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Pierre Bourdieu

Cambridge Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology




T r a n s la t e d b y


ffiS C a m b r i d g e

P u b lis h e d b y th e P r e s s S y n d ic a t e o f th e U n iv e r s it y o f C a m b r id g e T h e P it t B u ild in g , T r u m p in g t o n S tr e e t, C a m b r id g e C B 2 1R P 4 0 W e s t 2 0 th S tr e e t, N e w Y o r k , N Y 1 0 0 1 1 - 4 2 1 1 , U S A 1 0 S ta m fo r d R o a d , O a k le ig h , M e lb o u r n e 3 1 6 6 , A u str a lia In t h e E n g lis h la n g u a g e e d it io n C a m b r id g e U n iv e r s it y P r e s s 1 9 7 7 T h e o r ig in a l e d it io n , e n t it le d E sq u isse d 'u n e th e o rie d e la p r a ti q u e , p r e c e d e d e tr o is e tu d e s d e th n o lo g ie k a b y le , w a s p u b lis h e d b y L ib r a ir ie D r o z S .A . in S w itz e r la n d L ib r a ir ie D r o z , 1 9 7 2 F ir s t p u b lis h e d in E n g lis h tr a n sla tio n 1 9 7 7 R e p r in te d 1 9 8 5 1 9 8 6 1 9 8 7 1 9 8 8 1 9 8 9 1 9 9 0 1991 1 9 9 2 1 9 9 3 1995 P r in t e d in G r e a t B r ita in at th e U n iv e r s it y P r e s s , C a m b r id g e L ib r a r y o f C o n g re ss C a ta lo g u in g in P u b lic a tio n D a t a B o u r d ie u , P ie r r e . O u tlin e o f a th e o r y o f p r a c tic e . (C a m b r id g e s t u d ie s in so c ia l a n th ro p o lo g y '; 16) T r a n s la tio n w ith r e v is io n s o f E s q u is s e d u n e th e o r ie d e la p r a tiq u e . I n c lu d e s b ib lio g r a p h ic a l r e fe r e n c e s a n d in d e x . 1. K a b y le s - A d d r e s s e s , e s sa y s, le c tu r e s. 2. E t h n o lo g y . I. T i t le . D T 2 9 8 .K 2 B 6 9 1 3 3 0 1 .2 7 6 -1 1 0 7 3

I S B N 0 521 2 9 1 6 4 X


T ran slato r's forew ord


page vii

Section i: A n alyses
From the mechanics o f the model to the dialectic o f strategies From the "rules o f honour to the sense o f honour Practice and discourse about practice The fallacies of the rule

3 10 16 22

Section 1 1 : Case stu d y: parallel-cousin m arriage

The state o f the question The functions o f kinship: official kin and practical kin Officializing strategies Collective beliefs and white lies The ordinary and the extra-ordinary M atrimonial strategies and social reproduction 2

32 33 38

52 58 72 ' . 72 78 &7

A false dilem m a: mechanism and finalism Structures, habitus and practices The dialectic o f objectification and embodiment

96 97 ^ 109 114 124 130 132 140 143


The calendar and the synoptic illusion Economy o f logic The body as geometer: cosmogonic practice Union and separation Thresholds and rites o f passage Reunion o f contraries and denial M aking use of indeterminacy The habitus and homologies



159 159

D oxa, orthodoxy, heterodoxy Symbolic capital Modes of domination

171 183
198 240

N otes In d ex

" T h e principal defect of all m aterialism up to now - including that of Feuerbach - is that the external object, reality, the sensible w orld, is grasped in the form of an object or an intuition; but not as concrete human activity, as practice, in a subjective way. T h is is why the active aspect was developed by idealism , in opposition to materialism - but only in an abstract w ay, since idealism naturally does not know real concrete activity as su ch . K . M arx, Theses on Feuerbach

T ranslators foreword

Outline o f a Theory o f Practice was first published in Fren ch in 1972 (Esquisse d une theorie de la pratique ). H ow ever, this E nglish text incorporates most of the changes which Pierre Bourdieu has made since then. T h e argum ent is carried further, particularly as regards the concepts of practical logic and sym bolic capital, the order of exposition is recast, and, partly for reasons of space, the ethnographic chapters with w hich the Fren ch edition opens have
been curtailed. T h is text is the cornerstone of an oeuvre w hich encom passes num erous m ajor works in both anthropology and sociology - which crosses and chal lenges the boundary dividin g their objects, tasks, and theories, and forces attention to the social conditions in which such sciences are possible. T h e fieldwork in K ab y lia w hich provided the ethnographic basis for this text and the starting-point for its reflections w as carried out am id the tragic circum stances of the Algerian w ar, w hich brought to a head the contradictions inherent in the ethnologists position. T h is was one factor in Bourdieus subsequent move into the field of sociology, where the separation w hich is the hidden condition o f all academ ic activity - most insidiously so in the behavioural sciences - could itself be grasped scientifically in the course of inquiry into the social functions of scholarship and the m echanism s of cultural and social reproduction. T h e Outliney a " reflection on scientific practice w hich will disconcert both those who reflect on the social sciences without practising them and those who practise them w ithout reflecting on th em , seeks to define the prerequisites for a truly scientific discourse about human behaviour, that is, an adequate theory o f practice which must include a theory of scientific practice. T h e stages through w hich Bourdieus work has passed, the problem s he has set him self, are of course partly determ ined by the accidents of a b iography; but also by the configurations of the intellectual field in France over a certain period. T h e com m onplaces a translator m ight feel required to adduce in order to extenuate the visible loss entailed in extracting a text from its context touch only the surface of processes which the explicit thrust of Bourdieus argum ent, here and elsew here, enables us to grasp m ore pro foundly as involving more than questions of " translatability Bourdieu would
[ v i i ]

Vl l l

Translator's fo rew o rd

be the last to regret the shedding of all that the text was immediately and tacitly granted, inasmuch as it bore the social marks which signal a product conforming to the local standards: the signs of recognition eliciting the recognition of already converted readers, the dignifyingreferences, theoretical allusions, stylistic effects, have indeed every likelihood of remaining dead letters once outside the magic circle of belief. But much more besides the value set on the text is at stake when it circulates beyond its field of production. The most autonomous work contains implicit reference to an intellectual universe whose cardinal points are scientific (and political) positions symbolized, in a given state of the field, by the names of authors or schools of thought or by " is m s which may cover totally different realities in different national traditions. These are the structures of the field of production, its divisions into antagonistic groups and rival schools, which, internalized, function as unexamined principles of perception and appreciation. When these bearings are removed the text becomes open to misreading. T h u s nothing guarantees that, for some readers, this work, written against the currents at present dominant in France, "structuralism or "structuralM arxism , will not be merged with the very tendencies it combats. Less pessimistically, there is still reason to fear that the frequent references made to the Anglo-American philosophical tradition - a heaven-sent weapon against the theoreticism which so strongly characterizes French social science, from Durkheim to Levi-Strauss - may, when returned to their original universe, take on a significance very different from the one they were given in a context in which that tradition is disdained or unknown, and be seen as a sign of allegiance to positivism (if not as an ingratiating gesture towards the intellec tual establishment). The fact remains that a text which seeks to break out of a scheme of thought as deeply embedded as the opposition between subjectivism and objectivism is fated to be perceived through the categories which it seeks to transcend, and to appear contradictory or eclectic (except when forcibly reduced to one or the other alternative). T he provisional eclecticism which can juxtapose Wittgenstein with the young M arx finds its justification in the fact that all the resources of a tradition which from the beginning has made practice the negative obverse of theory are needed in order to think the unthinkable. R. N.

The objective limits of objectivism




T h e practical privilege in which all scientific activity arises never more subtly governs that activity (insofar as science presupposes not only an epistemological break but also a social separation) than when, unrecognised as privilege, it leads to an implicit theory of practice which is the corollary of neglect of the social conditions in which science is possible. T h e anthropologists particular relation to the object o f his study contains the makings of a theoretical distortion inasmuch as his situation as an observer, excluded from the real play of social activities by the fact that he has no place (except by choice or by way of a game) in the system observed and has no need to make a place for him self there, inclines him to a hermeneutic representation of practices, leading him to reduce all social relations to communicative relations and, more precisely, to decoding operations. Charles Bally remarked that linguistic research takes different directions according to whether it deals with the researchers mother tongue or with a foreign language, emphasizing in particular the tendency to intellectualism implied in observing language from the standpoint of the listening subject rather than that of the speaking subject, that is, as a "m ean s of action and expression : "th e listener is on the side of the language, it is with the language that he interprets sp eech .1 And exaltation of the virtues of the distance secured by externality sim ply transmutes into an epistemological choice the anthropologists objective situation, that of the "im partial spectator , as Husserl puts it, condemned to see all practice as a spectacle.
It is instructive to glance at the case of art history, which, never having really broken with the tradition of the amateur, gives free rein to celebratory contemplation and finds in the sacred character of its object every pretext for a hagiographic hermeneutics superbly indifferent to the question of the social conditions in which works are produced and circulate. Panofsky, for example, w T i t i n g on Abbot Suger and the invention of Gothic architecture, only exceptionally and almost accidentally aban dons the point of view o f the interpreter who, more concerned with the opus operatum than the modus operandi, represses the question of artistic production under the concept of the "objective intention o f the work and reduces immediate com pre hension to a decoding that is unaware that it ii a d e c o d i n g . T o treat a work of plastic art as a discourse intended to be interpreted, decoded, by reference to a transcendent code analogous to the Saussurian " langue is to forget that artistic production is always also - to different degrees d e p e n d i n g on the art a n d on t h e historically variable styles
[ i]

T he objective lim its of objectivism

of practising it - the product of an " art ," pure practice without theory , as Durkheim says,2 or to put it another way, a mimesis, a sort of sym bolic gym nastics, like the rite or the d ance; and it is also to forget that the work of art always contains som ething ineffable, not by excess, as hagiography would have it, but by default, som ething which com m unicates, so to speak, from body to body, i.e. on the hither side of words or concepts, and w hich pleases (or displeases) without concepts.

S o lon g as h e rem ains unaware of the lim its inherent in his point of view on the object, the anthropologist is con d em ned to adopt unw ittingly for his ow n u se the representation of action w hich is forced on agents or groups w hen th ey lack practical m astery of a h ighly valued com p eten ce and have to provide th em selves w ith an exp licit and at least sem i-form alized su bstitute for it in the form of a repertoire of rules, or of what sociologists con sid er, at best, as a " r o le , i.e. a predeterm ined set of discourses and actions appropriate to a particular M stage-part .3 It is significant t h a t" culture is som etim es described as a m a p ; it is the analogy w h ich occurs to an outsider w ho has to find his w ay around in a foreign landscape and w ho com p en sates for his lack of practical m astery, the prerogative o f the native, by the use o f a m odel of all p ossible routes. T h e gulf b etw een this potential, abstract space, devoid of landm arks or any privileged centre - like gen ealogies, in w h ich the ego is as unreal as th e starting-point in a Cartesian sp ace - and the practical space of journeys actually m ade, or rather of journeys actually b ein g m ade, can be seen from the difficulty w e have in recogn izin g fam iliar routes on a m ap or tow n-plan u ntil w e are able to bring together the axes of th e field of potentialities and the "system o f axes linked unalterably to our b odies, and carried about w ith u s w herever w e g o , as Poincare puts it, w hich structures practical space into right and left, up and d ow n , in front and b eh in d . H ence it is not sufficient for anth rop ology to break w ith native experience and the native representation of that ex p er ie n c e: it has to m ake a second break and question the p resup position s inherent in the p osition of an outside observer, w ho, in his preoccupation w ith interpreting practices, is inclined to introduce in to th e object th e p rinciples o f h is relation to the object, as is attested by the special im portance he assigns to com m un icative functions (w hether in language, m yth, or m arriage). K n o w led g e does not m erely d ep en d, as an elem entary relativism teaches, on th e particular standpoint an observer "situated in space and tim e takes u p on the object. T h e "know ing su b jec t, as the idealist tradition rightly calls h im , inflicts on practice a m uch m ore fundam ental and p ernicious alteration w h ich , b ein g a constituent con d ition of th e cognitive operation, is b oun d to pass u n n oticed : in taking up a point of view on the action, w ithdraw ing from it in order to observe it from above and from a d istance, he con stitu tes practical activity as an object o f observation an d analysis, a representation.

T he objective lim its o f objectivism From the mechanics o f the model to the dialectic o f strategies

T h e social w orld may be the object o f three m odes of theoretical k now ledge, each o f w hich im plies a set of (usually tacit) anthropological theses. A lthough these m odes of know ledge are strictly speaking in no way exclu sive, and may be described as m om ents in a dialectical advance tow ards adequate k now ledge, they have on ly one th in g in com m on , the fact that they are op posed to practical k now ledge. T h e know ledge w e shall call phenomenological (or, to speak in term s of currently active sch ools, " eth nom ethod ological ) sets out to m ake exp licit the truth of prim ary exp erience of th e social w orld , i.e . all that is inscribed in th e relationship of fa m ilia rity w ith the familiar environ m en t, the u n q u estion in g apprehension o f th e social w orld w hich , by defini tion, d oes not reflect on itself and exclu d es the question of the co n d itio n s of its ow n possibility. T h e k now ledge w e shall term objectivist (of w hich structuralist herm eneutics is a particular case) con stru cts the objective rela tion s (e .g . econ om ic or lin gu istic) w h ich structure practice and representa tion s of practice, i.e ., in particular, prim ary k now ledge, practical and tacit, o f th e fam iliar w orld. T h is con stru ction presup poses a break w ith prim ary k now ledge, w h ose tacitly assum ed p resup position s give the social w orld its self-ev id en t, natural character .4 It is only on condition that it poses the q u estion w hich th e doxic exp erience of th e social w orld excludes by definition - th e q u estion of the (particular) con d ition s m aking that experience p ossible - that ob jectivist k now ledge can establish b oth th e structures of the social w orld and the objective truth of prim ary experience as experience denied explicit k now ledge of those structures. F in ally, it is only by m eans of a secon d break, w h ich is needed in order to grasp the lim its of ob jectivist k now ledge - an inevitable m om ent in scientific k now ledge - and to brin g to light the theory of theory and the theory of practice inscribed (in its practical state) in th is m ode of know ledge, that w e can integrate th e gains from it into an adequate scien ce of practices. T h e critical break w ith ob jectivist abstraction en su in g from inquiry in to the con d ition s o f p ossib ility, and thereby, into th e lim its o f th e objective and ob jectifying standpoint w hich grasps practices from ou tside, as a fa it accomp li, instead o f constructing th eir generative principle by situating itself w ithin the very m ovem ent of their accom p lish m en t, has no other aim than to make p ossib le a scien ce of th e dialectical relations b etw een th e objective structures to w h ich th e ob jectivist m od e of k now ledge gives access and the structured d ispositions w ith in w h ich those structures are actualized and w hich tend to reproduce them . T h is q u estion in g of ob jectivism is liable to be understood at first as a rehabilitation of subjectivism and to be m erged w ith the critique that naive

