The Work of Culture: Symbolic Transformation in Psychoanalysis and Anthropology / Edition 1

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"The Work of Culture is the product of two decades of field research by Sri Lanka's most distinguished anthropological interpreter, and its combination of textual analysis, ethnographic sensitivity, and methodological catholicity makes it something of a blockbuster."--Arjun Appadurai, Journal of Asian Studies
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Editorial Reviews

This volume develops four lectures given by Obeyesekere on the subject of psychoanalytic anthropology. He establishes connections between culture and individuals' motivations, employing Sri Lankan materials in relation to Freud, anthropological work, and key philosophers. He argues for a particular kind of psychoanalytic anthropology, and for a revival of generalization in anthropology. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226615998
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1990
  • Series: Lewis Henry Morgan Lecture Series, #1982
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 382
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Table of Contents

Lecture One - Representation and Symbol Formation in a Psychoanalytic Anthropology
1. Unfreezing the Text, Releasing the Narrative
2. Dromena and Cathartic Rituals: Regression and Progression in Collective Representations
Killing and the Resurrection
"Distortion" in the Work of Culture
The Limits of Cultural Elaboration
3. Symbolic Remove and the Work of Culture
Lecture Two - Oedipus: The Paradigm and its Hindu Rebirth
1. Relativizing the Oedipus Complex: The Trobriand Case
2. Further Steps in Relativization: The Indian Oedipus Revisited
Freud and the Indian Oedipus: An Imaginary Journey
3. Universalizing the Oedipus Complex: Argument with Wittgenstein
4. The Indian Oedipus in Sri Lanka: Pulleyar and the Lord Buddha Revisited
The Potent Pulleyar of Pul Eliya: Ethnographic Doubt
Myth Associations: Validation in Interpretation
Back to Leach: Motivation and Structure
5. Change, History, and the Forgetting of Pulleyar
Debate and the Historicity of Charter
The Buddhist Form of Life and the Emergence of the Father Killer
Lecture Three - The Parricide in Buddhist History
1. Myth Models of the Parricide: Oedipus in Sri Lanka
Parricide and Fratricide: The Story of King Asoka
Vasubandhu's Oedipus
2. Symbolic Parricide: The Conscience of Dutthagamani Abhaya
3. The True Parricide: Kasyapa of Sigiriya, the "Lion Mountain"
What Happened Then? A Brief Afterword
Conscience and Culture: The Parricidal King in Buddhist History
The Demonic Oedipus: Ethics, Conscience, and Culture
Cosmos and Psyche
4. Psychic Structures of the Long Run: The Marriage of the Hero
Appendix: Rajasinha I
Lecture Four - Freud and Anthropology: The Place Where Three Roads Meet
1. The First Intersubjectivity: The Anthropologist and the Native
2. The Second Intersubjectivity: Participation and Observation
3. The Third Intersubjectivity and the Idea of a Metatheory
The Third Intersubjectivity Pursued: Metatheory and Thick Description
Validation in Psychoethnographic Interpretation
The Expansion of the Third Intersubjectivity: The Idea of a "Cultural Consciousness"
4. Language and Symbolic Form in Psychoanalysis and Anthropology
Author Index
Subject Index

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