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Turner, Edith (1921-2016)

Edith (Edie) Turner (1921-2016) was a British anthropologist, famous for her humanistic approach to religious and symbolic phenomena. She collaborated with her husband, Victor Turner (1920-1983), both during fieldwork among the Ndembu (Zambia), and in the creation of ritual-related conceptual tools, such as the notion of communitas, which are among the most influential of the 20th century. After settling with him in the United States in 1955, she took an anthropological path on her own account, but especially after her husband’s death, which gave more and more space to the experience of the reality of spirits and avoided imposing Western interpretations on the faith felt by social actors. Edith Turner unashamedly revealed her own mystical experience and remains an alternative, inspiring voice in the anthropological universe.

Keywords: Social and cultural anthropology | Humanist anthropology | Experience | Ireland | Zambia | Alaska | Ndembu | Religion | Initiation rituals | Rites of passage | Shamanism | Healing rituals | Symbolism | Belief | Victor Turner