T he objective lim its o f objectivism

hum anism levels at scientific objectification in the nam e o f " lived exp erience and the rights o f " su b je ctiv ity . In reality, the theory of practice and o f the practical m ode of know ledge inherent in all practice w hich is the precondition for a rigorous scien ce o f p ractices carries out a new reversal o f the p roblem atic w hich objectivism has to con stru ct in order to con stitu te the social w orld as a system of objective relations in depend en t o f individual con sciousnesses and w ills. Just as ob jectivist k n ow led ge p oses the question of the con d ition s of the p ossib ility of prim ary exp erience, thereby revealing that th is experience (or the phenom enological analysis of it) is fundam entally defined as not posing this q uestion, so the theory of practice puts objectivist know ledge back on its feet by p osin g the q u estion of the (theoretical and also social) conditions w hich m ake su ch know ledge p o ssib le. Because it produces its scien ce o f the social w orld against the im p licit presup position s o f practical know ledge of the social w orld, objectivist k now ledge is diverted from construction o f the theory o f practical know ledge of the social w orld, of w hich it at least produces the lack. O bjective analysis of practical apprehension of the fam iliar w orld is not a n ew form of sacrificial offering to the m ysteries o f su bjectivity, but a m eans o f exploring the lim its of all ob jective exploration. It teaches us that we shall escape from the ritual eith er/or ch oice b etw een objectivism and su bjectivism in w hich the social scien ces have so far allow ed them selves to be trapped only if w e are prepared to inquire into the m ode o f production and fu n ction in g of the practical m astery w h ich m akes possib le both an objectively intelligible practice and also an ob jectively enchanted experience o f that practice; m ore precisely, that w e shall do so o n ly if we subordinate all operations of scientific practice to a theory of practice and of practical know ledge (w hich has n oth ing to do w ith p henom en ological reconstitution of lived exp erience), and inseparably from this, to a theory o f the theoretical and social con d ition s of the possibility o f objective apprehension - and thereby to a theory o f the lim its o f this m ode of know ledge. A sin gle exam ple w ill suffice to sh ow how this sort o f third-order know ledge d oes not cancel out the gains from objectivist know ledge but conserves and transcends them by integrating the truth of practical experience and o f the practical m ode of k now ledge w hich this learned know ledge had to be constructed against, that is to say, inseparably, the truth o f all learned know ledge. It will b e rem em bered that L evi-S trau ss, criticizing M au sss " p h en om en ological approach to gift exchange, makes a com p lete break w ith native experience and the native theory of that experience, p ositing that it is the exchange as a con stru cted object w hich " constitu tes the primary p henom en on, and not the in dividu al operations into w hich social life breaks it d o w n ,5 or, in other w ords, that the "m echanical la w s o f the cycle of

From the mechanics o f the model to the dialectic o f strategies

reciprocity are the u nconscious principle of the obligation to g iv e, the ob liga tion to give in return, and the obligation to receive .6 " P h en o m en o lo g ica l analysis and objectivist analysis b rin g to light tw o antagonistic principles of gift exchange: the gift as exp erienced , or, at least, m eant to be experienced, and the gift as seen from ou tside. T o stop short at the " o b jectiv e truth of the gift, i.e . the m od el, is to set aside the q u estion of the relationship b etw een so-called objective truth, i.e . that of the observer, and the truth that can scarcely be called subjective, sin ce it represents the official definition o f the subjective experience of the exchan ge; it is to ignore the fact that the agents practise as irreversible a seq u en ce of actions that the observer con stitu tes as reversible. T h e ob servers totalizin g apprehension su b stitu tes an objective structure fundam entally defined b y its reversibility for an equally objectively irreversible su ccession of gifts w h ich are not m echanically linked to the gifts they respond to or in sisten tly call for: any really objective analysis of the exchange of g ifts, w ords, ch allen ges, or even w om en m ust allow for the fact that each of these inaugural acts m ay m isfire, and that it receives its m eaning, in any case, from the response it triggers off, even if the response is a failure to reply that retrospectively rem oves its intended m eaning. T o say that the m eaning the gift has for the d onor is recognized and consecrated only w hen the counter-gift has b een m ade d o es not am ount to restoring the structure of the cycle of reciprocity in different w ords. It m eans that even if reversibility is the objective truth of the discrete acts w hich ordinary experience know s in discrete form and calls gift exchan ges, it is not the w hole truth o f a practice w hich could not exist if it w ere co n sciou sly perceived in accordance w ith the m odel. T h e tem poral structure o f gift exchan ge, w hich objectivism ignores, is what makes possible the coexisten ce of tw o o p p osin g truths, w hich defines the full truth of the gift. In every society it m ay be observed that, if it is not to con stitute an insult, the counter-gift m ust be deferred and different, because the im m ediate return o f an exactly identical object clearly am ounts to a refusal (i.e . the return of the sam e ob ject). T h u s gift exchan ge is op posed on the one hand to swapping, w hich, like the theoretical m odel of the cycle of reciprocity, telescop es gift and cou n ter-gift into the sam e instant, and on the other hand, to lending, in w hich the return of the loan is ex p licitly guaranteed by a juridical act and is thus already accomplished at th e very m om ent of the draw ing up of a contract capable of ensuring that the acts it prescribes are predictable and calculable. T h e difference and delay w hich the m onothetic m odel obliterates m ust be brought into the m odel n ot, as L evi-Strauss su ggests, out of a " phenom enological desire to restore the subjective experience o f the practice of the exchange, but because th e operation o f gift exchange p resupposes (individual and collecti%'e) m isrecognition ( meconnaissance) of the reality of

T he objective lim its o f objectivism

the objective " m ec h a n ism of th e exchan ge, a reality w hich an im m ediate response brutally exp oses: the in terval b etw een gift and cou n ter-gift is w hat allow s a pattern of exchange that is alw ays liab le to strike the observer and also the participants as reversible, i.e . both forced and interested, to be exp erienced as irreversible. " O verm u ch eagerness to d ischarge o n es obliga tions is a form o f in gratitu d e, said La R och efoucauld. T o betray on e's h aste to be free o f an ob ligation on e has incurred, and thu s to reveal too overtly o n e s desire to pay off services rendered or gifts received, so as to b e quits, is to d en ou n ce the initial gift retrosp ectively as m otivated b y th e in tention of ob ligin g one. It is all a question of style, w hich m eans in this case tim in g and ch oice of occasion , for the sam e a c t - g i v i n g , g iv in g in return, offering o n e s services, p aying a visit, etc. - can have com p letely different m eanings at different tim es, com in g as it m ay at the right or the w rong m o m en t, w hile alm ost all im portant exchan ges - g ifts to the m other of a new -born ch ild , or on th e occasion o f a w ed d in g, etc. - have their ow n particular m o m en ts; the reason is that the lapse o f tim e separating th e gift from the cou n ter-gift is w hat authorizes the d eliberate oversigh t, the collectively m aintained and approved self-d ecep tion w ithou t w h ich sym b olic exch an ge, a fake circulation o f fake coin, cou ld not operate. If th e system is to work, the agents m ust not be entirely unaware of th e truth of th eir exch an ges, w hich is m ade exp licit in the anth rop ologists m od el, w hile at the sam e tim e th ey m ust refuse to know and above all to recognize it .7 In sh ort, everyth ing takes place as if a g en ts practice, and in particular their m anip ulation o f time, w ere organized exclu sively w ith a view to con cealin g from th em selves and from others th e truth o f their practice, w hich the anth rop ologist and his m odels b rin g to light sim p ly by su b stitu tin g the tim eless m odel for a schem e w h ich w orks itself ou t on ly in and through tim e. T o abolish the interval is also to abolish strategy. T h e period in terp osed , w hich m ust be neither too short (as is clearly seen in gift exchan ge) nor too lon g (especially in the exchange o f reven ge-m urders), is q u ite the op posite of the inert gap o f tim e, the tim e-lag w hich the objectivist m od el m akes of it. U n til he has given in return, the receiver is " obliged, exp ected to sh ow his gratitude tow ards his benefactor, or, at least, to have regard for h im , to refrain from u sing against h im all the w eap on s he otherw ise m ig h t, to pull h is p un ch es, lest he be accused of ingratitude and stand co n d em n ed b y "w hat people sa y , w h ich is w hat gives his actions their social m ean ing. T h e man w h o has not avenged a m urder, not b ou gh t back his land from a rival fam ily, not married off his daughters in tim e, sees his capital d im in ish ed from day to day by passing tim e - unless he is capable o f transform ing forced delay into strategic deferm ent, th e sp ace of tim e in to deliberate sp acin g o u t: p utting off revenge or the return o f a gift can b e a w ay o f keeping o n es partner-opponent

From the mechanics o f the model to the dialectic o f strategies

in th e dark about o n e s in tention s; the m om ent for th e com eback becom es im possible to p in p oin t, like the really evil m om en t in the ill-o m en ed periods of the ritual calendar, just b efore the upturn. A fter a certain p oint lack of response ceases to be an oversigh t and b ecom es disdainful refusal. D elay is also a w ay o f exacting from h im the deferential con d u ct that is required as long as relations are not broken off. It is understandable w ith in th is logic that a m an w hose daughter is asked for in m arriage sh ou ld feel he has to reply as soon as p ossible if the answ er is no, lest he seem to be taking advantage of th e situ ation , and offend the suitor, w hereas if he in tend s to say yes, he m ay put off th e reply for as lon g as h e likes, so as to m ake the m ost of the tem porary advantage of his p osition, w h ich he w ill lose as soon as he gives his con sent. E veryth in g takes place as if the ritualization o f interactions had the paradoxical effect of g iv in g tim e its full social efficacy, never m ore potent than w h en n oth in g but tim e is goin g o n . " T im e , w e say, " is on h is s id e ; tim e can also w ork against on e. In other w ords, tim e derives its efficacy from the state o f th e structure of relations w ith in w h ich it com es into p la y ; w hich does not im ply that the m odel of that structure can leave it ou t of account. W hen the u n fo ld in g o f the action is heavily ritualized, as in the dialectic of offence and ven gean ce, there is still room for strategies w h ich consist of playing on the tim e, or rather th e tempo, o f the action, by d elayin g revenge so as to prolong the threat of revenge. A nd th is is true, a fo rtio ri, of all the less strictly regulated occasion s w hich offer u n lim ited sco p e for strategies ex p lo itin g th e p ossib ilities offered by m anipulation of the tem p o of the action - h old in g back or p u ttin g off, m aintaining su sp en se or exp ectation , or on the other hand, h urrying, h ustlin g, surprising, and stealing a m arch, not to m en tion the art of osten tatiou sly givin g tim e (" d ev o tin g o n es tim e to som e o n e ) or w ith h o ld in g it ("n o tim e to sp a re). W e know , for exam p le, how m uch advantage the holder o f a transm issible pow er can derive from the art o f d elayin g transm ission and keeping others in the dark as to his ultim ate in ten tio n s. T h en there are all th e strategies in tend ed sim p ly to neutralize the action o f tim e and ensure th e continuity of interpersonal relations, drawing the co n tin u ou s ou t of the d iscon tin u ou s, as m athem aticians d o , through infinite m ultip lication of th e infinitely sm all, in th e form , for exam ple, of the "little presen ts said to " keep friendship g o in g (" O present - thunticht you w o n t make m e rich b ut you are the bond of frie n d sh ip ).
Little presents, which are halfway between "gratuitous gifts ( elma'tar, unreturned gift, "like a m others m ilk , or thikchi, a thing given w ithout recom pense) and the most rigorously " forced gifts, must be of m odest value and hence easy to give and easy to match; but they must be frequent, and in a sense continuous, w hich implies that they must function within the logic of "surprises or "kind th ou gh ts rather than according to the m echanism s of ritual. T h ese presents intended to maintain the everyday order of social intercourse almost always consist of a dish of cooked food,

The- objective limits o f objectivism

couscous (with a piece of cheese, when they mark a cow s first milk) and follow the course of minor family celebrations - the third or seventh day after a birth, a babys first tooth or first steps, a b oys first haircut, first visit to the market, or first fast; linked to events in the life-cycle of men or the earth, they involve those wishing to impart their joy, and those invited to take part in that joy, in what is nothing less than a fertility rite: when the dish which contained the present is taken back, it always contains, "for good lu ck ( el fa l), what is som etim es called thiririth (from er, to give back), that is to say, a little corn, a little sem olina (never barley, a female plant and symbol of fragility), or, preferably, som e dried vegetables, chick peas, lentils, etc., called ajedjig "flower, given "so that the boy [the reason for the exchange] will flourish , so that he will grow tall and be fruitful. T hese ordinary gifts (which include som e of those they call tharzefth, which are visiting-presents) are sharply opposed to extraordinary gifts, Ikhir or lehna, given for the major festivals called thimeghrivnn (sing, thameghra) - w eddings, births, and circum cisions - and a fortiori to Iw'ada, the obligatory gift to a saint. A nd indeed, the little gifts between relatives and friends are opposed to the present of m oney and eggs which is given by affines remote both in space and in the genealogy, and also in time - since they are seen only intermittently, on the "great occasions - and whose importance and solem nity make them a sort of controlled challenge in the same way that marriages within the lineage or neighbour hood, so frequent and so closely w oven into the fabric of ordinary exchanges that they pass unnoticed, are opposed to the more prestigious but infinitely more hazardous extraordinary marriages between different villages or tribes, som etim es intended to set the seal on alliances or reconciliations and always marked by solemn ceremonies.

T h is takes u s a lon g w ay from the objectivist m odel o f the m echanical interlocking of preregulated actions that is com m only associated w ith the notion of ritu al: on ly a virtuoso w ith a perfect com m and o f his "art of liv in g can play on all the resources inherent in the am biguities and uncertainties of behaviour and situ ation in order to produce the actions appropriate to each case, to do that of w hich p eop le w ill say " T h ere w as n oth ing else to be d o n e , and do it the right w ay. W e are a lon g w ay, too, from norm s and rules: doubtless there are slips, m istakes, and m om ents of clum sin ess to be observed here as elsew h ere; and also gram m arians of decorum able to state (and elegantly, too) w hat it is right to do and say, but never presum ing to encom pass in a catalogue o f recurrent situations and appropriate con d uct, still less in a fatalistic m odel, th e " art of the necessary improvisation w hich defines excellen ce. T o restore to practice its practical truth, w e m ust therefore reintroduce tim e into the theoretical representation of a practice w h ich , b ein g tem porally structured, is intrinsically defined by its tempo. T h e generative, organizing schem e w hich gives a d iscu ssion its unity or an im provised speech its "argu m e n t, and attains con sciou s expression in order to work itself o u t, is an o ften im precise b u t system atic principle of selection and realization, ten d in g, through steadily directed adjustm ents and corrections, to elim inate accidents w hen they can be put to u se, and to conserve even fortuitous su ccesses. It is therefore practice, in its m ost specific asp ect, w hich is annihilated w hen

From the mechanics o f the model to the dialectic o f strategies

the schem e is identified with the m odel: retrospective necessity becom es prospective n ecessity, the product a p roject; and things w hich have h ap p en ed , and can no longer not happen, becom e th e irresistible future of the acts w hich made th em happen. T h is am ounts to p ositing, with D iod oru s, that if it is true to say of a thin g that it w ill be, then it m ust one day be true to say that it is, or, in the w ords of another paradox, that " T o d a y is tom orrow , because yesterday tomorrow' w'as to d a y .8 All exp erience of practice contradicts these paradoxes, and affirms that cycles o f reciprocity are not the irresistible gearing o f obligatory practices found on ly in ancient tra g ed y : a gift may remain unrequited, if it m eets w'ith ingratitude; it m ay be spurned as an in su lt .9 O nce the p ossib ility is adm itted that th e "m echanical law' o f the "cycle of reciprocity m ay not apply, the w'hole logic of practice is transform ed. Even in cases in w hich the agen ts h abitus are perfectly harm onized and the interlocking of actions and reactions is totally predictable from outside, uncer tainty rem ains as to the ou tcom e of th e interaction as long as the sequence has not been c o m p le te d : the passage from the highest probability to absolute certainty is a qualitative leap w hich is n ot proportionate to the num erical gap. T h is uncertainty, w h ich finds its objective basis in the probabilist logic of social law s, is sufficient to m odify not on ly the experience of practice (w hich phenom enological analysis describes, b ein g m ore attentive than objectivism to the tem porality of action) but practice itself, in givin g an objective founda tion to strategies aim ed at avoiding th e m ost probable ou tcom e. T o su bstitute strategy for the rule is to reintroduce tim e, w ith its rhythm , its orientation, its irreversibility. S cien ce has a tim e w hich is not that of practice. For the analyst, tim e no lon ger cou n ts: not only b e c a u s e - a s has often been repeated sin ce M ax W eber - arriving post festum, he cannot be in any uncertainty as to w hat m ay h app en , b u t also because he has the tim e to totalize, i.e . to overcom e the effects o f tim e. Scientific practice is so "detem poralized that it ten ds to exclu d e even the idea of what it e x c lu d e s: because scien ce is p ossib le only in a relation to tim e w hich is op posed to that of practice, it ten d s to ignore tim e and, in d oin g so, to reify practices. (W hich is to say, once again, that epistem ological reflection is con stitu tive of scientific practice its e lf: in order to understand w hat practice is - and in particular the properties it ow es to the fact that it u nfolds in tim e - it is therefore necessarv to know' what scien ce is - and in particular w hat is im plied in the specific tem porality of scientific practice.) T h e detem poralizing effect (visib le in the syn optic apprehension that diagram s m ake p ossib le) that scien ce produces w hen it forgets the transform ation it im poses on practices inscribed in the current of tim e, i.e. detotalized, sim p ly by totalizing th em , is never m ore pernicious than w'hen exerted on practices defined by the fact that their tem poral structure, direction, and rhythm are constitutive o f their m eaning.


