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Title: Review of 'Male Cults and Secret Initiations in Melanesia' by M. R. Allen. London, Cambridge University Press (for Melbourne University Press), 1967. Pp. 140: with 3 maps.
Contributor(s): Ryan, John S (author)
Publication Date: 1968
Publisher: Routledge
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
DOI: 10.1080/0015587X.1968.9716590
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ISSN: 1469-8315
Source of Publication: Folklore, 79(2), p. 156-157
Abstract: This work is concerned to explain the variety of practices found in male initiations in Melanesia. The standpoint adopted is one of a synthesis between anthropological field observations and psycho-analytic theory and it makes the study an invaluable one for comparative anthropology. Sound field-work is responsible for attesting striking deviation in relationship between structural features and such psychological variants as sex, generation and class differentiation. In the main, the rites recorded provide a legitimate means of acting out sentiments which, if repressed, could result in antagonisms which would have undesirable social or psychological consequences. The style of the book is simple and the argument is developed in a fashion which makes it valuable for beginners, as well as useful as a manual to consult after Frazer, Lang or Loeb's work on blood sacrifice. (The extremely full notation and bibliography both add to the ease with which one may glance across to Jane Harrison, S. Freud, Elkin or A. E. Crawley.) Considerable emphasis is given to male envy of the female sexual role, penile blood-letting being taken as a possible male envy of menstruation. This is reasonable in view of the concern with the sex dichotomy in most Melanesian societies, where, too, according to native theory, a male is born twice: once into the woman-child status and then at puberty he symbolically dies and is reborn into the status of manhood.
Publication Type: Review
Keywords: Social and Cultural Anthropology
Race and Ethnic Relations
Fields of Research (FOR): 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology
190501 Crafts
160803 Race and Ethnic Relations
HERDC Category Description: D3 Review of Single Work
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