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Lecture 3 The Power of Classification Taboo and Law

Lecture 3 The Power of Classification Taboo and Law -...

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Lecture 3: The Power of Classification: Taboo and Law What is a “ taboo ”? o Something that is prohibited or forbidden o In some cases even a discussion of that thing is forbidden o Who decides what is taboo in a particular social context? Mary Douglas’ example of Old Testament food taboos from “the Abominations of Leviticus” o Douglas highlights the “unusual” particularities of Judeo-Christian practice as worthy subjects of anthropological study o “Cleanliness as a classificatory system” o 42: “Defilement is never an isolated event. It cannot occur except in view of a systematic ordering of ideas… the only way in which pollution ideas make sense is in reference to a total structure of thought whose keystone, boundaries, margins, and internal lines are held in relation by rituals of separation.” o 54: “Hybrids and other confusions are abominated” o 55: “To be holy is to be whole, to be one; holiness is unity, integrity,
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