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Transethnic social space of clans and lineages: A discussion of Leach's concept of common ritual language

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Chapter Summary

This chapter acts as a complement to that of Gros in that it, too, is focused on the same notion of common ritual language. It reflects on the mayu-dama kinship system. Refuting the dichotomous approach of sacred/profane developed by Durkheim, Leach defines the notion of ‘ritual language’ as ‘meaningful things’, whether or not they imply any supernatural or metaphysical conceptualisation. Edmund Leach demonstrated the flexibility of the mayu-dama system. He showed that the local understanding of clans and lineages is subject to manipulations like any other social sphere. The chapter focuses on the analysis on the confusion between the use of terms of ethnic category versus references to clans/lineages and its implications.

Keywords: clans; Edmund Leach; lineages; mayu-dama kinship; ritual language



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