[Reader-list] RAGGING: other examples

Pauline van Morik Broekman pauline at metamute.com
Thu Jul 1 21:44:51 IST 2004

Dear Shivam and Michiel,

Strange: even though I'm Dutch and have observed, or rather listened
to, stories about these practices a lot in my youth, for most of your
thread I didn't know what the hell ragging was. I actually had to
look it up on the Net to figure out what you were talking about.

As regards your interest in 'ragging' practices outside of India, and
the comment someone made that, perhaps in contradistinction, the
practice in Holland is a) voluntarily submitted to and b) part of a
social stratum that is privileged or elite (you for example even have
to pay to become a member of these fraternities/sororities), I
thought you might be interested to know that I heard that in France -
especially in the universities associated with the so-called 'BCBG'
(Bon Chic Bon Genre) and upper level 'establishment' demographic - it
is even more heinous than in Holland, and most certainly has a sexual

I have to confess that my memory of some of the French stories is
rather hazy (moreover they may be apocryphal), but nonetheless I very
definitely remember they were usually sexualised vis a vis women, and
in one case involved a woman having to 'hide' or totally conceal
herself among the innards of a horse carcass which her peers had
hauled to whatever social space the ragging was taking place in from
a butchers or anatomist's. This, combined with exhortations to all
kinds of sexualised and naked poses made me realise there was much
worse than Holland.

Regarding Abu Ghraib, although the comparison may appear totally
disproportional, what I feel is relevant (and is also reflected in
films like Salo), is the function of such degrading/sadistic rituals
in a) consolidating social, or ideological, cohesion and obedience
and b) ensuring the practice is either continued or not spoken about
(the latter would be the case for Iraq, the former for Holland). Very
similar to the strange repetition compulsion you witness in many
British people who have gone to strict 'public' schools (here,
private) and wish to continue the practice with their own children,
you'll always hear the Dutch ex-frat people say it was 'really good
for them', that it fostered an incomparable sense of 'community', and
that nothing else would have bound them equally to the institution of
the fraternity.

I think if you extrapolate or intensify this logic with regards to
other social scenarios, it's pretty clear what is going on.

All the best and thanks,


Dear Michiel,

Many thanks for your reply and for joing our mailing
list. On the net i read similarly about hazing in the
US, so is this practice in the Netherlands called
ragging or hazing, or is some other term employed? I
wonder if anyone can guide me towards the historical
origins of ragging. It's bizarre, and whoever thought
of it must certainly be abnormal.

Can I extract the part about raagging in Netherlands
in your mail, and put it in our Dossier, under the
section 'Ragging outside India'. We cannot live in a
vaccum and it is important to understand ragging and
know about anti-ragging movements. I believe Sri Lanka
has had a successful anti-ragging movement, and I'm
trying to know about it. Ragging is educational
institutions is sometimes ludicrously justified with
the argument that even military training academies do
it. Btw, the Pakistan Air Force has banned ragging
after two men died of it.

It would be great, Michiel, if you could elaborate
about ragging in the Netherlands. For instance, does
it have a sexual element in it? Are there special
anti-ragging laws?

Thanks and regaards,
Mute has moved!
We are now at:
Unit 9, The Whitechapel Centre,
Myrdle Street, London E1 1HL, UK
T: +44 (0)20 7377 6949 / F: +44 (0)20 7377 9520
W: www.metamute.com & W: www.openmute.org.......*

More information about the reader-list mailing list