GDRI Ritmo

Ritual actions and time:
Creation, destruction, transformation in Mesoamerica

Adopting an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective (ethnology, linguistics and ethnolinguistics, archaeology, epigraphy, iconology and ethnohistory), the network assembled intends to collectively examine the temporal dimension of ritual activity in past and present Mesoamerican societies. The project proposes to examine, in a broadened context, rituals that are apparently dissimilar, but all generate change (a ritual is understood as a series of specific, formalised actions that, by introducing a scenario that is different from those of everyday activities, produce more or less transitory changes within an initial context). This is particularly the case with regard to those linked to artefact production, life cycles, healing, conflict resolution, the enthronement of rulers and transfers of responsibilities, or practices relating to the occupation, abandonment, reuse or conversion of socialised spaces. Taking a cross-disciplinary approach, we will concentrate our attention on three principal categories of action—creating, destroying and transforming—that make it possible to understand the temporal dimension of transition processes. From an cross-disciplinary perspective, these categories have the advantage of being conducive to the joint exploration of a multiplicity of modes of action used in rites, in particular those stemming from actions on material and from performativity in gestures and speech—the focus of our attention.

Partners: The Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) ; the Université Paris Ouest-Nanterre La Défense ; the Université Paris 1- Panthéon-Sorbonne; The Mesoamerica Center of the University of Texas at Austin; the Middle American Research Institute at Tulane University; the University of California, Berkeley; the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (Ciesas); the Abteilung für Altamerikanistik und Ethnologie at the University of Bonn; the Università degli Studi di Napoli l’orientale; the Sapienza, Università di Roma

Research centers acting as project leaders: LESC (CNRS & Université Paris-Ouest); ArchAm (CNRS, et Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)

Network coordinators & contact : Valentina Vapnarsky ( and Philippe Nondédéo (

Scientific committee in France: Chloé Andrieu, Marie-Charlotte Arnauld, Dominique Michelet, Aurore Monod Becquelin Philippe Nondédéo, Perig Pitrou, Valentina Vapnarsky, Marie Chosson

International coordinators: Marcello Canuto, Flavia Cuturi, Nikolaï Grube, William Hanks, Olivier Le Guen, Alessandro Lupo, Tsubasa Okoshi, David Stuart

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Groupe d'enseignement et de recherche sur les Mayas et la Mésoamérique