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Adeel Hamza and John Gannon

This introduces the first English translation of Marcel Mauss’s article, ‘Critique interne de la “Légende de l’Abraham”’, published in 1926 in the Revue des études juives. In suggesting ways in which the translation offers anglophone scholars new perspectives on Mauss’s thought, it explains how his sophisticated textual exegesis of the Legend of Abraham drew on nineteenth-century scholars such as Salomon Munk, but also how it above all involved a critique of deeply racist currents of European social thought. In particular, Mauss challenged a racist anthropology of African societies that became known as the ‘Hamitic hypothesis’ and linked it with the agitation over the ‘Jewish Question’ that continued to persist and was even growing in the world around him. A fundamental argument of his essay is that the social category of ‘race’ is not a category that denotes civility, but a system of categorization that stems from an analysis he deems ‘wanton’.

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Les archives de Marcel Mauss ont-elles une spécificité?

Le cas de la collaboration de Marcel Mauss et Henri Hubert

Jean-François Bert

Les archives de Marcel Mauss, conservées à l’IMEC (Institut Mémoires de l’Edition Contemporaine), reflètent l’éclatement et le dépassement constant d’une pensée originale et curieuse touchant à la sociologie, à l’ethnographie ou encore à l’histoire des religions, mais aussi à la situation économique et politique et aux innovations sociales. On sait moins, en revanche, que ce fonds d’archives est double. Les archives de Marcel Mauss sont aussi celle de Henri Hubert. Un « jumeau de travail » que Mauss rencontra en 1896 à l’École pratique des hautes études et avec qui, par la suite, il produira une oeuvre théorique importante dont « l’Essai sur la nature et la fonction du sacrifice » ou « l’Esquisse d’une théorie générale de la magie ». Outre sa richesse documentaire, ce fonds d’archives invite aussi à explorer les processus de la créativité scientifique et, plus particulièrement, la difficile pratique de l’écriture à deux. C’est en tout cas ce que nous proposons de montrer à partir des notes, des correspondances et des manuscrits encore inédits conservés.

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From India to Australia and Back Again

An Alternative Genealogy of The Elementary Forms of Religious Life

Sondra L. Hausner

This article argues that, although we think of Australian tribal ritual as Durkheim’s source material for his masterwork The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, we must also consider the extensive Indological scholarship on which he draws – and with which he debates – as critical inspirations for the text. His extensive engagement with his nephew, Marcel Mauss, whose earlier work, Sacrifice, with Henri Hubert, was premised on an analysis of Vedic ritual, would have been one source for his study of religion writ large; Elementary Forms also takes up in detail the work of Max Müller, among other Indologists, whose work was well known and widely engaged with in the French and broader European intellectual context of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This article argues that the Indological comparative lens was key to Durkheim’s own approach as he worked to articulate the relationship between religion and society; in contrast to the philologists, he argued for the primacy of practice over language in ritual action.

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Elisabeth Hsu

What, if not Durkheim’s ‘collective representations’ acquired during exalted states of effervescence, gives rise to society, culture and science? Marcel Mauss provides another answer by pointing to the different rhythms of social relationships and the human effort to synchronise them. The seasonal cycle of the Eskimo [Inuit], Mauss argues, is in accord with their game; hence people disperse in summer to pursue economic activities in small bands, while they congregate in dense house-complexes in winter and engage in ritual. It would appear that Mauss draws heavily on Boas’s contrast between the Kwakiutl winter celebrations and their ‘uninitiated’ livelihood in summer. These insights have traction for medical anthropologists who are interested in finding an anthropological explanation for the efficaciousness of ‘traditional’ medicines or ‘indigenous’ healing techniques.

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David Graeber

Many aspects of culture that we are used to interpreting in essentialist or even tacitly evolutionist terms might better be seen as acts of self-conscious rejection, or as formed through a schizmogenetic process of mutual definition against the values of neighbouring societies. What have been called 'heroic societies', for instance, seem to have formed in conscious rejection of the values of urban civilizations of the Bronze Age. A consideration of the origins and early history of the Malagasy suggests a conscious rejection of the world of the Islamic ecumene of the Indian Ocean, effecting a social order that could justifiably be described as self-consciously anti-heroic.

