One hundred years after the publication of Totem and Taboo, Freud’s book is summarized, and its reception and current status noted.
Tabooing Incest after the Orgy
Diederik F. Janssen
Late modernity’s binary intrigue of child sexuality/abuse is understood as a backlash phenomenon reactive to a general trans‐Atlantic crisis concerning the interlocking of kinship, religion, gender, and sexuality. Tellingly dissociated from 1980s gay liberation and recent encounters between queer theory and kinship studies, the child abuse theme articulates modernity’s guarded axiom of tabooed incest and its projected contemporary predicament “after the orgy”—after the proclaimed disarticulation of religion‐motivated, kin‐pivoted, reproductivist, and gender‐rigid socialities. “Child sexual abuse” illustrates a general situation of decompensated nostalgia: an increasingly imminent loss of the child’s vital otherness is counterproductively embattled by the late modern overproduction of its banal difference, its status as “minor.” Attempts to humanize, reform, or otherwise moderate incest’s current “survivalist” and commemorative regime of subjectivation, whether by means of ethical, empirical, historical, critical, legal, or therapeutic gestures, typically trigger the latter’s panicked empiricism. Accordingly, most “critical” interventions, from feminist sociology and anthropology to critical legal studies, have largely been collusive with the backlash: rather than appraising the radical precariousness of incest’s ethogram of avoidance in the face of late modernity’s dispossessing analytics and semiotics, they tend to feed its state of ontological vertigo and consequently hyperextended, manneristic forensics.
The Name Taboo, the Number Taboo
In 2005, black people in France decided to create a national organization: the CRAN. The country had lived for decades on the myth of human rights and equality, and as a result, minorities were invisible, and were expected to remain so. Therefore, the two most important goals of the CRAN have been: to give a name, to give a figure. The taboo of the name was broken when black people decided to stand up for what they are, to call themselves "black," however unusual this might sound in French public discourse; the taboo of the figure was also broken when the CRAN decided to launch the issue of ethnic statistics in France. Until then, blacks would not exist as such in this country, and racial discrimination would remain ignored for the most part. But since this campaign was launched, ethnic statistics have become an important issue. The debate is still going on.
Thoughts and Practices toward Non-human Animals among the G|ui Hunter-Gatherers
The term ‘animal borders’ refers to both the border between humans and animals and to that which demarcates the former according to stances toward the latter. The practices toward animals among the G|ui foragers inspire fundamental reflection on ‘animal borders’. Their mythical characters are personified animals. An invisible agency, translated as ‘to be affected’, permeates the G|ui everyday life. A complex code of food regulation is associated with this effect. Violating the taboo on specific meat may lead to madness that causes the imitation of animals. The G|ui pay particular attention to the messages from many ornithic species. The following ethnographic descriptions confirm the continuity of the G|ui corporeality with animal existence and further show the potentiality of metamorphosis. This scope requires a new understanding of ‘naturalism’.
When HIV Meets Government Morality
Kristin Soraya Batmanghelichi
In Iran, as in many countries worldwide, misinformation and ignorance of HIV/AIDS have encouraged a culture of secrecy and anonymity for those living with HIV. For many HIV-positive women, religious, political and economic pressures complicate their social status and access to health care. Moreover, they must contend with societal discrimination and stigmas associated with the condition. Adding nuance to contemporary studies on gender and sexuality in Iran, this report highlights the colourful narratives of a select group of HIV-positive mothers attending weekly wellness workshops in Tehran. Discussing issues of intimacy, modesty, motherhood and stigmatisation, this article explores one of Iran's expanding communities at risk of infection and the ways in which women with HIV negotiate the stigma of their condition in an Islamic Republic.
Germans and Jews Re-enacting Aspects of the Holocaust
This article discusses two academic events devoted to Holocaust studies in which participants became unconsciously involved in re-enacting the behaviour respectively of Holocaust perpetrators, and of victims turning aggressively on each other in a manner reminiscent of ghetto life. In one conference an out-group was created and silenced, while in another an individual became the object of projected guilt and was victimized. These projections were mediated by implied competition between film, sculpture and literature as the medium best suited to Holocaust memorialization. A description of each event is followed by analyses of the dynamics involved, with the support of psychoanalytic literature. Factors which led to the author’s twenty-year delay in publishing the article, which was drafted in 1995, are also examined psychologically.
Socio-legal Taboos on Same-Sex Parenting and Their Impact on Children's Well-Being
This article questions the way in which the 'child's best interests' test is applied by Israeli courts in cases of children of same-sex parents. It argues that the reluctance to recognize same-sex parenting indicates that the child's best interests is a politicized concept, which looks at heterosexual ideology rather than at the child's specific circumstances. This ideology views the opposite-sex parental model as the ideal model and thus is wary of recognizing same-sex parenting because it also entails recognition of same-sex relationships. I identify this prejudice against same-sex relationships and parenting as the product of what I term cultural and legal 'heterophilia'. To the extent that the objections of judges and social workers to same-sex parenting (pursuant to this ideology) are based on fears of actual harm caused to the children because of their parents' sexual orientation, they are the product of homophobia.
Hollywood Defines the American Boy, 1930–1934
This essay examines the portrayals of boys in American film, especially Jackie Cooper, during the “pre-code” period of Hollywood sound films, roughly 1930-1934. With the Great Depression cutting movie attendance, studios explored social taboos to entice audiences. As a result, childhood concerns, including issues of adoption, strained parental (especially father-son) relationships, or failing before one’s peers, were themes that threatened boys’ identities.
Theological Strip Tease and the Histrionic Hero
David C. Webb
Generations of scholars and critics have gnawed at two juicy interpretative bones: why is Faustus damned, and when exactly does his fate become irrevocable? Using a rather tacky analogy, which is just about defensible on the grounds that death and what lies after death are now both taboo, and bare bodies are everywhere, I shall argue that, just as a stripper delays gratification, so, teasingly, the play flaunts a number of possible reasons why Faustus might be damned, yet never allows the audience the satisfaction of certainty, and that it is helped in this by having a self-dramatising hero.
A Case Study on Romania's Ways of Remembering its Pronatalist Past
Taking the memory of pronatalism in contemporary Romania as a case study, this article is an attempt to view the national politics of memory of contemporary Europe with regard to its communist past from an anthropological perspective. From 1966 to 1989, the communist regime imposed extreme policies of controlled demography in Romania, as it was imputed, for 'the good of the socialist nation'. Profamily measures were developed in parallel to the banning of abortion on request and the making of contraception almost inaccessible. The social remembering of such a difficult past is still a taboo in contemporary Romanian society. This general lack of public remembering, which is still playing a role in the current situation of Romania's reproductive health, is influenced by the interrelations between the different forms of pronatalist memory. The analysis is based on oral history fieldwork conducted between 2003 and 2008, and is theoretically informed by the interdisciplinary field of Memory Studies.