Having just finished up the Week 8 reading by Julio Alves, “Transgressions and Transformations: Initiation Rites among Urban Portuguese Boys,” I thought it would make as good a blog topic as any. The study focuses on a unique example of rites of initiation found in the working-class communities of urban Portugal.  It is unique in that the young boys who participate have constructed these rites within their own peer groups and without any guidance or structuring from adults.

Alves describes how nine and ten year old boys perform daring and destructive rampages and then narrate their experiences to their peer group as a way of emerging into manhood. He draws a lot upon the work of Van Gennep and Turner relating to rites of passage and rites of initiation. The boys’ participation in rampages as well as their narrative accounts of it allowed them to increase their power and popularity within their peer group and provided them the opportunity to advance into manhood.

I am impressed at the depth of the analysis Alves undertook which included carefully tracing the verb usage and tone within the boys’ “rampage narratives.”  However I think it would have been interesting had he included more than the two participants whom he refers to in his article.  I found it to be a very interesting article though and an excellent study of a different sort of initiation ritual. It goes to show how such rites can take a variety of forms within different cultures.

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