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Responsibility, Taboos and 'The Freedom to do Otherwise' in Ankarana, Northern Madagascar
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Author: Andrew Walsh.
Print ISSN: 1359-0987
Language: English
No. of Pages: 18
Dimensions: 210mm x 297mm x 2mm

Item Identification Code (UID#): 552
Shelving Location: Papers & Articles: Anthropology: Culture & Society
Estimated Value: £1.00
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Responsibility, Taboos and 'The Freedom to do Otherwise' in Ankarana, Northern Madagascar

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 8: pp. 451-468.
Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (2002).
Stapled Printout


Drawing inspiration from Barry Barnes's recent depiction of societies as 'systems of responsibilities', this article discusses the ways in which taboos in the Ankarana region of northern Madagascar indicate the mutual responsibility of people and the traditional authorities that they recognize. It is argued that people who respect taboos associated with a traditional polity in this region indicate how they are at once responsible to the sacred entities on which this polity centres and responsible for their preservation.

All societies are systems of responsibilities... (Barnes 2000: 8)

But... society does not exist in a neutral, uncharged vacuum. It is subject to external pressures; that which is not with it, part of it and subject to its laws, is potentially against it... [I]deas about separating, purifying, demarcating and punishing transgression have as their main function to impose system on an inherently untidy experience (Douglas 1966: 15)


  • The "Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute" was formerly called "Man".
  • The author is from Mount Allison.

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