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The Secret of the Totem
Author: Robert Alun Jones

ISBN: 9780231134385
Format: Hardcover
Number Of Pages: 360
Published: 1 August 2005
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.2 x 2.5
Description:


Though it is now discredited, totemism once captured the imagination of Sigmund Freud, Amile Durkheim, James Frazer, and other prominent Victorian thinkers. In this lively intellectual history, Robert Alun Jones considers the construction of a theory and the divergent ways religious scholars, anthropologists, psychoanalysts, and cultural theorists drew on totemism to explore and define primitive and modern societies' religious, cultural, and sexual norms. Combining innovative readings of individual scholars' work and a rich portrait of Victorian intellectual life, Jones brilliantly traces the rise and fall of a powerful idea.

First used to describe the belief systems of Native American tribes, totemism ultimately encompassed a range of characteristics. Its features included belief in a guardian spirit that assumed the form of an a particular animal; a prohibition against marrying outside the clan combined with a powerful incest taboo; a sacrament in which members of the totemic clan slaughtered a representative of the totemic species; and the tracing of descent through the female rather than the male. These attributes struck a chord with the late Vic...

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