T he objective limits o f objectivism

From the "ru les o f honour to the sense o f honour T h ere are w ays of avoiding ethnocentrism w hich are perhaps no m ore than so m any d ev ices for keep in g one s distance and, at all ev en ts, for m aking a virtue ou t of n ecessity by con verting a de facto exclu sion into a ch oice of m eth od . T h u s, there w ould be less danger of locking the exchan ge of honour or the seem in gly m ost ritualized g ift exchange in reified, reifying m odels, if one were able to procure a theoretical m astery of social practices of the sam e class as those o f w hich one may have a practical m astery. T h ere is n oth ing, for exam ple, m ore likely to inspire in an outside observer the illusion of m echan ical necessity than fo rc e d conversation, w hich , to perpetuate itself, m ust en d lessly create and recreate, often ex nihilo, the relationship b etw een the interlocutors, m oving them apart and bringing them together, constraining them to seek out points of agreem ent and disagreem ent, w ith the sam e earnestness at once sincere and feign ed , m aking them by turns trium ph and retreat, arousing m ock quarrels that are always on the verge of b eco m in g real on es, but q uickly settled by a com prom ise or a return to the safe ground of shared con victions. B ut, by a radical change in p oint of view , o n e can equally apprehend th is m echanical sequ en ce o f gestures and w ords "from a subjective point o f v ie w , as th e M arx of the Theses on Feuerbach som ew hat rashly puts it, or, preferably, from the stand point of an adequate theory of practice: the u nceasing v igilance one n eed s to exert so as to be " carried along by th e gam e, w ithou t b ein g " carried away beyond the gam e, as happens w hen a m ock fight gets the better of the fighters, is evidence that practices as visibly constrained as these rest on the sam e principle as conduct m ore likely to g iv e an equally m isleadin g im pression o f free im provisation, such as bluff or seduction, w hich play on th e eq u ivocation s, in n u en d os, and unspoken im plication s o f verbal or gestural sym bolism to produce am biguous con d uct that can be d isow ned at th e slightest sign o f w ithdraw al or refusal, and to m aintain uncertainty about in ten tion s that alw ays hesitate b etw een playfulness and seriou sn ess, abandon and reserve, eagerness and indifference. T h e language of rules and m od els, w hich seem s tolerable w hen applied to " a lie n practices, ceases to con vin ce as soon as one considers th e practical m astery of th e sym b olism of social interaction - tact, d exterity, or savoir-faire - p resupposed by th e m ost everyday gam es o f sociability and accom panied by the application of a sp ontaneous sem iology, i.e . a m ass o f precepts, form ulae, and codified cu es. T h is practical know ledge, based on the con tin u ou s d eco d in g o f the perceived - b u t not con sciously noticed - in dices of th e w elcom e given to actions already accom plished, co n tin u o u sly carries out the checks and corrections intended to ensure the adjustm ent o f practices and exp ression s to the reactions and expectations of the other agents. It fu n ction s

From the "rules o f honour to the sense o f honour


like a se lf-r e g u la tin g d evice program m ed to redefine courses of action in

accordance w ith inform ation received on the reception o f inform ation trans m itted and on th e effects produced by that inform ation. It can be seen that the tvpical herm eneutic paradigm of the exchan ge o f w ords is perhaps less appropriate than the paradigm of the exchan ge of b low s used by G eorge H . M ead .10 In d og-fights, as in the fighting o f children or boxers, each m ove triggers off a cou n ter-m ove, every stance o f the body becom es a sign pregnant with a m eaning that the op p on en t has to grasp w hile it is still in cip ient, reading in th e b egin nings of a stroke or a sid estep the im m inent future, i.e. the blow or the d u m m y. A nd the d u m m y itself, in b oxin g as in conversa tion, in exchanges of honour as in m atrim onial transactions, presupposes an opponent capable of preparing a riposte to a m ovem en t that has barely b eg u n and w ho can th u s be tricked in to faulty anticipation. It is sufficient to carry out a sim ilar reversal of perspective in order to see that one can, for exam ple, produce practically or reproduce theoretically all the honour con d ucts actually observed (or p otentially ob servab le), remarkable at once for their inexhaustible diversity and their quasi-m echanical n ecessity, w ithout p ossessing the "filing-cabinet of prefabricated represen tation s, as Jakobson puts it ,11 that w ou ld enable the agent to " se le c t the conduct appropriate to each situ ation , and w ith ou t having to construct at great expense of effort a " m ech a n ica l m odel w hich w ould at best be to the man of honou rs regulated im provisation w hat an etiq u ette handbook is to the art of living or a harm ony treatise to m usical com p osition . T h e scien ce of practice has to construct the principle w hich m akes it possible to account for all the cases observed, and on ly those, w ith ou t forgettin g that th is con stru c tion, and the generative operation of w hich it is the basis, are on ly the theoretical equivalent of the practical sch em e w hich enables every correctly trained agent to produce all the practices and jud gm ents of honour called for by the ch allenges of existence. T o make som eon e a challenge is to cred it him w ith the dignity o f a man of honour, sin ce th e challenge, as su ch , requires a riposte and therefore is addressed to a man d eem ed capable of playing the gam e of honour, and of playing it w ell. From the principle of m utual recognition of equality in h onour there follow s a first corollary: the challenge confers h onour. " T h e m an w ho has no e n em ie s, say th e K ab yles, "is a d o n k ey (th e sym bol of passivity). T h ere is n oth in g w orse than to pass u n n oticed : thu s, not to salute som eon e is to treat him like a th in g, an anim al, or a w om an. T h e challenge, conversely, is ' a high point in the life o f the man w ho receives i t . It is the chance to prove o n e s m anliness (thirugza) to others and to on eself. A second corollary is this: he w ho ch allenges a man incapable of taking up the ch allenge, that is, incapable of pursuing the exch an ge, d ishon ou rs h im self. T h u s elbahadla,


T he objective limits o f objectivism

extrem e hum iliation p ub licly in flicted , recoils on the man w h o provokes it ( am ahbul): even the man w h o m erits elbahadla p ossesses an honour; that is w hy elbahadla boom erangs. H cncc the m an w ho finds h im self in a strong p osition m ust refrain from p u sh in g his advantage too far, and sh ou ld tem per his accusation with a certain m oderation, so as to let his adversary p ut him self to sham e. " Better that he sh ou ld strip h im s e lf , says the proverb, "than that I sh ould unclothe h im . H is op p on en t, for his part, can alw ays try to turn the tables by leading him on to overstep the perm itted lim its. T h is is d one in the hope of rallying p u b lic op in ion , w hich cannot but disapprove of the accusers lack of m oderation. T h e third corollary is that only a ch allenge (or o ffence) com in g from an equal in honour deserves to be taken u p; in other w ords, for there to be a ch allen ge, the m an w ho receives it m ust consider the m an w ho makes it w orthy of m aking it. An affront from a p resum ptuous inferior rebounds on its author. " T h e prudent, circum spect m an [amahdhuq] d oes not get involved w ith an amahbul." E lbahadla w ould fall on the w ise man w h o ventured to take up the am ah bufs senseless ch allenge; w hereas in abstaining from all reply, he leaves him to bear the w eig h t o f his arbitrary acts. L ik ew ise, dishonour w ould fall on the m an w ho dirtied his hands in an unw orthy revenge (h en ce, in certain cases, recourse to the hired killer, am ekri). It is therefore th e nature of the riposte w hich m akes the challenge a ch allen ge, as opposed to m ere aggression .12 In gam e theory, the good player is the on e w ho alw ays su p p o ses his op p on en t w ill discern the b est strategy and w h o directs his ow n play accord ingly; sim ilarly, in the gam e of honour, ch allenge and riposte alike im p ly that each player ch ooses to play the gam e as w ell as he can w hile assu m ing that his adversary is capable of m aking the sam e choice. T h e gift is a challenge w hich honou rs the man to w hom it is addressed, at the sam e tim e p utting his p oint of honour (nif) to the test; con seq u en tly, just as to in sult a man incapable of riposting d ishon ou rs on eself, so to make a present so great that it cannot be m atched m erely d ishon ou rs th e giver. A gift or ch allenge is a provocation, a provocation to reply. " H e has sham ed h im , the M oroccan Berbers used to say, accord in g to M arcv, apropos of the ch allen ge-gift ( taw sa) w hich m arked the great cerem o n ies .13 T h e receiver of a gift is caught in the toils of exchan ge and has to ch oose a line of conduct w h ich , w hatever he d oes, w ill be a response (even if o n ly by d efault) to the provocation of the initial act. H e can choose to prolon g the exchan ge or to break it off. If, ob ed ien t to th e p oint o f honour, he op ts for exch an ge, his choice is identical w ith his o p p o n en ts initial ch oice: h e agrees to play th e gam e, w'hich can go on for ever, for the riposte is in itself a new ch allen ge. Form erly, it is said , as soon as ven gean ce had been taken, the w h ole fam ily rejoiced at the en d in g of dish on ou r: th e m en let off rifle sh o ts and the w om en uttered cries of* y o u -y o u \

From the "rules o f honour to the sense o f honour


oclaim ing that revenge was accom plished, so that all m ig h t see h ow a fam ily of honour prom ptly restores its prestige and so that the o p p o sin g fam ily sh ould be left in no d ou b t as to th e source o f its m isfortune. C hoosing th e other alternative m ay take on different and even op posed m eanings. T h e offender m ay, in term s o f h is p hysical stren g th , h is prestige, or the im portance and authority of the group to w h ich he b elo n g s, be superior, equal,

inferior to the person offend ed . W hile the logic o f honour presupposes

the recognition of an ideal equality in h onou r, the popular con sciou sn ess is nonetheless aware o f actual in eq ualities. T h e m an w h o declares " I ve got a m oustache, t o o is answ ered w ith the proverb " T h e m oustache o f the hare is not that o f the l i o n . . . T h is is the basis o f a w h ole sp ontaneous casuistry. Let us take the case w here the offended party has, at least ideally, the m eans to riposte; if h e proves incapable of taking u p the challenge (w hether a gift or an offence), if from pusillanim ity or w eakness he sid estep s it and renounces the chance o f ripostin g, he is in a sen se ch oosin g to be the author o f h is ow n dishonour, w hich is then irrem ediable. H e con fesses h im self d efeated in the gam e that he ou gh t to have played d esp ite everyth ing. But n on-reply can also express the refusal to reply: the m an w h o has suffered an offence refuses to regard it as su ch , and through his d isd ain , w hich he m ay m anifest by calling in a hired killer, he cau ses the offence to recoil on its perpetrator, w h o is thereby d ishon ou red . Sim ilarly in the case of the gift, th e recipient may indicate that he ch ooses to refuse the exch an ge, either by rejecting the gift or by p resen tin g an im m ediate or su b seq u en t cou n ter-gift identical to the original g ift. H ere, to o , the exchange sto p s. In sh ort, w ithin th is logic, only escalation, ch allenge an sw ering challenge, can sign ify the op tion o f playing the gam e. In th e case w here the offender is clearly superior to the offend ed , only the fact o f avoiding the ch allenge is held to be blam ew orthy, and the offended party is not required to trium ph over th e offender in order to be rehabilitated in the eyes of p ub lic op in ion : the d efeated m an w h o has d o n e his duty incurs no blam e. T h e offend ed party is even able to throw back elbahadla on his offender w ithou t resorting to a riposte. H e on ly has to adopt an attitude of h um ility w h ich , by em p h asizin g his w eakness, h igh lig h ts the arbitrary and im m oderate character of the offence. T h is strategy is, o f cou rse, only ad m is sib le so lon g as, in the eyes of the grou p , th e disparity b etw een th e tw o antagonists is u nequ ivocal; it is a natural course for those individuals socially recognized as weak, clien ts (ya d h itsumuthen, those w h o lean o n ), or m em bers o f a sm all fam ily. F in ally, in the case w here the offender is inferior to the offend ed , the latter m ay riposte (th u s transgressing the third corollary) b u t if he unfairly exp loits his advantage, he exp oses him self to th e d ishon ou r w hich w ould otherw ise


T h e objective lim its o f objectivism

have rebounded on to the p resum ptuou s offend er. W isdom advises him rather to abstain from any reply and to play the " c o n te m p t gam bit: sin ce failure to riposte cannot be im pu ted to cow ardice or w eakness, th e d ishon ou r recoils on to the attacker. A lth ou gh each of th ese " th eo retica l cases cou ld be illustrated w ith a host of observations and stories, th e fact rem ains that the differences b etw een the tw o parties are never clear-cut, so that each can play on the am bigu ities and eq u ivocation s w hich this indeterm inacy len d s to the co n d u ct. T h e distance b etw een failure to riposte o w in g to fear and non-reply b espeaking con tem p t is often infinitesim al, w ith the resu lt that d isdain can alw ays serve as a mask for pusillanim ity. Every exchange con tains a m ore or less dissim ulated ch allenge, and th e logic o f ch allenge and riposte is b ut the lim it tow ards w h ich every act of com m un ication ten d s. G en erou s exchan ge tends tow ards overw h elm in g g en er o sity ; the greatest gift is at the sam e tim e the gift m ost likely to throw its recipient into d ishon ou r b y p roh ibitin g any cou n ter-gift. T o redu ce to the fun ction o f com m un ication - albeit by th e transfer of borrow ed co n cep ts p henom en a such as the d ialectic o f ch allenge and riposte and, m ore generally, th e exchange of gifts, w ord s, or w o m en , is to ignore th e structural am bivalen ce w hich predisposes them to fulfil a political function of d om in ation in and through perform ance o f th e com m u n ication fun ction . If th e offence d oes not necessarily bear w ith in it d ishon ou r, the reason is that it allow s the p ossib ility of riposte, w h ich is recognized b y the very act o f g iv in g offen ce .14 But p otential d ishon ou r becom es m ore and m ore real the longer vengeance is d elayed. T h erefore th e tim e-lag b etw een the offence and the reparation m ust be as sh ort as p ossib le; a large fam ily has in deed sufficient fightin g m en not to have to w ait lon g. T h e reputation o f its nif, its sen sitivity and d eterm in ation, lead it to appear as capable of rip ostin g the very instant an offence is com m itted . T h e respect inspired b y a good fam ily is exp ressed in the saying that it can "sleep and leave th e door o p e n . T h e m an o f honour, o f w h om p eop le say that he fulfils " h is role as a m a n ( thirugza), is alw ays on his g u a rd ; h en ce h e is im m u n e from even th e m ost reckless attack, and "even w hen he is aw ay, there is som eon e in his h o u s e . But th in g s are n ot so sim p le. It is said that D jeh a, a legendary figure, asked w h en h e had aven ged his father, replied , "A fter a hundred years had g o n e b y . T h e story is also told o f th e lion w ho alw ays walks w ith m easured p a ces: " I d o n t know w here m y prey i s , he said. " I f its in fron t o f m e, on e day I ll reach it; if its b eh ind m e, itll catch up w ith m e . H ow ever close it m ay com e to the logic o f practices (and to the extent that it d o es), the abstract diagram w h ich has to be constructed in order to account for that logic is liable to ob scu re the fact that the drivin g force of the w hole m echanism is not som e abstract principle (th e principle of iso tim y , eq u ality

