Aarhus University Seal

Friday Café and talk by Associate Fellow Jesper Sørensen

This Friday Café Jesper Sørensen, AIAS Associate Fellow and Department of the Study of Religion, will give a talk on the topic: "Rites of disruption and technologies of the self: an investigation of ritual as cultural immune reactivity".

Info about event


Friday 24 May 2024,  at 15:00 - 19:00


AIAS Lounge, Høegh-Guldbergs Gade 6B, 8000 Aarhus C

Work by Sonja Bäumel.
Photo: Jesper Sørensen, AIAS Associate and the Department of the Study of Religion

On Friday 24th of May at 15:00 AIAS will host a Friday Café, where AIAS Associate Fellow Jesper Sørensen, will give a talk about his recently published book. The talk will be followed by snacks and drinks in the AIAS lounge.

About the talk:

Rites of disruption and technologies of the self: an investigation of ritual as cultural immune reactivity

It is an old insight that ritual behavior plays a central role in the formation and maintenance of social groups. Whether we attempt to ‘shake’ together a group of new students, or commemorate a special occasion in the history of an existing social formation, ritual is one of the prime cultural technologies employed. The questions are, why ritualized behavior is an effective means of aligning members of social groups, and whether ritual performance can tell us something about basic social formations and their internal relation.

In this talk, I will address these questions through a framework of cultural immune systems. Similar to the role of immune regulation in biological organisms of various sizes and complexities, social groups are regulated by cultural immune systems seeking to preserve the integrity of a social sphere. Following a short introduction to a predictive processing account of human cognition, I will focus on how ritual facilitates the formation of cognitive alignment between individuals and hence the gradual formation of cultural models able to ease coordination and coordination within groups. Ritual is seen as the primary method to disrupt nepotistic loyalties directed towards the kin-group in favor of loyalty towards the community at large. I will then focus on how, in modernity, this social function of ritual has gradually transformed into a technology supporting the formation, preservation and optimization of ‘an autonomous self’ that emerges in reaction to the disarticulation of social roles in modern (post-)industrial society.   


The Friday Café and talk is open to all. No registration is needed. Drinks and snacks will be served. If you have any questions, please contact: kamilla@aias.au.dk.