ritual grounds, makes tangible and enhances various forms of authority, including forms of international authority, historical and contemporary. The contributions to this Forum demonstrate the veracity of that claim in five different empirical contexts—Byzantine diplomacy, early modern cross-cultural encounters, British imperialism in India, military lawyering in America’s armed forces, and the casting of ballots in Crimea and the US—and attempt also to explain precisely how it is that ritual served to undergird and stabilise authority in these various instances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-30
Number of pages29
JournalCambridge Review of International Affairs
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2022


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