Why marry her? : society and symbolic structures


Why marry her? : society and symbolic structures

Luc de Heusch ; translated by Janet Lloyd

(Cambridge studies in social anthropology, 33)

Cambridge University Press, 1981


Pourquoi l'épouser?


Pourquoi l'épouser?

大学図書館所蔵 件 / 28



"The main body of this volume is composed of four of twelve studies published by Gallimard under the title Pourquoi l'épouser? et autres essais (1971)"--Pref

Bibliography: p. 208-214

Includes index



This collection of essays on the themes of social organization, kinship and religion provides an excellent guide for English-speaking scholars to the understanding of French structuralist thought. In his introduction Luc de Heusch, a distinguished Belgian anthropologist, recalls his first contact with colonial Africa in the Belgian Congo in 1953-4. In Part I, conscious of the difference between French anthropology and the British tradition, he pursues a friendly dialogue with Mary Douglas, enters into a polemic with Rodney Needham concerning kinship structures, and discusses structural change with Edmund Leach. In Part II the author is concerned with the magico-religious field and proposes an original theory of symbolic systems elaborated round the trance. Upon publication, this was the first time that Luc de Heusch's important book Pourquoi l'epouser? (Editions Gallimard, 1971) had appeared in English. The theoretical essays it contains were revised by the author and a further essay was added, together with a new introduction and addenda in the form of theoretical discussions of two of the illustrative case studies.


  • Preface
  • Introduction: travel memories
  • Part I. Structure and Social Praxis: 1. A defence and illustration of the structures of kinship
  • 2. Social structure and praxis among the Lele of the Kasai
  • Postscript: horizontal and vertical exchanges
  • 3. The debt of the maternal uncle: contribution to the study of complex structures of kinship
  • Postscript: the Omaha system
  • 4. Structure and history: views on the Kachin
  • Part II. Religion: 5. Possession and shamanism
  • 6. The madness of the gods and the reason of men
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index.

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