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By Maurice Bloch

The circumcision ritual of the Merina of Madagascar is obvious by means of them essentially as a blessing, related to the move of the affection and challenge of the ancestors in their descendants. but the ritual leads to an act of ciolent wounding of the kid. Similarily, whereas the ritual includes a symbolic attack on ladies, it really is still welcomed via them as a mark of receiving the blessing of the ancestors. during this publication, Maurice Bloch offers an in depth description and research of the Merina circumcision ritual this present day, bargains an account of its historical past, and discusses the importance of his research for anthropological theories of formality as a rule. Pursuing the subject matter of the mix of spiritual pleasure and illumination with violence, Professor Bloch explains how, at quite a few instances, the circumcision rite could be a familial ritual in addition to glorification of a militarist and expansionist country, or linked to anti-colonial nationalism. Describing adjustments that experience happened within the type of the ritual over centuries, Professor Bloch argues that during order to appreciate the homes of formality in most cases, it's important to view it over an extended time scale than anthropologists have tended to do formerly. Adopting such an ancient point of view permits him to spot the steadiness of the Merina ritual's symbolic content material, regardless of adjustments in its service provider, and dramatically altering politico-economic contexts. in addition to offering an unique old method of the anthropological examine of ritua;, Professor Bloch discusses more than a few normal theoretical matters, together with the character of ideology, and the connection among pictures created in ritual and different different types of wisdom. The ebook will charm generally to students and scholars of anthropology, heritage, African stories, and comparative faith.

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Extra info for From Blessing to Violence: History and Ideology in the Circumcision Ritual of the Merina of Madagascar

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The situation so created remained basically unchanged until legal independence from France in 1960 and, indeed, continued during the period up to 1972. From the time of independence to the overthrow of Tsiranana Madagascar was not legally a colony any more, but the old system was maintained as President Tsiranana had been placed by the French at the head of the new independent state. Tsiranana, although originally a Malagasy Nationalist, had been used by the French during the period following the 1947 revolt as a tool of their divisive policy of opposing the coastal peoples to the Merina, who were, as we have seen, represented by the colonial powers as having been the only anti-French element in the population.

The traditional date for the royal bath had also been the occasion of the mena lamba rebellions and so the choice of that day for the beginning of fighting linked the revolt of 1947 both to the independent past and to the first attempt at liberation by the Malagasy. If the 1947 revolt was not a particularly religious affair at first, the association of Protestantism with nationalism was strengthened, as it had been after the mena lamba, by the actions of the colonial government. From the beginning of nationalist activity, but especially from 1940 onwards, the French tried to exacerbate tensions between the Merina and the coastal peoples of Madagascar by employing a 'divide and rule' policy.

It was also partly due to an attempt to gain the support of the colonial people for their side. As a result the French promised many of their colonies, including Madagascar and Indochina, a great degree of independence. But as soon as the war had been won and a Gaullist government was in control in Paris, they went back on their promises. In Indochina this led to the beginning of the Vietnam War, and on Madagascar it had a similar result, which, however, was less clear cut in origin and less successful in outcome.

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