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Taboo as Cultural Practice among Malagasy Speakers
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Author: Michael Lambek.
Print ISSN: 1359-0987
Language: English
No. of Pages: 22
Dimensions: 152mm x 242mm x 1mm

Item Identification Code (UID#): 512
Shelving Location: Periodicals: Natural History
Estimated Value: £5.00
Purchase Date: 31 October 2002
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Taboo as Cultural Practice among Malagasy Speakers

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 27(2): pp. 245-266.
Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (1992).
Quarterbound Offprint


Starting from the insights of van Gennep in his work on Taboo in Madagascar and using ethnographic material collected among Malagasy speakers in Mayotte, this article attempts to approach the subject of Taboo from a practical perspective. It views the observance of taboo as a kind of performative act with moral consequences, and argues for the significance of taboo in the constitution of personhood and society and hence the relationships between them. It argues further that embodiment forms a primary means of legitimating various claims and disclaimers and that the observance of taboos forms a means of naturalizing cultural roles.

The most important developments as regards social theory concern not so much a turn towards language as an altered view of the intersection between saying (or signifying) and doing... (Giddens 1984: xxii)

In the final analysis, social life is made possible by keeping a delicate balance between falling inward and falling outward (Murphy 1987: 227)


  • The abstract is also included in French at the end of the article.
  • The author is from the University of Toronto.
  • The "Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute" was formerly called "Man".

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