Words and Meaning

Carol Laderman

in Taming the Wind of Desire

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 1991 | ISBN: 9780520069169
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520913707 | DOI:
Words and Meaning

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The “meaning centered” approach to ritual has come under criticism by such figures as Foucault (1981), who called for a “refusal of analyses couched in terms of the symbolic field or the domain of signifying structures, and a recourse to analyses in terms of the genealogy of relations of force, strategic developments, and tactics,” and Bloch (1974), who believes that the efficacy of symbols in ritual must be located in their nonsemantic, rather than their semantic, content. But one must keep in mind that rituals span the gamut from those in which action dominates (such as mass participation in communal rites) to those performed with words alone, as is often the case in healing incantations. In the Main Peteri, words, reinforced by music, gesture, and props, have the power to heal. Their content, while not the sole determiner of “meaning,” is of prime importance.

Keywords: language; healing; meaning; ritual; words

Chapter.  3831 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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