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Victor Turner

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Name  Victor Turner

Victor Turner Teora e historia antropolgica Victor Turner ritual y
Died  December 18, 1983, Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
Education  University College London, University of Manchester
Books  The ritual process, forest of symbols, Dramas - fields - and metaphors, From ritual to theatre, Image and pilgrimage in Christi
Similar People  Alfred Radcliffe‑Brown, Michelle Belanger, Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, Edgar Allan Poe

10e seven classic theories of religion victor turner on rites of passage

Victor Witter Turner (28 May 1920 – 18 December 1983) was a British cultural anthropologist best known for his work on symbols, rituals and rites of passage. His work, along with that of Clifford Geertz and others, is often referred to as symbolic and interpretive anthropology.


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Performance studies an introduction victor turner s social drama

Early life

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Victor Turner was born in Glasgow, Scotland, son to Norman and Violet Turner. His father was an electrical engineer and his mother a repertory actress who founded the Scottish National Players. Turner initially studied poetry and classics at the University College London. In 1941, Turner was drafted into World War II, and served as a noncombatant until 1944. During his three years of service he met and married Edith Turner; their children include scientist Robert Turner, poet Frederick Turner, and Goucher College anthropology professor Rory Turner. He returned to University College in 1946 with a new focus on anthropology. He later pursued graduate studies in anthropology at Manchester University.


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Turner worked as research officer for the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute. It was through the position that Turner started his lifelong study of the Ndembu tribe of Zambia. He completed his PhD in 1955. Like many of the Manchester anthropologists of his time, he also became concerned with conflict, and created the new concept of social drama in order to account for the symbolism of conflict and crisis resolution among Ndembu villagers. Turner spent his career exploring rituals. As a professor at the University of Chicago, Turner began to apply his study of rituals and rites of passage to world religions and the lives of religious heroes. He and his wife converted to Catholicism in 1958.

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Turner explored Arnold van Gennep's threefold structure of rites of passage and expanding theories on the liminal phase. Van Gennep's structure consisted of a pre-liminal phase (separation), a liminal phase (transition), and a post-liminal phase (reincorporation). Turner noted that in liminality, the transitional state between two phases, individuals were "betwixt and between": they did not belong to the society that they previously were a part of and they were not yet reincorporated into that society. Liminality is a limbo, an ambiguous period characterized by humility, seclusion, tests, sexual ambiguity, and communitas.

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Turner was also a committed ethnographer and produced work on ritual.


Turner died on 18 December 1983 in Charlottesville, Virginia. After his death, his widow Edith Turner embarked on her own career as an anthropologist. She developed upon Victor's "anthropology of experience" with a publication on communitas.


Author Chuck Palahniuk was quoted in The Believer as saying, "So often what I’m doing is dramatizing the writings of Victor Turner, who wrote a lot about liminal and liminoid events."


  • The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual (1967), Cornell University Press 1970 paperback: ISBN 0-8014-9101-0
  • Schism and Continuity in an African Society (1968), Manchester University Press
  • The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure (1969), Aldine Transaction 1995 paperback: ISBN 0-202-01190-9
  • Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society (1974), Cornell University Press 1975 paperback: ISBN 0-8014-9151-7
  • Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture (1978), Edith L. B. Turner (coauthor), Columbia University Press 1995 paperback: ISBN 0-231-04287-6
  • From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play (1982), PAJ Publications paperback: ISBN 0-933826-17-6
  • Liminality, Kabbalah, and the Media (1985), Academic Press
  • The Anthropology of Performance (1986), PAJ Publications paperback: ISBN 1-55554-001-5
  • The Anthropology of Experience (1986), University of Illinois Press 2001 paperback: ISBN 0-252-01249-6
  • References

    Victor Turner Wikipedia