From the "rules o f honour to the sense o f honour


in h onou r), still less the set o f rules w hich can be d erived from it, but the sense o f h onou r, a d isp osition inculcated in the earliest years of life and constantly reinforced b y calls to order from th e grou p , that is to say, from the aggregate of the in dividu als en d ow ed w ith the sam e d isp o sitio n s, to w hom each is linked b y h is d isp osition s and in terests. N if, literally the n o se, is very closely associated w ith virility and with all the d isp ositio n s, incorporated in the form o f bodily sch em es, w hich are held to m anifest v ir ility ; th e verb qabel, com m only used to design ate the fundam ental virtu es of the m an o f honour, the m an w h o faces, ou tfaces, stand s up to others, looks th em in the ey es, knows how to receive as a host and to d o his gu est h on ou r, also m eans to face the east (elqibla) and the future (qabel), th e m ale orientation par ex cellen ce. T h is is sufficient to rem ind us that the point o f honour is a perm anent d isp osition , em bedded in the agen ts very bodies in the form o f m ental d ispositions, schem es of p ercep tion and th ou gh t, extrem ely general in their application, such as those w h ich d ivid e up th e w orld in accordance w ith th e op position s betw een the m ale and th e fem ale, east and w est, future and past, top and bottom , right and left, e tc ., and also, at a d eep er level, in th e form o f bodily postures and stances, w ays o f standing, sittin g , look in g, sp eak ing, or w alking. What is called the sense o f honour is n oth in g other than the cultivated disposition, inscribed in the b ody schem a and in th e sch em es of thou ght, w hich enables each agent to en gen d er all the practices co n sisten t w ith the logic o f ch allenge and riposte, and on ly su ch p ractices, by m eans o f cou n t less in ven tion s, w h ich th e stereotyped u n fold in g o f a ritual w ould in no w ay dem and. T h e fact that there is n o " c h o ic e that cannot be accounted for, retrospectively at least, d oes not im ply that su ch practice is perfectly predic table, like the acts inserted in the rigorously stereotyped seq u en ces of a rite; and this is true not on ly for the observer b ut also for the agen ts, w ho find in the relative predictability and u np redictab ility o f the p ossib le ripostes the op portu nity to put their strategies to work. But even the m ost strictly ritualized exchan ges, in w h ich all th e m om ents o f th e action , and their u n fold in g, are rigorously foreseen, have room for strategies: th e agents rem ain in com m and of the interval b etw een th e ob ligatory m om ents and can therefore act on their o p p on en ts b y p layin g w ith th e tempo o f the exch an ge. W e know that returning a gift at o n ce, i.e . d oing away w ith the interval, am ounts to breaking off the exch an ge. L ikew ise th e lesson con tained in the parables of D jeha and the lion m ust be taken seriou sly; the m astery w h ich defines ex cellen ce finds exp ression in th e play m ade w ith tim e w h ich transform s ritual ized exchan ge in to a confrontation of strategies. T h e skilled strategist can turn a capital of provocations received or con flicts su sp en d ed , w ith the potential ripostes, ven gean ces, or con flicts it con tains, into an in stru m ent o f power, b y reserving the capacity to reopen or cease h ostilities in his ow n good tim e.


T h e objective limits o f objectivism

Practice an d discourse about practice It w ould th u s be p ossib le to m ove on to th e grou n d w here talk of rules seem s least m isp laced , that of cu sto m or " p re -la w , and sh o w that the "custom ary r u le s preserved by the grou p m em ory are th em selv es the p rod uct of a small batch o f sch em es en ab lin g agen ts to generate an in finity of p ractices adapted to en d lessly ch an gin g situ ation s, w ith ou t th ose sch em es ever b ein g constituted as exp licit p rin cip les. T h is is w h y, like W eb ers K ad i-ju stice, cu stom ary law alw ays seem s to pass from particular case to particular case, from th e specific m isd eed to th e specific san ction , n ever exp ressly form u latin g th e fundam ental p rin cip les w h ich " ration al law sp ells out exp licitly (e .g . all m en are equal in h on ou r ).15 T h e appropriate acts o f jurisp ru dence co n cern in g a particular offence, for exam p le, th ose m aking it p ossib le to assess the gravity of a theft accord in g to the circu m stan ces in w h ich it w as com m itted , can all be produced from a sm all n um ber of sc h e m e s that are con tin u o u sly ap plied in all dom ains o f practice, su ch as the op p o sitio n s b etw een the h o u se (or m o sq u e) and other places, b etw een night and d ay, b etw een feast d ays and ordinary d ays, the first m em ber of each pair alw ays corresp ond ing to the severer p en alty. It is clear that it is sufficient to co m b in e th e corresp on d in g p rin cip les to p rod uce the sanction appropriate to each case, real or im aginary - from , for exam p le, theft com m itted b y n ight from a d w ellin g h ou se, the m ost h ein o u s, to th eft by day in a d istan t field, the least h ein o u s, other th in gs b ein g eq u al, of co u rse .16 T h e g en erative sch em es are so gen erally and au tom atically a p plicab le that th ey are con verted in to exp licit p rin cip les, form ally stated, only in the very case in w hich th e value o f the object stolen is su ch as to sw eep aside all extenu atin g or aggravating circu m stan ces. T h u s the qanun of Ighil Im oula, for exam p le, reported by H anoteau and L eto u rn eu x , p rovid es that "he w h o steals a m u le, ox or cow , b y force or trickery shall pay

50 reals to th e djem aa and pay the

ow ner the value o f the stolen anim al, w h eth er the theft w as by night or by d a y , from inside a house o r outside, and w hether the anim als belong to the householder o r to someone else .17 T h e sam e b asic sch em es, alw ays fu n ctio n in g in the im p licit state, ap ply in th e case of braw ls, w h ich togeth er w ith th efts norm ally occu p y a con sid erab le place in cu sto m ; there are th e sam e o p p osition s, b u t som etim es w ith n ew im p licatio n s, b etw een the h ouse and other p laces (th e m urder of a person cau gh t in o n es h o m e , for exam p le, en tailin g no sa n ctio n ), n igh t-tim e and d aytim e, feast days and ordinary days; and there are also variations accord in g to th e social status of th e aggressor and the victim (m an /w om an , ad u lt/ch ild ) and th e w eap on s or m eth od s used (w h eth er it w as b y treachery - if, for exam p le, the victim w as asleep - or in m an-to-m an com b at) and the extent to w h ich the deed w as carried o u t (m ere threats or actual v io le n c e). T h er e is every reason to think that if the basic

Practice and discourse about practice


tions o f th is im plicit axiom atics w ere sp elled out m ore co m p letely than Pr here (e .g . a crim e is alw ays m ore seriou s com m itted by n ig h t than ding on the case, tw o p rop osition s m ay either be added togeth er or ncel each other ou t, w h ich , w ith in the logic of th e rule, can o n ly be
d e scrib ed as an ex c ep tio n ), it w ould be p ossib le to reproduce all th e provisions of all the custom ary law s w h ich have b een collected and even to produce the co m p lete universe of all the acts of jurisprudence con form in g to th e "sen se of ju stice in its K ab yle form .

1S ^ m itted hv d av). together w ith the law s by w h ich th ev are com b ined A com -

T h u s the p recepts o f cu sto m , very close in this resp ect to sayin gs and proverbs (such as th ose w h ich govern th e tem poral d istrib u tion of activ ities), have noth ing in com m on w ith the tran scend en t rules of a juridical code: everyone is able, not so m uch to cite and recite them from m em o ry , as to repro duce them (fairly accurately). It is because each agent has the m eans of acting as a judge of others and of h im self that cu stom has a hold on h im : in d eed , in social form ations w here, as in K abvlia, there exists no judicial apparatus endow ed w ith a m on op oly of physical or even sy m b o lic v io len ce and w here clan assem b lies fu n ction as sim p le arbitration tribunals, that is, as m ore or less expanded fam ily cou n cils, the ru les of cu stom ary law have so m e practical efficacy on ly to the ex te n t that, sk ilfully m anip ulated b y the h olders of authority w ithin the clan (th e " gu aran tors), th ey "aw a k en , so to speak, the schem es of perception and appreciation d ep osited , in their incorporated state, in every m em ber of the grou p , i.e . the d isp o sitio n s o f the h abitus. T h e y are therefore separated on ly b y d ifferen ces o f degree from th e partial and often fictitious exp licit statem en ts of the g ro u p s im p licit axiom atics through w hich individual m ore-or-less " a u th o r ize d agen ts seek to cou n ter the failures or hesitations of th e h abitus by stating th e so lu tio n s appropriate to difficult cases. Talk of rules, a eu p h em ized form of legalism , is n ever m ore fallacious than w hen applied to the m ost h om o g en eo u s societies (or the least codified areas of differentiated so cieties) w here m ost p ractices, in clu d in g th o se seem in g ly m ost ritualized, can b e abandoned to the orchestrated im provisation of com m on d isp osition s: the rule is never, in th is case, m ore than a secon d -b est in tend ed to m ake g ood the occasional m isfirings o f the co llectiv e enterprise of in cu lcation ten d in g to p rod uce h abitus that are capable o f gen erating practices regulated w ith ou t exp ress regulation or any in stitu tion alized call to ord er .18 It go es w ith o u t sayin g that th e im p licit p h ilo so p h y o f practice w hich pervades the anthropological tradition w ould n ot have su rvived all th e d en u n ciations of legalist form alism if it had not had an affinity w ith the p resu p p o si tions in scrib ed in th e relation ship b etw een the ob server and th e o b ject of his stu d y, w h ich im p ose th em selv es in the very con stru ction o f his ob ject so lon g


T h e objective limits o f objectivism

as they are not exp licitly taken as an ob ject. N ative exp erience o f the social w orld never ap preh en ds th e system o f ob jective relations other than in profiles, i.e . in th e form o f relations w h ich present th em selv es o n ly on e by on e, and h en ce su cc essiv ely , in the em ergen cy situ ation s of everyday life. If agents are p ossessed by th eir h abitus m ore than th ey p ossess it, this is because it acts w ith in th em as the organ izing p rin cip le of their action s, and because th is modus operan di in form in g all th ou g h t and action (including th o u gh t o f action ) reveals itself only in th e opus operatum . In v ited b y the a n th rop ologists q u e stio n in g to effect a reflexive and quasi-theoretical return on to h is ow n practice, th e b est-in form ed in form an t p rod uces a discourse which compounds tw o opposing system s o f lacunae. Insofar as it is a discourse of fa m ilia rity , it leaves u n said all that g o es w ith o u t sayin g: the inform ants remarks - like the narratives or com m en taries o f those w h o m H eg el calls 'original h isto ria n s (H ero d o tu s, T h u c y d id e s, X en o p h o n , or Caesar) who, liv in g "in the sp irit o f the e v e n t ,19 take for granted the p resu p p o sitio n s taken for granted b y the historical agen ts - are in evitab ly subject to the censorship inherent in their h abitus, a sy ste m o f sch em es of p erception and th o u g h t w hich cannot g iv e w hat it d oes g iv e to b e th o u g h t and perceived w ith ou t ipso facto p rod ucing an unthin k able and an u nn am eable. Insofar as it is an outsideroriented discourse it ten ds to ex c lu d e all direct reference to particular cases (that is, virtually all in form ation d irectly attached to p ro p er names ev o k in g and su m m arizin g a w h ole sy stem of previous in form ation ). B ecau se th e native is that m uch less in clin ed to slip in to the language o f fam iliarity to th e extent that his q u estion er strikes him as unfam iliar w ith th e u n iverse of reference im plied b y his discou rse (a fact apparent in the form of the q u estio n s asked, particular or general, ign oran t or in fo rm ed ), it is u nderstandable that an th rop ologists sh ould so o fte n forget the distance b etw een learned recon stru ction of the native w orld and the native exp erience of that w orld, an exp erience w hich finds ex p ressio n on ly in the silen ce s, ellip ses, and lacunae of the language o f fam iliarity. F in ally, th e in form an ts discou rse ow es its b est-h id d en properties to the fact that it is the p rod uct o f a sem i-theoretical d isp o sitio n , inevitab ly induced b y any learned q u estio n in g . T h e rationalizations prod uced from this sta n d p oin t, w h ich is no longer that of action, w ith ou t b ein g that of scien ce, m eet and confirm the ex p ecta tio n s of th e juridical, ethical, or gram m atical form alism to w hich his o w n situ ation in clin es the observer. T h e relationship b etw een inform ant and an th rop ologist is som ew h at an alogous to a p edagogical relation ship , in w hich the m aster m u st b rin g to th e state of ex p licitn ess, for the p urposes of tran sm ission , the u n con sciou s sch em es o f h is practice. Just as the tea ch in g o f ten n is, th e vio lin , ch ess, d an cin g , or b o x in g breaks dow n into in dividu al p osition s, ste p s, or m oves, p ractices w h ich in tegrate all these

Practice an d discourse about practice


artificia activity,

isolated elem en tary u nits of beh aviour in to the u n ity of an organized in form an ts d isco u rse, in w h ich h e strives to give h im self the sym b olic m astery o f his p ractice, ten d s to draw attention to

a^ r n o s t rem arkable " m o v e s , i.e . th ose m ost esteem ed or rep reh en d ed , in thC different social gam es (su ch as elbahadla in the h on ou r gam e or m arriage

