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The deep structure of symbolism in religious and ritual activities has hitherto mostly been studied from perspectives deriving from classical and contemporary Western thought, which values symmetry, non-contradiction, equality of terms and the rationality of linear discourse and classification systems have therefore come to be defined in binary terms (right/left, male/female, black/white). In this book, Serge Tcherkezoff presents a new perspective on the study of ritual classification. On the basis of a detailed ethnography of the rituals of the Nyamwezi of Tanzania, Tcherkezoff argues for an analysis which recognised contradictions and asymmetry within ritual systems. Following Dumont, he shows that societies are characterised by a hierarchal structure of values, in which each individual element has a meaning only through its position within the whole, thereby replacing the rigid classical structuralist dichotomy with a rich multidimensional approach.
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- Date Published: March 2009
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521105354
- length: 168 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 10 mm
- weight: 0.26kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Right/Left oppositions and the 'pre-eminence of the right hand'
Part I. Nyamwezi Classifications:
2. Nyamwezi classifications: right or left?
3. Right and left: the distinction between levels
4. Hierarchy and power: kingship captures the kings
Part II. Comparison and conclusion:
5. The same questions asked of other examples
6. Towards a comparative study of dualist symbolism
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