Dimitris Xygalatas received a fellowship award from University of Connecticut’s Humanities Institute for the academic year 2016-17. These residential Fellowships allow scholars to pursue advanced work in the humanities. During his tenure at UCHI, Dr. Xygalatas will pursue work on the social functions of ritual.
From fire-walking to meditation, and from graduation ceremonies to wine toasting, rituals are everywhere. But what purpose do they serve? Dimitris Xygalatas combines anthropology, science, and technology to answer this question.
Maria Konnikova from The New Yorker covers work of UConn Anthropology faculty Dimitris Xygalatas:
Pain Really Does Make Us Gain
Last year, Dimitris Xygalatas, the head of the experimental anthropology lab at the University of Connecticut, decided to conduct a curious experiment in Mauritius, during the annual Thaipusam festival, a celebration of the Hindu god Murugan. For the ten days prior to the festival, devotees abstain from meat and sex. As the festival begins, they can choose to show their devotion in the form of several communal rituals…
Dimitris Xygalatas’s recent piece on ritual suffering in Aeon Magazine:
Trial by fire:
From fire-walking to the ice-bucket challenge, ritual pain and suffering forge intense social bonds
On the Day of Ashura, Shia Muslims around the world gather to mourn the Imam, Husayn ibn Ali, and his defeat in the battle of Karbala (in present-day Iraq) in 680AD. They slash their heads and backs using swords or iron chains with blades until the streets are covered in blood…