1 th the parallel cousin a m o n g th e m atrim onial strategies), rather than to the

ole from w h ich th e se m oves and all eq u ally p ossib le m o v es can be erated and w h ich , b elo n g in g to th e u n iverse of the u n d isp u ted , m ost often remain in their im p licit state. B ut th e su b tlest pitfall d o u b tless lies in the fact that such d escrip tion s freely draw on the h igh ly a m b ig u o u s vocabulary of rules, the language of gram m ar, m orality, and law , to exp ress a social practice that in fact o b ey s q u ite different prin cip les. T h e exp lan ation agents may provide o f their ow n practice, thanks to a quasi theoretical reflection on their practice, con ceals, ev en from their ow n eyes, the true nature o f their practical m astery, i.e . that it is learned ignorance (docta ignorantia), a m ode of practical k n ow led ge not com p risin g k n ow led ge o f its ow n p rin cip les. It follow s that th is learned ign oran ce can on ly giv e rise to the m islead in g discourse of a speaker h im self m isled , ignorant b oth o f th e o b jectiv e truth about his practical m astery (w h ic h is that it is ignorant of its o w n tru th ) and o f the true prin cip le of the k n ow led ge h is practical m astery co n ta in s. N ative theories are d a n gerou s not so m uch b ecause th ey lead research towards illusory exp lan ation s as b ecau se they b rin g q u ite su perflu ous rein forcem ent to the in tellectu alist ten d e n c y in h eren t in th e ob jectivist approach to practices. T h is acad em icism of th e social " a r t o f living w h ich , having extracted from the opus operatum the su p p o sed principles of its p rod u ction , sets them up as norm s ex p lic itly g overn in g practices (w ith phrases like "good form req u ires. . " c u sto m d e m a n d s . . et c. ) , takes away u n d erstan d in g of the logic of practice in th e very m ovem en t in w h ich it tries to offer it. For exam ple, th e id eological u se m any so cieties m ake o f th e lineage m o d el and, m ore gen erally, of gen ealogical represen tation s, in order to justify and le g iti m ate the estab lish ed order (e .g . b y ch o o sin g the m ore orthodox of tw o p ossible w ays o f classifyin g a m arriage), w ou ld d o u b tless have b eco m e appar en t to an th rop ologists at an earlier date if the theoretical u se th ey th em selv es make of this theoretical co n stru ct had not p revented th em from in q u irin g in to the fu n ction s o f g en ea lo g ies and genealogists, and thereby from se ein g the gen ealogy as th e theoretical cen su s of th e u niverse o f theoretical relationships w ithin w hich in d ivid u als or grou p s d efine the real space o f (in b oth sen ses) practical relation ship s in term s of their conjunctural in terests. T h e im p osition and in cu lcation o f the stru ctures is n ever so p erfect that all ex p licitn ess can b e d isp e n sed w ith . A nd in cu lcation is itself, togeth er w ith in stitu tio n alizin g, w h ich is alw ays accom pan ied by a certain am oun t of


T h e objective lim its o f objectivism

ob jectification in d iscou rse (oral or w ritten ) or so m e other sy m b o lic support (em b lem s, rites, e tc .), on e of th e privileged m o m en ts for fo rm u la tin g the practical sc h e m e s and co n stitu tin g th em as p rin cip les. It is d o u b tless no a ccid en t that th e q u estion o f the relations b etw een the h ab itu s and th e " r u le sh o u ld be b rou ght to ligh t w ith th e h istorical em ergen ce o f an exp ress and e x p lic it action of in c u lc a tio n :20 th e p ed agogy of th e S o p h ists, forced , in order to realize its aim , to p rod uce sy stem s of ru les, su ch as gram m ars or rhetorics, cam e u p against the p rob lem o f the rules d efin in g th e right w ay and right m o m en t - kairos - to apply th e rules, or, as th e phrase so aptly g o es, to pu t into practice a repertoire of d ev ices or tech n iq u es, in sh o rt, th e w h o le art of p erform an ce, in w h ich th e h abitus in evitab ly reappears. A n d , n o doubt b ecau se it still partakes o f th e am b igu ou s statu s of all gram m ars, w h ich never m ake it clear w h eth er th e y recon stitu te th e real m ech an ics o f th e sch em es im m an en t in practice or th e theoretical logic of the m o d els co n stru cted in order to account for p ractices, C hom skian gen erative gram m ar n ow ad ays en tails (o b jective) rediscovery that w hat creates th e p rob lem is not the p o ssib ility o f p rod u cin g coh eren t sen ten ces in in finite n u m b er but th e fact o f coh eren tly and appropriately u sin g an in finite n u m b er of sen ten ces in an in finite n um ber o f situ ation s. It is n ot easy to d efine rigorou sly th e statu s o f th e sem i-learn ed gram m ars o f practice sayin gs, p roverbs, g n o m ic p o em s, sp o n ta n eo u s " th e o r ie s w hich alw ays accom pan y even th e m o st " a u to m a tic * p ractices, ch eck in g th e fu n c tio n in g o f th e au tom atism s or, m ore or less su cc essfu lly , m aking g o o d their m isfirin gs - and of all th e knowledges p rod uced by an "op eration o f th e secon d p o w e r w h ic h , as M erleau -P on ty ob serv es, " p resu p p o ses the stru ctu res it a n a ly ses 21 and m ore or less rigorou sly a ccou n ts for. B ein g th e p rod u ct of the sam e gen erative sc h e m e s as th e practices they claim to a ccou n t for, even the m ost false and superficial o f th ese " secon d ary exp la n a tio n s on ly reinforce the stru ctures by p rovid in g th e m w ith a particular form o f " r a tio n a liza tio n . E ven if th e y affect practice o n ly w ith in narrow lim its ,22 the fact rem ains that w h en ever th e ad ju stm ent b etw een stru ctu res and d isp o sitio n s is b rok en , the transform ation of th e gen erative sc h e m e s is d o u b tless reinforced and accelerated by th e d ialectic b etw een th e sc h e m e s im m a n en t in practice and th e n orm s p rod uced b y reflection on practices, w hich im p o se n ew m ean in gs on th em b y reference to alien stru ctures. R eaction against legalist form alism in its o vert or m asked form m ust not lead u s to m ake the h ab itu s th e ex clu siv e p rin cip le o f all p ractice. In reality, even in social form ation s w h ere, as in K ab ylia, th e m akin g ex p lic it and ob jec tify in g of th e gen erative sc h e m e s in a gram m ar o f practices, a w ritten cod e o f co n d u c t, is m in im al, it is n o n eth eless p ossib le to ob serve th e first sig n s o f a d ifferen tiation of th e d om ain s of practice accord in g to th e d egree of

Practice an d discourse about practice


t on of the p rin cip les g o v er n in g th em . B etw een the areas that are C rently " fr e e st b ecau se g iv e n over in reality to th e regulated im provisaa.PPa ^ {he h abitus (such as th e d istrib u tion of a ctivities and ob jects w ith in the^internal space of th e h o u se) and th e areas m ost strictly regulated by ustom ary norm s and u p h eld b y social san ction s (su ch as the great agrarian rites) there lies the w h ole field of practices su b jected to traditional p recep ts, custom ary recom m en dation s, ritual p rescrip tion s, fu n ctio n in g as a regulatory device w hich orien ts practice w ith o u t p rod u cin g it. T h e ab sen ce o f a g en u in e law - the product of th e w ork of a b od y of sp ecialists exp ressly m andated to produce a coh eren t corp u s of juridical norm s and ensure resp ect for its application, and fu rn ish ed to th is en d w ith a co ercive p ow er - m ust not lead us to forget that any socially recogn ized form ulation con tain s w ith in it an intrinsic pow er to rein force d isp o sitio n s sym b olically. Our approach is th u s radically o p p o sed , on tw o essen tial p oin ts, to th e interactionism w h ich redu ces th e con stru ctio n s of social sc ien ce to " c o n s tructs of the secon d d egree, that is, con stru cts o f th e co n stru cts m ade by th e actors on the social s c e n e , as S ch u tz d o e s ,23 or, like G arfinkel, to accoun ts of the accounts w hich agen ts p rod uce and through w hich they p rod uce the m eaning of th eir w o rld .24 O ne is en titled to undertake to g iv e an "accou n t of accounts , so lo n g as on e d o es not p ut forw ard o n e s co n trib u tio n to th e scien ce of pre-scien tific representation o f the social w orld as if it w ere a science o f the social w orld . But th is is still too gen ero u s, b ecau se th e pre requisite for a scien ce o f co m m o n se n se represen tation s w h ich seek s to b e m ore than a co m p licito u s d escrip tion is a sc ien ce o f th e stru ctu res w h ich govern both practices and th e con co m ita n t rep resen tation s, th e latter b ein g the principal obstacle to th e con stru ction o f su ch a sc ie n c e .25 O n ly by co n stru ctin g the objective stru ctu res (price cu rves, ch an ces o f access to h igh er ed u ca tio n , law s of th e m atrim onial m arket, e tc .) is on e able to p ose the q u estion of the m echanism s through w hich th e relation ship is esta b lish ed b etw een the structures and th e practices or th e rep resen tation s w h ich accom pan y th em , instead of treating th ese " th o u g h t o b je c ts as " r e a so n s or " m o tiv e s and m aking them th e d eterm in in g cau se o f the practices. M oreover, th e co n stitu tive pow er w hich is granted to ordinary lan guage lies not in th e lan guage itself but in the grou p w h ich au th orizes it and in vests it w ith au th ority. Official language, particularly th e sy stem of co n cep ts b y m ean s o f w hich th e m em bers of a given group p rovid e th e m se lv e s w ith a representation o f th eir social relations (e.g . th e lin eage m odel or the vocabulary of h o n o u r), sa n ctio n s and im p oses what it states, tacitly layin g d ow n th e d iv id in g lin e b etw een the thinkable and th e u n th in k ab le, th ereb y con trib u tin g tow ard s the m ainten an ce of the sy m b olic order from w h ich it draw s its au th ority. T h u s officialization is on ly one asp ect of th e ob jectify in g p rocess through w h ich th e group


T h e objective limits o f objectivism

teaches itself and con ceals from itself its ow n tru th , in scrib ing in o b jectivity its representation o f w hat it is and thu s b in d in g itself b y th is p u b lic d eclaration .26 T h e agent w h o " reg u la rizes his situ ation or puts h im self in the right is sim p ly b eating the group at its ow n gam e; in abiding by th e ru les, fallin g in to line w ith good form , he w in s the group over to h is sid e b y o sten tatiou sly h onou rin g the values the grou p h on ou rs. In social form ations in w h ich the exp ression o f m aterial in terests is heavily censored and political au th ority relatively u n in stitu tion alized , political strategies for m obilization can be effec tive only if the values they pursue or propose are presented in the m isrecognizable gu ise o f th e valu es in w hich the grou p recogn izes itself. It is therefore not sufficient to say that th e rule d eterm in es practice w h en there is m ore to -b e gained b y ob ey in g it than b y d isob eyin g it. T h e ru les last trick is to cause it to be forgotten that agents have an interest in o b ey in g th e rule, or m ore precisely, in being in a regular situation. Brutally m aterialist redu ction enables on e to break w ith th e n aiveties o f th e sp on tan eou s theory of p ra ctice; b u t it is liable to m ake on e forget the advantage that lies in ab iding b y the ru les, w h ich is the principle of the secon d-ord er strategies through w hich the agent seeks to p u t him self in the right.27 T h u s, q u ite apart from the d irect profit derived from d o in g w hat the rule prescribes, perfect con form ity to the rule can bring secondary benefits su ch as the prestige and respect w hich alm ost invariably reward an action apparently m otivated b y n o th in g other than p u re, disinterested resp ect for the rule. It follo w s that strategies d irectly o rien ted tow ards th e prim ary profit o f practice (e .g . th e prestige accruing from a m arriage) are alm ost alw ays accom pan ied b y secon d-ord er strategies w h o se purpose is to give apparent satisfaction to th e d em an d s of the official ru le, and th u s to com p oun d th e satisfaction s o f en ligh ten ed self-in terest w ith the advantage of ethical im peccability.

T he fallacies o f the rule T h e place w h ich a notion as visibly am b igu ou s as that o f the rule o ccu p ies in anthropological or lin gu istic theory cannot be fully u n d erstood u n less it is seen that th is notion p rovid es a solu tion to the con trad iction s and d ifficulties to w hich the researcher is con d em n ed b y an inadequate or - w hich am oun ts to th e sam e th in g - an im p licit theory o f practice. E veryth in g takes place as if, fulfillin g the role o f a refuge for ignorance, th is hospitab le n otion , w h ich can su ggest at on ce the law con stru cted b y scien ce, th e tran scend en t social norm and th e im m anent regularity of p ractices, enabled its user to escape from the d ilem m a of m echanism or finalism w ithou t falling in to th e m ost flagrant naiveties o f the legalism w hich m akes o b ed ien ce to the rule the d eterm in in g

T he fallacies o f the rule



cip le o f all p ractices. O n e cou ld g o back to D u rk h eim and exam in e the

lace at on ce central and em p ty, occu p ied in h is system b y th e notion o f social

c o n s tr a in t.

But it is sufficient to con sid er th e q uite exem plary theoretical

operations w hereby Saussure con stitu tes lin gu istics as a scien ce b y con stru ct ing language as an au ton om ou s ob ject, d istin ct from its actu alization s in
sp eech , in order to bring to ligh t the im p licit p resu p p o sitio n s o f any m ode

of know ledge w h ich treats practices or w orks as sy m b o lic facts, finished

p ro d u cts, to b e deciphered by reference to a cod e (w h ich m ay be called

Finding them selves in a position of theoretical dependence on linguistics, structural ist anthropologists have often involved in their practice the epistemological unconscious engendered by unm indfulness of the acts through w hich linguistics constructed its own object. Heirs to an intellectual heritage which they did not make for them selves, they have too often been satisfied with literal translations of a term inology dissociated from the operations of which it is the product, sparing them selves the effort of an epistemological critique of the conditions and limits of validity of transposing the Saussurian construction. It is notew orthy, for exam ple, that w ith the exception of Sapir, who was predisposed by his dual training as linguist and anthropologist to raise the problem of the relations between culture and language, no anthropologist has tried to bring out all the im plications of the hom ology (w hich Leslie W hite is virtually alone in formulating explicitly) between the two oppositions, that betw een language and speech on the one hand, and on the other hand that betw een culture and conduct or works. When Saussure constitutes language as an autonom ous object, irreducible to its concrete realizations, that is, to the utterances it makes possible, or w hen, by a procedure similar in every respect, Panofsky establishes that what he calls, follow ing Alois Riegl, Kunstuollen - that is to say, roughly,- the objective sense of the work is no more reducible to the " w ill of the artist than it is to the "w ill of the a g e or to the experiences the work arouses in the spectator, they are perform ing an operation with regard to these particular cases w hich can be generalized to all practice. Just as Saussure show s that the true m edium of com m unication betw een two subjects is not discourse, the im mediate datum considered in its observable materiality, but the language, the structure of objective relations making possible both the production and the deciphering of discourse, so Panofsky show s that iconological interpretation treats the sensible properties of the work of art, together with the affective experiences it arouses, as mere *'cultural sy m p to m s, which yield their full m eaning only to a reading armed w ith the cultural cipher the artist has engaged in his work.

