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Ekila: Blood, bodies and egalitarian societies

LEWIS, J; (2008) Ekila: Blood, bodies and egalitarian societies. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute , 14 (2) 297 - 315. 10.1111/j.1467-9655.2008.00502.x. Green open access

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Mbendjele forest hunter-gatherers in Northern Congo refer to a confusing body of seemingly unconnected and diverse practices and beliefs as ‘ekila’. Ethnographically ekila has many meanings. I suggest a number of possible ways to understand what connects these different practices, but argue that it is only when considering learning in this egalitarian environment that ekila really begins to make sense. The ethnography demonstrates how formulaic and counter-intuitive explanations of specific taboos and related behaviour stimulate a learner-motivated pedagogic process which does not depend on defining any individual or institution as a focus for Mbendjele to learn important knowledge. Ekila anchors key areas of cosmological knowledge, gender and political ideology in the physical and biological experiences of human growth and maturation so that gendered practices and cultural values take on a natural, inevitable quality.

Title:Ekila: Blood, bodies and egalitarian societies
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version:http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9655.2008.00502.x
Additional information:The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9655.2008.00502.x
Keywords:hunter-gatherers; menstruation; taboo; cultural transmisson
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology

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