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Repaying and Cherishing the Gift of Life

Gift Exchange and Living-related Kidney Transplantation in the Philippines

Yosuke Shimazono

This paper considers living-related kidney transplantation, especially that between family members in the Philippines. Drawing on the anthropological theory of gift, it explores two aspects of the gift relationship—the relationship between the donor and the recipient and the relationship between the recipient and the object—and describes two categories of acts—'acknowledging the debt/repaying the gift of life' and 'taking care of a kidney/cherishing the gift'. This paper seeks to show that there is an internal tension in live kidney transplantation between two rival principles of gift operative in the world of Filipino family and kinship: one akin to the Maussian or 'archaic' gift and the other that places cherishing of the gift over repaying of the debt.

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Sociology, Primitivism and Museums

The Museology of George Henri Rivière, Follower of Marcel Mauss

Raymond de la Rocha Mille

The Musée de l'Homme closed its ethnological collections to the public during April 2003, after years of failing to receive appropriate finances, which brought about the run-down state of its premises, a lack of qualified staff and a distressing intellectual and moral atmosphere (Heritage-Augé 1991). With its library in the process of dispersion and its galleries emptied and silent, it is difficult to understand the fascination that the museum has had on vast sections of the population and the convergence of artistic, philosophical and political expectations of its creators in the 1930s (see Karsenti 1997). This article explores the influence of the Durkheimian school of sociology in the shaping of the so-called 'myth of primitivism' (Rubin 1984; Hiller 1991). It also addresses the meaning and significance given to objects and to collections in the avant-garde circles close to the Musée de l'Homme and notably amongst the immediate friends and collaborators of the French museologist, Georges Henri Rivi´re. It was an ideology that could be characterized as an object-based and philosophically inspired anthropology shaped by the unique convergence of multiple and often conflicting politico- and socio-cultural streams existing in the France of the Third Republic. This article also focuses on the epistemological con-sequences of a museology of 'presence' in the context of a growing heterogeneous society and of an aesthetic of collage 'that valued the fragmented, curious collections, unexpected juxtapositions, that works to provoke the manifestation of extraordinary realities drawn from the domains of the erotic, the exotic and the unconscious' (Clifford 1994:118).

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Society, Morality, Embodiment

Tracing Durkheim's Legacy

Sondra L. Hausner

This issue of Durkheimian Studies presents the collective efforts of the participants of a workshop held in late 2017, the centenary anniversary of Émile Durkheim’s death, at the University of Oxford. The articles that emerged from it, published together in this special issue for the first time along with some new material, demonstrate a continuation of classic Durkheimian themes, but with contemporary approaches. First, they consider the role of action in the production of society. Second, they rely on authors’ own ethnographies: the contributors here engage with Durkheimian questions from the data of their own fieldsites. Third, effervescence, one of Durkheim’s most innovative contributions to sociology, is considered in depth, and in context: how do societies sustain themselves over time? Finally, what intellectual histories did Durkheim himself draw upon – and how can we better understand his conceptual contributions in light of these influences?

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Keith Hart, Florence Weber, Nathan Schlanger, Gavin Flood and Mike Gane

Marcel Mauss, Manual of Ethnography, edited by N. J. Allen, translated by D. Lussier, Oxford and New York: Durkheim Press/Berghahn Press, 2007, pp. 212.

Marcel Mauss, Techniques, Technology and Civilisation, edited and introduced by Nathan Schlanger, New York and Oxford, Durkheim Press/ Berghahn Books, 2006, pp. 178.

Marcel Mauss, Essai sur le don. Forme et raison de l’échange dans les sociétés archaïques, introduction de Florence Weber, Paris: Quadrige/ Presses Universitaires de France, [1925] 2007.

Louise Child, Tantric Buddhism and Altered States of Consciousness: Durkheim, Emotional Energy and Visions of the Consort, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007, pp. vii, 197.

James Dingley, Nationalism, Social Theory and Durkheim, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, pp. 221.

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Jean-Christophe Marcel and Mike Gane

Raymond Boudon (ed.), Durkheim fut-il durkheimien? Jean-Christophe Marcel

Marcel Mauss, Techniques, technologie et civilisation, ed. N. Schlanger

Jean-François Bert (ed.), 'Les Techniques du corps' de Marcel Mauss: Dossier critique Mike Gane