Saussure first m akes the p oin t that sp eech appears as th e precondition for language, as m uch from the in dividu al as from the co llectiv e p oin t o f v iew , because language cannot be ap prehended ou tsid e o f sp eech , because language is learnt through sp eech , and because sp eech is the so u rce of in novation s in and transform ations o f language. T h is is so even th o u g h on e m ight invoke the ex isten ce o f dead languages or d u m b n ess in old age as provin g the p ossib ility o f losin g sp eech w h ile con servin g language, and even thou gh language m istakes reveal the language as the ob jective norm o f sp eech (w ere !t otherw ise, every language m istake w ould m od ify th e language and there


T he objective lim its o f objectivism

w ould be no m istakes any m ore). But h e then ob serves that the priority of sp eech over language is p urely ch ron ological and that the relationship is inverted as soon as on e leaves the d om ain o f individual or co llective history in order to in qu ire into the logical conditions for d ecip h erin g. F rom this p oin t o f view , w hich is that of ob jectivism , language is the precond ition for th e in telligibility o f sp eech , b ein g th e m ed iation w h ich en su res the id en tity o f the so u n d -con cep t associations m ade b y th e speakers and so guarantees m utual com p reh en sion . T h u s, in th e logical order o f in telligibility, sp eech is th e p rod u ct o f lan gu age .28 It follo w s that, because it is con stru cted from th e strictly intellectualist stan d p oin t of d ecip h erin g , Saussurian lin g u istics privi leges the structure of sign s, that is, th e relation s b etw een th em , at the ex p en se of th eir practical functions, w hich are never redu cible, as structuralism tacitly assu m es, to fu n ction s of com m u n ication or k now ledge. T h e lim its o f Saussurian ob jectivism are never m ore clearly v isib le than in its in ability to con ceive o f sp eech and m ore generally o f practice other than as execution ,29 w ith in a logic w h ich , th o u g h it d oes not use th e w ord , is that of th e rule to b e ap plied . O b jectivism con stru cts a theory of practice (as execu tio n ) b ut on ly as a negative b y-p rod u ct or, on e m ig h t say, w aste p rod u ct, im m ediately discarded, o f the con stru ction o f the sy stem s of o b je c tive relations. T h u s, w ith th e aim of d elim itin g , w ithin th e b ody o f lin g u istic data, the "terrain o f th e la n g u a g e and o f extracting a " w ell-d efin ed o b je c t , "an ob ject that can be stu d ied se p a r a te ly , " o f h om o g en eo u s n a tu re , Saussu re sets aside " th e physical part of co m m u n ica tio n , that is, sp eech as a preconstructed ob ject, liable to stan d in the w ay o f con stru ctin g th e lan guage; he then isolates w ithin the " sp eech c ir c u it w hat he calls th e "ex ecu tiv e s id e , that is, sp eech as a con stru cted ob ject defined by th e actualization of a certain sen se in a particular com b ination of so u n d s, w hich he finally elim inates on the grou n ds that " execu tion is never the w ork of th e m a ss, b ut "alw ays in d iv id u a l . T h u s the sam e co n cep t, sp eech , is d iv id ed by theoretical con stru ction into an im m ed iately observable preconstructed datu m , p recisely that against w hich th e operation of theoretical con stru ction is carried ou t, and a constructed object, the negative p rod uct o f the operation w h ich con stitu tes the language as su c h , or rather, wr hich produces b oth ob jects by p rod ucing th e relation o f o p p o sitio n w ith in w h ich and b y wr ich h th ey are d efined. It w ou ld not be difficult to sh ow that th e con stru ction o f th e con cep t of culture (in the cultural an th rop ology sense) or social structure (in RadclifTe-Browns sen se and that o f social anthropology) sim ilarly im p lies th e con stru ction of a n otion o f co n d u ct as execu tion w'hich coexists w ith th e prim ary notion of con d u ct as sim p le behaviour taken at face value. T h e extrem e con fu sion of debates on the relation ship b etw een " cu ltu re (or " social stru ctu r es) and con d u ct generally arises from the fact that the con stru cted

T h e fallacies o f the rule


m eaning of con d u ct and the theory of practice it im plies lead a sort 0f underground existen ce in the discou rse o f both th e d efen d ers and the opponents of cultural a n th rop ology .30 O bjectivism is th u s protected by the im plicit state in w h ich its theory of practice rem ains against the only decisive ch allen ge, the o n e w hich w ou ld attack p recisely that th eory, the source of all th e m etaph ysical aberrations on "the locus of c u ltu r e , the m ode of existen ce o f the " str u c tu re, or the u n con sciou s finality of the history of system s, not to m en tion the all-too-fam ous " co llectiv e con sciousness . It is indeed " on th e ex ecu tiv e s id e , as Saussure puts it, that on e finds the
essen tial w eakness of the Saussurian m odel and o f all the th eories w h ich ,

som etim es under new n am es, accept the fundam ental p resu p p o sitio n s o f its theoretical con stru ction . C red itin g the sp eak ing subject w ith a potentially
in finite generative cap acity m erely p ostp on es the Saussurian d ifficulty: the

power of innovation requ ired in order to generate an in finite n um ber of sentences in no w ay im p lies th e pow er o f adaptation that is required in order to make relevant use of th o se sen ten ces in con stantly ch an gin g situ ation s. H ence the lin g u ists lon gstan d in g stru ggle to overcom e the d ifficulties to w hich th e Saussurian con stru ction w as con d em n ed from the very b eg in n in g , inasm uch as th e o n ly w ay it co u ld con stitu te the structural properties of the m essage w as (sim p ly b y p ositin g an indifferent sender and receiver) to neglect th e functional properties the m essage derives from its use in a determ inate situ ation and, m ore p recisely, in a socially structured interaction.
As soon as one m oves from the structure of language to the functions it fulfils, that is, to the uses agents actually make of it, one sees that mere know ledge of the code gives only very im perfect m astery of the linguistic interactions really taking place. As Luis Prieto observes, the m eaning of a linguistic elem ent depends at least as much on extra-linguistic as on linguistic factors, that is to say, on the context and situation in which it is used. E verything takes place as if, from am ong the class of "sign ified s abstractly corresponding to a speech sound, the receiver " selected the one which seems to him to be com patible with the circum stances as he perceives th em .31 T h u s reception depends to a large degree on the objective structure of the relations betw een the interacting agents objective positions in the social structure (e .g . relations of com petition or objective antagonism , or relations of power and authority, e tc .), which governs the form and content of the interactions observed in a particular conjuncture. Bally show s how the very content of the com m unication, the nature of the language and all the forms of expression used (posture, gesture, mimickrv, e tc .) and above all, perhaps, their style, are affected by the structure of the social relation betw een the agents involved and, m ore precisely, by the structure of their relative positions *n the hierarchies of age, pow er, prestige, and culture: "W hen I talk to som eone, or talk about him , I cannot help visualizing the particular type of relationship (casual, formal, obligatory, official) betw een that person and m yself ; involuntarily 1 think not nly of his possible action towards m yself, but also of his age, sex, rank, and social


T h e objective lim its o f objectivism

background; all these considerations may affect my choice of expressions and lead me to avoid what might discourage, offend, or hurt. If need be, my language becomes reserved an d prudent; it becom es indirect and euphem istic, it slides over the surface instead of in sistin g.* Hence com m unication is possible in practice only when accom 32 panied by a practical spotting of cues w hich, in enabling speakers to situate others in the hierarchies of age, wealth, power, or culture, guides them unw ittingly towards the type of exchange best suited in form and content to the objective situation between the interacting individuals. T h is is seen clearly in bilingual situations, in w hich the speakers adopt cne or the other of the two available languages according to the circum stances, the subject of conversation, the social status of their interlocuter (and thus his degree of culture and bilingualism ), etc. T h e whole content of the com m unication (and not just the language used) is unconsciously modified by the structure of the relationship between the speakers. T he pressure of the socially qualified objective situation is such that, through the mediation of bodily mim esis, a whole way of speaking, a type of joke, a particular tone, som etim es even an accent, seem to be objectively called for by certain situations, and, conversely, quite excluded from others, whatever efforts are made to introduce them . But the linguists and anthropologists w ho appeal to " co n tex t n r " situ ation in order, as it were, to "correct what strikes them as unreal and abstract in the structuralist model are in fact still trapped in the logic of the theoretical model which they are rightly trying to supersede. T he m ethod known as situational analysis,33 which consists of "observing people in a variety of social situ ation s in order to determ ine "the way in which individuals are able to exercise choices within the lim its of a specified social structure,34 remains locked within the framework of the rule and the exception, which Leach (often invoked by the exponents of "situational analysis) spells out clearly: "I postulate that structural system s in which all avenues of social action are narrowly institutionalized are im possible. In all viable system s, there must be an area where the individual is free to make choices so as to manipulate the system to his advantage.35 In accepting as obligatory alternatives the m odel and the situation, the structure and the individual variations, one condem ns oneself simply to take the diametrically opposite course to the structuralist abstraction which subsum es variations - regarded as sim ple variants - into the structure. T h e desire to "integrate variations, exceptions and accidents into descriptions of regularities and to show " how individuals in a particular structure handle the choices with which they are faced as individuals are in all so cieties36 - leads one to regress to the pre-structuralist stage of the individual and his choices, and to miss the very principle of the structuralist error.37

N o t the least of C hom sky's m erits is to have reopened d iscu ssion on the d istinction betw een syntax and sem an tics (and secondarily, b etw een syntax and pragm atics) and, m ore p recisely, on the dep en dence or in d ep en d en ce of th ese different levels o f discou rse relative to the situ ation , by affirm ing the in d ep en d en ce of th e structural properties o f linguistic exp ression s relative to their uses and fu n ction s and the im p ossib ility of m aking any inference from analysis of their form al structure - a p osition w hich has sim p ly adopted exp licitly the p ostu lates im plied in th e Saussurian lan guage/sp eech distinction. In short, failing to con stru ct practice other than n egatively, ob jectivism is con d em ned either to ignore the w h ole question o f th e principle u nd erlyin g

T h e fallacies o f the rule


the p ro d u ctio n o f the r e g u la r itie s w hich it then con ten ts itself w ith recording; to reify abstractions, by th e fallacy of treating the ob jects constructed by s c i e n c e , w hether " c u ltu r e , " structures , or "m od es of production , as realities en d ow ed w ith a social efficacy, capable o f actin g as agents responsible for historical actions or as a power capable of con strain in g p ra ctices; or to save appearances by m eans of con cep ts as am bigu ous as the notions of the ruie or the u n con sciou s, w h ich make it p ossib le to avoid ch oosin g betw een incom patible theories o f practice. T h u s L evi-S trau ss s use o f the notion of the unconscious m asks th e contradictions generated b y the im plicit theory o f practice w hich "structural a n th rop ology accep ts at least by d efau lt, restoring the old en telech ies of the m etaphysics o f nature in th e apparently secularized form of a structure structured in the absence of any stru cturin g p rin cip le .38

When one is reluctant to follow D urkh eim in p ositin g that none of the rules
constraining su bjects "can b e found en tirely reproduced in the applications made o f them b y in dividu als, since they can exist even w ithou t b ein g actually a p p lied ,39 and u n w illin g to ascribe to th ese rules th e tran scend en t, perm anent existen ce h e ascribes (as S aussu re d oes to language) to all collective " realities, the only w ay to escape the crudest naivities o f the legalism w hich sees practices as the p rod uct of o b ed ien ce to the rules is to play on the p olysem ous nature of the w ord rule: m ost often u sed in th e sen se of a social norm expressly stated and explicitly recogn ized , like m oral or juridical law , som etim es in the sen se o f a theoretical model, a con stru ct d ev ised b y scien ce in order to accoun t for practices, the w ord is also, m ore rarely, used in the sense o f a scheme (or p rin cip le) im m anent in practice, w h ich sh ou ld be called im plicit rather than u n con sciou s, sim p ly to indicate that it exists in a practical state in agents' practice and not in their con sciou sn ess, or rather, their discou rse .4 0 Clearly a case in point is C hom sky, w h o h old s, sim u ltan eou sly, that the rules of gram m ar are in scrib ed in n euro-physiological m ech a n ism s ,41 that they are system s o f norm s of w hich agents have a certain aw areness, and lastly that they are in stru m en ts for description o f language. But it is also instructive to reread a paragraph from L evi-Strau sss preface to th e secon d edition of L es structures elementaires de la parente (E lem entary Structures o f K in sh ip) , in w h ich one m ay assu m e that particular care has b een taken w ith the vocabulary of norm s, m od els, or rules, sin ce th e passage deals w ith the d istin ction b etw een preferential sy s te m s and "prescriptive sy s te m s : " C on versely, a system which recommends m arriage w ith the m oth ers brothers daughter m ay be called p rescriptive even if the rule is seld om ob served , sin ce w hat it says m ust be d one. T h e q u estion of h ow far and in w hat proportion the m em bers of a given so ciety respect the norm is very interesting, but a d ifferen t q u estion to that of w here th is society sh ou ld properly be placed in a typ o lo g y . It is sufficient


T h e objective lim its o f objectivism

to ack n ow led ge the lik elih ood that awareness of the rule in flects choices ever so little in the prescribed d irection , and that the percentage of conventional m arriages is higher than w ou ld be the case if m arriages w ere m ade at random, to be able to recogn ize w hat m igh t be called a m atrilateral *operator at work in th is so c iety and actin g as a p ilot: certain alliances at least fo llo w th e path w h ich it charts out for th e m , and th is suffices to im print a sp ecific curve in the gen ealogical space. N o d ou b t there w ill be not just on e cu rve but a great n um ber o f local cu rves, m erely in cip ien t for th e m ost part, h ow ever, and form in g closed cycles o n ly in rare and excep tion al cases. But the structural ou tlin es w h ich em erge h ere and there w ill be en ou gh for the sy stem to b t used in m aking a p rob abilistic version o f m ore rigid sy stem s the notion o f w hich is com p letely theoretical and in w hich m arriage w ou ld con form rigorously to a n y rule the social group pleases to enunciate 42 T h e d om in an t ton ality in th is passage, as in the w h ole p reface, is that of th e norm, w hereas S tructu ral A nthropology is w ritten in the language of the model or, if you like, th e structure; n ot that su ch term s are en tirely ab sen t here, sin ce th e m ath em atical-p hysical m etaph ors organ izin g th e central passage (" o p erator , " c u r v e in "genealogical s p a c e , " str u c tu re s) evok e the logic o f th e th eoretical m od el and of the eq u ivalen ce, at on ce declared and repudia ted , o f th e model and the norm : " A preferential sy stem is p rescriptive w hen en visaged at th e m odel lev el, a p rescriptive system m ust b e preferential w hen en visaged on th e level of reality .43 B ut for the reader w h o rem em bers the passages in S tructu ral A n thropology on th e relation ship b etw een language and kinship (e .g . '" K in sh ip sy s te m s , like 'p h o n em ic sy s te m s , are b uilt up by the m ind on the level o f u n c o n scio u s th o u g h t )4 and th e im perious way in 4 w hich "cultural n o rm s and all the " ration aliza tio n s or "secon d ary argu m e n ts p roduced b y the n atives w ere rejected in favour of th e " u n co n scio u s stru ctu r es , not to m en tion passages assertin g th e u niversality o f th e fun da m ental rule of exo gam y, th e co n cession s m ade here to "aw areness o f the r u le and the d issociation from rigid system s " th e n otion of w hich is entirely th e o re tic a l' m ay com e as a surprise, as m ay th is further passage from the sam e preface: " I t is n on eth eless true that th e em pirical reality o f so-called p rescriptive system s o n ly takes on its full m ean in g w hen related to a theoretical m odel w orked out b y the natives themselves prior to e th n o lo g ists ,45 or again: " T h o se w h o practise th em know fu lly that th e spirit of su ch system s cannot be redu ced to the tautological prop osition that each grou p ob tain s its w om en from 'g iv e r s and gives its daughters to 'ta k e rs. T h ey are also a w a re that m arriage w ith th e m atrilateral cross co u sin (m o th ers b roth ers daughter) p rovid es th e sim p lest illustration of th e rate, th e form m o st likely to guarantee its su rv iv a l. O n the other h and , m arriage w ith the patrilateral cross cou sin (fathers sisters daughter) w ould violate it irrevocab ly .4 6

