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Wilson, James M. (1970) A structural analysis of myths from the north-east frontier of India. MPhil thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The underlying theme of this analysis is the contradiction, which it is the function of the myths to emphasise, between two meanings of the concept of humanity. Humanity may mean the capacity of man to identify himself with the other, which is the condition of his passage from Nature to Culture. It may also refer to symbolic thinking, to all man's works and conscious elaborations. This involves the distinction of the self from the other, and may tend to identification with the self alone. The myths deal mainly with marriage-exchange. They are analysed in relation to the systems of marriage preferences of the tribes concerned. The sociological code of marriage is correlated with a zoological code of man's relations with animals, Relations in marriage governed by nature and those governed by culture are homologous, in the myths, to relations with different species of animals. Ambivalent animals represent the ambivalence of allies, for allies are friends who were enemies, Two schemes of mediation are analysed. In one, the mediation by the dog between man and animals is homologous to the mediation by allies between the kin-group and outsiders. In the other, the mediation by pigs and fowls is homologous to the mediation by children between the the kin-group and its allies. The integration by opposition in exchange is correlated, by the myths, with the integration of nature by periodicity, The myths of natural periodicity enable a tentative correlation to be made between a difference in the mythical systems of two neighbouring tribes and the difference in their marriage systems. Generalised exchange among the Hrusso is accompanied, in their myths, by an emphasis on unions between a lose marital and sexual partners. Among the Bugun, there is restricted exchange, and, in their myths, emphasis on unions between distant partners. The underlying theme is also elaborated through the analysis of the myths of periodicity in nature. The myths emphasise the danger of taking either aspect of humanity to excess.

Item Type: Theses (MPhil)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:13

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