Nakul Singh: Durkheim & Jonathan Walton’s Talk

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I attended Dr. Jonathan Walton’s talk titled “This is my body, broken for you…” He talked about the increase in police violence against black people. The numerous deaths of black people that have been caused by the police have been causing an uproar in Harvard, so he decided to hold a peaceful demonstration called a die in. The demonstration, which was held at the church at Harvard on Sunday, involved the protesters laying on the ground and represented dead bodies. He received e-mails of people who complained that they went to the church to observe their religion and not a political protest. Dr. Walton then talked about how a protest is a ritual, he specifically said that it is a theatrical representation of injustice or resistance. And then he compared the ritual of protest, to the rituals of religion. The die in, where people lay down to represent corpses, is similar to how Christians drink wine and eat bread, which represents the body of Christ.

    The way that Dr. Walton described how protests are rituals made me think of the concept of collective consciousness. Collective consciousness is a force arising from participation in a shared system of beliefs and values, which mold and control human behavior, and it originates from the communal interactions and experiences of members of a society. Rituals are ceremonies consisting of a series of actions. With the violence that is happening in society, the community is coming together and performing these rituals of protest, because of their shared beliefs and values. Protests bring together many like-minded people, and together they perform acts that convey their message or demonstrate an injustice that is happening to them, in the hopes that other people will understand what is happening to them.

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