Contradiction and Forgetting in Yewéssey Culture
Anthropologists are now inescapably aware of conflict, contradiction, and negotiation in even the most seemingly "traditional" socio-cultural orders. The literature on "memory" is particularly rich in illustrations of how contradictory evocations of the past undergird conflicting performances and assertions of interest in the present. This study of the traditionally nomadic Yewéssey people documents a genre of performance seldom discussed in the anthropological literature—the ritual performance of forgetting as a means of resolving intractable conflicts and cultural contradictions. This essay is written with an undergraduate or lay audience in mind and is intended to introduce anthropological comparative method, and some of its most important vocabulary, in accessible language. Questions for classroom discussion are provided at the end.
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