Am very much enjoying this “Introductory Readings to Anthropology” book, and it makes me think I could read similar on ecology and a bunch of other things. If I write enough each day, that can be my reward!?
Today was all identity and rituals (of cleansing, boundary management, liminality – van Gennep etc).
As they say in the section introduction
“The concept of ‘identity’ is used in more than one way in anthropology, but it broadly refers to who yuo essentially think you are, how you define and place yourself in relation to your social world,and how you are regarded and placed by others. Identity in this sense is not exclusive: a persona can have more than one identity… and these identities can become more or less significant or emphasised in different situations.” (p132).
At the end of his piece on “The Social Character of Humanity” Thomas Hylland Eriksen notes
“Personal names may give a clue as to the concept of personhood prevailing in a society. Among the Curia of Central America,… children do not acquire a proper first name until they are about ten years of age. Geertz (1973) has described naming in Java as an extremely bewildering and complex affair to the outsider, where each person has seven different names pertinent in different situations. Compare this to the informality of North American society, where even complete strangers may address each otehr with a diminutive of their first, or Christian, name (Bill, Bob, Jim, Tommy, etc.).” (page 138)
Joy Hendry has some good stuff on van Gennep and the four kinds of move (status, place, situation, time) and types of rites (of Separation, Transition, Incorporation). There’s a long section on Welsh identity (they’ve been on the receiving end of the usual English condescension and control). Judith Okley has good stuff on Gypsy women and the anti-pollution work they have to do.
It closes out with Victor Turner stuff from “The Ritual Process” – As the introduction says “He gradually came to realise that “it was one thing to sit outside describing such things but quite another to reach an adequate understanding of what the movements and words mean to them.” Yup, phenomenological work is phenomenally tricky…
“Turner and his wife ‘began to perceive many aspects of Ndembu culture that had previously been invisible to us because of our theoretical blinkers.”
So, after tmrw I will be more than halfway through this book. Let’s hope I ain’t seen nuttin’ yet…