T h e fallacies o f the rule


tem ptin g to q uote in reply a passage in w h ich W ittgenstein effortlessly 1S together all the q u estio n s evad ed by structural an th rop ology and no k ^ v T m o r e generally b y all in tellectu alism , w h ich transfers the ob jective truth blished by scien ce in to a practice w h ich b y its very essen ce ru les o u t the C S tical stance w h ich m akes it p ossib le to estab lish that tr u th :47 " W'hat do I call the rule by w hich he p r o c e e d s? - T h e h yp o th esis that satisfactorily describes his use of w ords, w h ich w e ob serve: or th e rule w h ich h e looks up vhen he uses sign s; or the on e w h ich he g ives u s in reply w hen w e ask w hat his rule is? - But w hat if ob servation d oes not enable us to see any clear rule, and the question brings n on e to l i g h t ? - F o r he d id in deed g ive m e a definition w hen I asked h im w hat he u n d erstood b y ' N*, but he w as prepared to withdraw and alter it. S o h ow am I to d eterm in e the rule accord in g to w h ich he is playing? H e d oes not know it h im self. - O r, to ask a b etter q u estion : What m eaning is th e exp ression 'th e rule b y wr ich he p ro ce ed s su p p o sed h to have left to it h e r e ?4 8 T o consider regularity, that is, w hat recurs w ith a certain statistically m easurable frequency, as th e p rod u ct of a con scio u sly laid -dow n and co n s ciously respected ruling (w h ich im p lies exp lain in g its g en esis and efficacy), or as the product of an u n co n scio u s regulating by a m ysteriou s cerebral and/or social m echan ism , is to slip from th e m od el of reality to the reality of the m odel .4 "C on sid er the d ifferen ce b etw een sayin g 'T h e train is regularly tw o 9 m inutes la te and 'A s a rule, the train is tw o m in u tes la te . . .th er e is the suggestion in th e latter case that that th e train be tw o m in u tes late is as it were in accordance w ith som e p olicy or p l a n . . . R ules co n n ect w ith plans or policies in a w ay that regularities d o n o t . . .T o argue t h a t . . .th er e m ust be rules in the natural language is like argu in g that roads m ust be red if th ey correspond to red lin es on a m a p .50 In on e case - to take up Q u in es distinction b etw een fittin g and guiding - o n e form ulates a rule w h ich fits the observed regularity in a purely d escrip tive w ay; in the other case on e states a rule w hich g u id es th e behaviour and w h ich can d o so o n ly to the extent that it is know n and recogn ized (and h en ce cou ld b e sta ted ).51 O n e is en titled to p osit an " im p licit g u id a n c e , as, accord in g to Q u in e, C hom sk y d o es, in order to accoun t for a practice ob jectively govern ed b y rules u n k now n to the agents; but on ly o n con d ition that on e d oes not m ask the q u estio n o f the m echanism s p rod u cin g th is con form ity in the ab sen ce of the in ten tio n to conform , by resortin g to the fallacy o f th e rule w h ich im p licitly p laces in the con sciousness o f the in dividu al agen ts a k n ow led ge b u ilt u p against that experience, i.e . con fers th e value o f an an th rop ological d escrip tion on the theoretical m od el con stru cted in order to accou n t for practices. T h e theory of action as m ere execution o f th e m o d el (in the tw ofold sen se o f norm and scientific con stru ct) is just on e exam p le am ong oth ers o f th e im aginary

T he objective lim its o f objectivism

an th rop ology w h ich o b jectivism en gen d ers w h en , w ith the aid of w ords that obscure the d istin ction b etw een " th e th in g s of lo g ic and the logic o f th in g s!) it p resen ts th e ob jective m ean in g o f p ractices or w orks as the subjective p urpose o f th e action of the producers o f th ose practices or w orks, w ith \\^ im p ossib le homo economicus su b jectin g h is d ecisio n -m a k in g to ration*; calcu lation, its actors p erform in g roles or actin g in co n fo rm ity w ith m odels or its sp eak ers " s e le c tin g from a m on g p h on em es.

S E C T I O N I I : CASE S T U D Y : P A R A L L E L - C O U S I N MARRI AGE " P h ilosop h y aim s at the logical clarification o f t h o u g h t s . . . W ithou t philo sop h y th o u g h ts are, as it w ere, clou d y and in d istin ct: its task is to m ake them clear and g ive th em sharp b o u n d aries .52 In th is sen se, the fo reg o in g analyses m ay be said to b elon g to p h ilosop h y. B ut u nlike p h ilo so p h ica l activity as W ittgen stein con ceiv es it, they do not ach ieve their en d in "th e clarification o f p r o p o sitio n s. A rising in resp onse to scien tific d ifficu lties and not to the reading o f tex ts, th ey are in ten d ed to h elp su rm oun t d ifficu lties, b y providing not on ly p rocedu res for research b u t also p roced u res for valid ation , means of d ecid in g b etw e en com p etin g accoun ts o f the sam e practices. T h e case of m arriage - stru cturalist grou n d par ex cellen ce - and o f p arallel-cou sin mar riage - a sort of q u asi-in cest ch allen gin g b oth the u n ilin ea l-d escen t theories and th e m arriage-alliance th eory - co n stitu tes an ideal terrain for such a tru th -test .53 M arriage w ith a patrilateral parallel cou sin (bent'am m , fath ers b rothers d augh ter )54 appears as a sort of scandal, in C laude L e v i-S tra u sss ter m s ,55 only to those w h o have internalized th e categories o f th o u g h t w h ich it disturbs. In ch a llen g in g th e idea of exogam y, th e p recon d ition for th e co n tin u a tio n of separate lin eages and for the perm an en ce and easy id en tifica tio n o f con secu tive u n its, it ch allen ges the w h ole n otion of u nilineal d escen t as w ell as the theory of m arriage as an exch an ge o f on e w om an against an oth er, w h ich assu m es an in cest taboo, i.e . the ab solu te n ecessity o f ex ch a n g e. A n ex o gam ic system clearly d iv id es alliance grou p s and d escen t g ro u p s, w h ich by definition cannot c o in c id e , gen ealogical lin eages b ein g b y the sam e token clearly defined, sin ce p o w ers, privileges, and d u ties are tran sm itted eith er m atrilineally or patrilineally. E n d ogam y, by contrast, resu lts in a b lu rrin g of the d istinction b etw een lin eages. T h u s , in the extrem e case of a sy stem actually fou n d ed on p arallel-cou sin m arriage, a particular in dividu al co u ld be related to his paternal grandfather eq u ally through his father or h is m o th er. But on th e other hand, b y ch o o sin g to keep the parallel co u sin , a q u a si-sister, w ith in the lineage, the grou p w o u ld d ep rive itself o f an o p p o r tu n ity to receive a w om an from ou tsid e and o f th u s con tractin g n ew alliances. Is it sufficient to regard

T he objective lim its o f objectivism


of m arriage as th e excep tion (or the " a b erra tio n ) w h ich proves |ile or to rearrange th e categories o f th ou gh t w h ich m ake it p o ssib le in ^

" t o find a place ( i.e . a nam e) for it? Or sh o u ld w e radically q u estio n

c a te g o r ie s


th ou gh t

w h ich


p rod u ced


" u n th in k a b le

^ T h e c o n t r a d i c t i o n p osed b y Arab and Berber trad ition s to cu rren tly avail

able th eo ries has at least th e m erit of rem in d in g us th a t, as L o u is D u m o n t says th e th e o r y of u nilineal d escen t g rou p s and th e allian ce theory o f m arriage rem ain " reg io n a l th e o r ie s in the geographical and a lso the ep istem o lo g ica l sen se, e v en th o u g h they wear the cloak o f u n iv e rsa lity .56 N eith er can th e critical e x a m in a tio n of certain of the bases o f th ese th eo ries, w h ich is e n cou raged or e v e n im p osed b y the particular ch aracteristics of a cultural trad ition , c la im to be universal. But su ch a critical exam in ation m ay con trib ute to progress tow ards a theory free from all geograph ical or ep istem ological regionalism by p o sin g u niversal q u estio n s w h ich are raised w ith particular in sisten ce b y the pecu liarities o f certain ob jects. F o r exam p le, it is not su fficient to con clu d e that, w h ile valid in the case o f an ex ogam ic tradition w h ich str ic tly d istin gu ish es b etw een parallel and cro ss k in, the idea o f a p referential m arriage is not justified in the case of a so c iety w ith ou t exogam ou s g ro u p s. W e m ust find in this ex cep tion a reason for q u e stio n in g not o n ly th e very n o tio n of p rescription or p referen ce, b u t also on th e on e h and, the notion o f the g e n e a lo g ic a lly defined grou p , an en tity w h o se social id en tity is as in variab le a n d u niform as the criteria for its d elim itatio n and w h ich con fers

on each o f its m em bers a social id en tity eq u ally d istin ct and p erm an en tly fix e d :
and o n the other hand, the n otion o f rules and rule-governed behaviour in the tw o fo ld s e n s e of b eh aviour con form in g ob jectively to rules and d eterm in ed bv o b e d ie n c e to rules.

T h e inadequacy o f th e language of p rescription an d rules is so clear in the case of patrilateral m arriage that w e cannot fail to be rem in d ed of R odn ey N eedham 's in qu iries in to the co n d itio n s o f v a lid ity, perhaps n ever fu lfilled , of such a lan guage, w h ich is in fact n oth in g other than legal la n g u a g e .57 But this q u estio n in g of the ep istem ological status of co n ce p ts as co m m o n ly and as w id ely u sed as th ose o f rule, p rescription , and p referen ce, in evitab ly challenges the theory o f practice w h ich th ey p resu p p ose: can w e , even im plicitly, treat th e "algebra o f k in sh ip , as M alinow sk i called it, as a theory
f the practical u ses o f kinship and of " p ra ctica l k in sh ip w ith o u t tacitly

postulating a d ed u ctive relationship b etw een k in sh ip term in o lo g y and " kin ship a ttitu d e s ? A nd can w e g ive an an th rop ological m ean in g to th is relation ship w ith o u t p ostu latin g that regulated and regular relatio n sh ip s b etw een kin are the resu lts of o b ed ien ce to a set of rules w h ich , althou gh a residual D urkh eim ian scru p le m akes R adcliffe-B row n call th e m " ju ra l rather than


T h e objective limits o f objectivism

legal are assu m ed to con trol b eh aviour in the sam e w ay as legal ru les?** F in a lly , can w e m ake th e gen ealogical d efin ition of gro u p s th e o n ly means o f d ifferen tiatin g b etw een social u n its and of a ssign in g agen ts to th e se group 8 w ith o u t im p licitly p ostu la tin g that th e agen ts are d efined in every respect and for all tim e by their b elo n g in g to the g rou p , and th a t, in sh o rt, die group d efin es th e agen ts and th eir in terests m ore th an th e agen ts d efine groups in term s of their interests?

T h e state o f the question

T h e m ost recent theories of parallel-cousin marriage, those of Fredrik Barth59 and of Robert M urphy and Leonard K asdan,60 though diam etrically opposed, do have in com m on the fact that they appeal to those functions w hich structuralism either ignores or brackets off, w hether econom ic functions, such as the retention of the patrimony w ithin the lineage, or political functions, such as the reinforcem ent of lineage inte gration. It is difficult to see how they could do otherw ise w ithout making absurd a marriage w hich obviously does not fulfil the function of exchange and alliance com m only attributed to cross-cousin marriage.61 Barth em phasizes that endogamous marriage " plays a prom inent role in solidifying the minim al lineage as a corporate group in factional stru g g le. By contrast, M urphy and Kasdan criticize Barth for explaining the institution "through reference to the consciously felt goals o f the individual role p layers*, or more precisely by reference to the lineage h e a d s interest in keeping a close control over his nephew s, who represent points of potential segm entation. Thus M urphy and Kasdan relate this type o f marriage to its "structural fu n ctio n , that is, to the fact that it "contributes to the extrem e fission of agnatic lin es. . .a n d , through in-marriage, encysts the patrilineal seg m en ts. L evi-Strauss is perfectly justified in stating that the twT op p osin g positions amount to exactly the sam e thing: in fact o Barths theory makes o f th is type o f marriage a means o f reinforcing lineage unity and of lim iting the tendency to fission; M urphys theory sees in it the principle of a quest for integration into larger units, founded on the appeal to a common origin, and ultim ately encom passing all Arabs. So both adm it that parallel-cousin marriage cannot be explained w ithin the pure logic of the matrimonial exchange system and that any explanation must refer to external econom ic or political fu n ction s.62 C uisenier sim ply draws o u t the consequences o f this observation, in a construction w hich attem pts to account for the inconsistencies noted by all observers betw een the m o d el and actual practice, together with at least the econom ic external functions of matrimonial exchanges. " It is native thinking itself w hich gives us a clue to an explanatory m odel. T h is m odel represents in effect alliances knit together in one group based on the fundam ental opposition o f tw o brothers, of w hom one m ust marry endogam ously in order to m aintain the coherence of the group, and the other must marry exogam ously in order to gain alliances for the group. T h is opposition between the tw o brothers is found at all levels of the agnatic group; it expresses in the usual genealogical term inology of Arab thought a choice betw een alternatives w hich may be represented as a 'partial ord er diagram in w hich the num erical values of a and 6 are and % respectively. If a represents the choice of endogam y and b the choice of exogam y, and if one follow s the branchings of the two-part fam ily tree from the roots upwards, the choice of a at the m ost superficial genealogical levels is the choice of the parallel cousin (Vs of the c a ses).63 One m ight be tem pted to see it as a virtue

The functions o f kinship: official kin and p ra ctica l kin



that it seeks to account for the statistical data in contrast to traditional ercntjaj marriage w hich w ent no further than to state the divergence t h e o r ie s "norm (or the " r u le ) and actual practice.64 But one only has to adopt b e tw e e n restrictive definition of the marriages assim ilable to parallel-cousin a m re to move away, to a greater or lesser extent, from the magical percentage V?) w hich, w hen com bined with a native m axim , generates a "theoretical ^ a V'- and then there is no need to appeal to an epistem ological critique to show 010 t h e model fits the facts so perfectly only because it has been made to measure to fM he facts, i.e. invented ad hoc to account for a statistical artefact, and not built up from a theory of the principles of the production of practices. T h ere is an equation for the c u r v e of each face, said L eibniz. A nd nowadays there w ill always be a m athe m a tic ia n to prove that tw o cousins parallel to a third are parallel to each o t h e r .. . But the intention of subm itting genealogies to statistical analysis has at least the virtue of revealing the m ost fundam ental properties of the genealogy, an analytical tool which is never itself analysed. W e can im m ediately see what is strange about the idea of calculating rates of endogam y wr hen, as here, it is the very notion of the endogamous group, and therefore the basis o f calculation, which is in q uestion.65 Are w e to be satisfied with abstractly dissecting genealogies wr hich have the sam e extent as the group memory, whose structure and extent depend on the functions actually given by the group to those whom it rem em bers or forgets ? R ecognizing in a lineage diagram an ideological representation resorted to by the Bedouin in order to achieve a "primary comprehension of their present relationships, E. L . Peters66 points out that the genealogy ignores the real power relations between genealogical segm ents, that it forgets about the w om en, and that it treats as "contingent a ccid en ts the most basic ecclogical, dem ographic, and political factors.67 M ust w e then resort to the units which the agents them selves recognize, using criteria w hich are not necessarily genealogical ? We discover, however, that an individuals chances of making a marriage w hich can be treated as a marriage w ith the daughter of his r amm are greater to the extent that his practical, effectively m obilizable lineage (as well as the num ber of potential partners) is larger, and the pressures on him to marry inside the lineage are stronger. Once the family property is divided and there is nothing to recall and maintain the genealogical relationship, the fathers brothers daughter may be considered no closer in degree of kinship than any other patrilateral (or even matrilateral) cousin. On the other hand, a genealogically more distant cousin m ay be the practical equivalent of the bent'amm w hen the tw o cousins are part of a strongly united '*h o u se living under one elder and ow n ing all its property in com m on. And perhaps inform ants are simply victim s of an illusion created by the decline of the great undivided fam ilies, when they repeat with insistence that people now marry less w ithin the lineage than they did formerly. 0f this mo

