Every year, Dimitris Xygalatas travels to an a field site in Mauritius, an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, to perform research.
Xygalatas, assistant professor of anthropology, studies rituals such as dancing and music. At first glance, rituals might seem pointless but they actually play a fundamental role in people’s individual and social lives, he says.
Mauritius is an ideal place to study culture, and particularly ritual, because it is one of the most diverse societies in the world. The local population includes multiple ethnic, religious, and linguistic groups, that practice a wide range of religious rituals that range from the mundane to the extraordinary.
In his research, Xygalatas combines ethnographic observation with scientific measurements, using a great variety of measures to study the effects and the importance of these cultural practices on individuals and societies.