This volume focusses on the ways discourse is used in ritual performances as an important medium of power, enabling speakers/actors to construct, redefine and transform interpersonal relationships, cultural concepts and worldviews. The various case studies gathered here, from South Asia, South East Asia, Africa and South America, show that recent developments in linguistic anthropology, ritual theory and performance studies provide new conceptual tools to take a fresh look at these issues. Foregrounding pragmatic approaches to language and discourse, they explore the social dynamics of rhetorical discourse, text and context, normativity and creativity, the poetics of dialogue and speech, as well as the manifold interactions of speakers, addressees and audience. The volume thus embraces both the micro-level of speech activities as well as the macro-level of social and political relationships and brings out the subtle workings of control, authority, and power in situations marked as ritual. The contributions, all based on extensive fieldwork, include many concrete samples of speech and discourse which give an authentic impression of the different voices and make for vivid reading.