T h e functions o f kinship: official kin and practical kin It is not su fficien t to fo llo w the exam p le o f the m ore circu m sp ect fieldw orkers, p ru dently slip from the n otion of preferential m arriage w ith a parallel cousin to the n otion o f " lin eage en d ogam y , tru stin g that th is va g u e, h igh sounding lan guage w ill offer a w ay ou t o f th e problem s raised b y th e n otion f en d ogam y and con cealed b y the all-too-fam iliar con cep t o f th e group. It first n ecessary to ask w hat is im plied in d efining a grou p by th e genealogical relationship lin k in g its m em b ers, and in thereby im p licitly treatin g kinship


T h e objective lim its o f objectivism

as th e necessary and su fficien t con d ition of grou p u n ity . A s soon as we ex p licitly about th e functions of kin relation ship s, or m ore b lu n tly , about t}* u sefu ln ess of k in sm en , a q u estio n w hich k insh ip th eo rists prefer to treat ^ resolved , w e cannot fail to n otice that th o se u ses o f k in sh ip w h ich may ^ called genealogical are reserved for official situ a tio n s in w h ich they ^ th e fu n ctio n of ord erin g th e social w orld and o f leg itim a tin g that order .6 jn 8 th is resp ect th ey differ from th e other kinds o f practical use m ade of kir j relation sh ip s, w hich are a particular case o f the u tilization o f connections. The g en ealogical diagram o f kin relation ship s w hich th e an th rop ologist constructs m erely reprodu ces th e official representation o f th e social stru ctures, a repre. sentation p rod uced b y ap p lication of the stru cturin g prin cip le that is dominant in a certain respect; i.e . in certain situ ation s and w ith a v iew to certain fu n ction s.
Marriage provides a good opportunity for observing what in practice separates official kinship, single and im m utable, defined once and for all by the norm s o f genealogical protocol, from practical kinship, w hose boundaries and definitions are as many and as varied as its users and the occasions on w hich it is used. It is practical kin who make marriages; it is official kin w ho celebrate them . In ordinary marriages the contacts preceding the official proposal (akhiab) and the least avowable negotiations relating to areas w hich the official ideology tends to ignore, such as the economic conditions of the marriage, the status offered to the wife in her husbands home, relations with the husbands m other, and similar m atters, are left to the persons least qualified to represent the group and to speak for it (w ho can therefore be disowned if need b e), such as an old w om an, usually a sort of professional in these secret m eetings, a m idw ife, or som e other woman used to m oving from village to village. In the difficult negotiations betw een distant groups a w ell-know n, prestigious man from a group sufficiently distant and distinct from the "w ife-takers to appear neutral and to be in a position to act in com plicity with another man occupying approximately the sam e position in relation to the w ife-givers (a friend or ally rather than a kinsman) w ill be entrusted w ith the delivery of the declaration of intent (assiw at w a w a l). He will avoid com ing straight to the point, but w ill try to find an opportunity to meet som eone from "the girls s id e and to disclose to him the " in ten tio n s of the interested fam ily. T h e official marriage proposal (akhtab) is presented by the least responsible of those responsible, i.e. the elder brother and not the father, the paternal uncle and not the grandfather, etc., accom panied, especially if he is young, by a kinsman from another line. T h e m en w h o present the request may be, for example, on the first occasion, an elder brother and a maternal uncle, then on the second occasion a paternal uncle and one of the notables o f the group, then the third time the sam e people accom panied by several group and village notables such as the taleb, to be joined later by the village marabouts, and the fourth tim e the father together with notables from the neighbouring village and even the next tribe, etc. So progressi vely closer and more distinguished relatives of the bridegroom com e to present their request ( ahallal) to m en in the brides family w h o genealogically and spatially are increasingly distant. In the end it is the most im portant and m ost distant of the girl's kin w ho com e to intercede w ith the girls father and mother on behalf of the closest and m ost prestigious of the young m ans kin, having been asked to do so by this latter group. Finally, acceptance (aqbal) is proclaimed before the largest possible number

T h e functions o f k in sh ip : official km and practical kin


ved to the most em inent kinsman of the young man by the most 0f men and conv ^ kinsm en, w ho has been asked to support the proposal. As eminent of t ^ an(j begin to look successful, official kin may w ell take the place negotiations pr ^ hierarchy with respect to utility being alm ost the exact opposite 0f practica * reSpect to genealogical legitim acy. T here are various reasons of the hierarL ^ ^ ^ advisable to " c o m m it in the early stages kin w h o because of for this, r i social position m ight com prom ise their principals too dpeplv the^ gene2 ^ sjtuation of conjunctural inferiority, w hich is often associated w ith particu^j s^perjorjty (because the man is marrying beneath h im ). Secondly, not structur ^ asked to put him self in the position of a supplicant liable to receive eVe?usa^ and a fortiori to take part in negotiations w hich w ill bring no glory, w hich 3 ^often*painful, and som etim es bring dishonour on the tw o parties (like the practice thaj'alts which consists of paying m oney to secure the intervention of som e o f the *soective brides kin). Finally, the search for maximum efficiency in the practical hase of negotiations directs the choice towards persons know n to com m and great skill, to enjoy particular authority over the fam ily in question, or to be on good term s with someone in a position to influence the d ecision . And it is natural that, in the official phase, those who have actually " m a d e the marriage should have to make do with the place assigned to them not by their usefulness but by their position in the genealogy; having played their parts as "utility m e n , they m ust make way for the "leading actors.

T h u s, to schem atize, official kinship is op p osed to practical k insh ip in term s of the official as op p osed to th e non-official (w h ich in clu d es the unofficial and the scand alous); the co llectiv e as o p p o sed to th e in d ivid u al; th e p u b lic, explicitly codified in a m agical or quasi-juridical form alism , as o p p o sed to the private, kept in an im p licit, ev en h id d en state; co llectiv e ritual, su b jectless practice, am enable to perform an ce b y agen ts interchangeable b ecau se co llec tively m andated, as op p osed to strategy, directed tow ards the sa tisfa ctio n o f the practical in terests of an in d ivid u al or grou p of in d ivid u a ls. A bstract u nits produced by sim p le theoretical d iv isio n , su ch as, here, th e u nilineal d escen t group (or elsew h ere, age-group s) are available for all fu n ctio n s, that is, for no sin gle on e in particular, and have practical ex isten ce o n ly for th e m ost official uses of k in sh ip ; representational kinship is n o th in g other than the group s self-rep resen tation and th e alm ost theatrical p resen tation it g iv e s of itself w h en actin g in accord ance w ith that self-im age. B y con trast, practical groups exist o n ly through and for th e particular fu n ctio n s in p ursuan ce of v^hich they have b een effectively m ob ilized ; and th e y co n tin u e to exist only because th ey have b een kept in w ork in g order b y th eir very u se an d by M aintenance w ork (in c lu d in g th e m atrim onial exch an ges th ey m ake p o ssib le) and b ecause they rest on a co m m u n ity o f d isp o sitio n s (h a b itu s) and interests u-hich is also th e b asis o f u n d ivid ed o w n ersh ip o f th e m aterial and sy m b o lic patrim ony. T o treat kin relation sh ip s as so m eth in g people make, and w ith w h ich they do so m eth in g, is not m erely to su b stitu te a " fu n ction alist for a " stru cturalist interpretation, as current ta xon om ies m ig h t lead on e to b eliev e; it is radically


T h e objective lim its o f objectivism

to question the im p licit th eory of practice w hich causes the anthropological tradition to see kin relation ship s " in the form of an object or an intuition as Marx p u ts it, rather than in the form o f the practices w h ich produce, reproduce, and use them b y reference to necessarily practical fu n ctio n s. The sam e is tru e, a fo rtio ri, o f affinal relation sh ip s: it is o n ly w hen on e records th ese relation ship s as a fa it accom pli, po st festum , as th e anthropologist does w h en he draw s u p a gen ealogy, that on e can forget that they are the product of strategies (con sciou s or u n con sciou s) oriented tow ards the satisfaction of m aterial and sy m b o lic in terests and organized by reference to a determ inate set of eco n o m ic and social con d itio n s. O n ce on e forgets all that is im plied in extracting from the product the p rin cip les of its p rod uction , from th e opus operatum the modus operandi, on e con d em n s o n eself to proceed as if the regular p rod u ct had b een p rod uced in accordance w ith the ru le s .6 9
T h e com petition and conflicts provoked by the transmission of first names provide an opportunity to observe the practical and political functions of these genealogical markers: to appropriate these indices of genealogical position (so-and-so, son of so-and-so, son of so-and-so etc.) w hich are also emblems, sym bolizing the whole sym bolic capital accum ulated by a lineage, is in a sense to take possession o f a title giving special rights over the groups patrimony. T h e state of the relations of force and authority between contem porary kin determ ines what the collective history will be; but this sym bolic projection of the power relations between com peting individuals and groups also plays a part in reinforcing the initial state of affairs by giving those w ho are in a dom inant position the right to profess the veneration of the past which is best suited to legitim ate their present interests. T o give a new-born child the name o f a great forefather is not sim ply to perform an act o f filial piety, but also in a sense to predestine the child thus named to bring the eponym ous ancestor "back to life ( isakrad djedi-s "he has brought his grandfather 'back to life ), i.e. to succeed him in his responsibilities and p ow ers.70 Prestigious first nam es, like the noblest lands, are the object of regulated com peti tion, and the " righ t to appropriate the first name which is most coveted, because it continuously proclaims the genealogical connection w ith the ancestor w hose name is preserved by the group and outside the group, is distributed in accordance with a hierarchy analogous to that governing the obligations of honour in the case of revenge, or of the rights to land belonging to the patrimony in the case of sale. T h u s, since first names are transmitted in direct patrilineal line, the father cannot give a child the name of his own 'amm or his own brother (the ch ild s 'amm) if either of the latter has left any sons w ho are already married and hence in a position to reuse their fathers name for one of their son s or grandsons. Here as elsew here, the convenient language of norms and obligations (m u st. . . c a n n o t. . .e tc .) m ust not be allowed to m islead us: thus, a younger brother has been known to take advantage of a favourable balance of power in order to give his children the first name of a prestigious brother who had died leaving only very young children; the children subsequently set their point of honour on retaking possession of the first name of which they considered them selves the legitimate bearers - even at risk of confusion. T h e com petition is particularly evident w hen several brothers wish to give their children their fathers first name: whereas the need to rescue it from neglect and fill up the gap that has appeared requires that the name should be given to the first boy born after the death of its bearer, the

T he functions o f kinship: official kin an d practical kin


may Put t^ attribution of the name in order to give it to one of his ie eldest |nSteacj 0f leaving it for the son of one of his younger brothers, thus Sran - a genealogical level. But it may also happen, on the other hand, that for lack ^ male descendants, a name threatens to escheat, at which point the responsibility reviving it falls first on the collaterals, and then on the group as a w hole, which bv demonstrates that its integration and its wealth o f men enable it to reuse the a m e s of all direct ancestors and, m oreover, to make good any gaps that may appear elsewhere (one of the functions of marriage with the daughter of the 'amm w hen the latter dies w ithout male heirs, being to allow the daughter to see to it that her father's name does not disappear).

T h e eth n ologist is in a particularly bad p osition to d etect th e d istin ctio n between official and practical kinship: as his d ealin gs w ith kinship (at least, the kinship of others) are restricted to cogn itive u ses, he is d isp osed to take for gospel truth the official d iscou rses wr hich in form an ts are in clin ed to present to him as lo n g as they see th em selves as sp okesm en m andated to present the grou p 's official account o f itself. H e has no reason to p erceive that he is allow in g the official definition o f social reality to b e im p o sed on him a version w h ich d om in ates or represses other d efin ition s. W itness to th is are the desperate efforts by generations o f an th rop ologists to confirm or d en y the existence o f " p referen tial cross-cou sin m arriage. A s soon as o n e poses the problem of m arriage in strictly gen ealogical term s, as inform an ts alw ays w ill, by referring to m arriage wr ith th e bent'am m , all further d iscu ssion w ill take place w ithin certain lim its; all so lu tio n s are acceptable so lo n g as they are expressed in gen ealogical l a ng ua ge . . . T h e eth n ologist can n ot break the c o m p licity w hich b in d s him to the official id eology o f his inform ants and reject the presuppositions im p lied in the m ere fact o f se ein g ex clu siv ely genealogical relationships o f filiation or alliance in relation ship s w h ich can be read in other w ays (e .g . in term s o f sib lin gsh ip ) and are alw ays also based on other principles (e .g . eco n o m ic or p o litica l), u nless he situ ates th is sp ecial kind of use of kinship w ith resp ect to the various kinds of u ses the agen ts m ay make of it. W hen the anthropologist treats n ative k insh ip term in o lo g y as a clo sed , coherent sy stem of p urely logical relation sh ip s, defined o n ce and for all b y the im plicit axiom atics of a cultural trad ition, he p roh ib its h im self from apprehending the different practical fu n ctio n s of th e k inship term s and relations w hich he u n w ittin gly brackets; and by th e sam e token he p roh ibits him self from grasping the ep istem ological status of a practice w h ich , like his w n , p resup poses and consecrates n eutralization of the practical fu n ctio n s of those term s and relationships. T h e logical relation ship s con stru cted by the an th rop ologist are op posed to practical relation ship s - practical b ecau se co n tin u o u sly practised, kept UP, and cu ltivated - in the sam e w ay as the geom etrical sp ace of a m ap , an im aginary representation of all theoretically p ossib le roads and rou tes, is

T h e objective limits o f objectivism

op posed to the network of b eaten tracks, of paths m ade ever m ore practicable by con stant u se. T h e gen ealogical tree con stru cted b y th e an th rop ologist, a spatial diagram that can be taken in at a gla n ce, uno intuitu, and scanned indifferently from any p oint in any d irection , causes the co m p lete network of kinship relations over several gen erations to exist as on ly theoretical objects exist, that is, tota sim ul, as a totality p resen t in sim u lta n eity .71 Official relationships w h ich d o not receive con tin u ou s m aintenance ten d to becom e w hat th ey are for the gen ealogist: theoretical relationships, like abandoned roads on an old m ap. In sh ort, the logical relations of kinship to w hich the structuralist tradition ascribes a m ore or less com p lete au ton om y w ith respect to econ om ic d eterm in ants, and correlatively a near-perfect internal co herence, exist in practice on ly through and for the official and unofficial uses m ade o f th em b y agents w hose attachm ent to keeping them in w orking order and to m aking th em work in ten sively - h en ce, through constant u se, ever m ore easily - rises w ith the degree to w h ich they actually or p otentially fulfil fu n ction s in dispensab le to th em or, to put it less a m b ig u o u sly , the exten t to w hich th ey do or can satisfy vital m aterial and sym bolic interests.72

O fficializing strategies By th e m ere fact o f talking o f en d ogam y and o f tryin g, ou t o f a laudable desire for rigour, to m easure its d egrees, on e assu m es the ex isten ce o f a purely gen ealogical definition of th e lin eage. In fact, every adult m ale, at w hatever level on th e genealogical tree, represents a p oint of potential segm entation w h ich m ay b ecom e effective for a particular social purpose. T h e further back in tim e and genealogical space w e place th e p oint o f origin - and n othing forb ids a regression to in finity in th is abstract space - the m ore w e push back the boundaries o f the lineage and th e m ore th e assim ilative pow er of genealogical ideology grow s, but on ly at the exp en se o f its distinctive pow er, w hich increases as w e draw nearer th e p oint o f com m on origin . T h u s the kind of use w h ich can be m ade o f the exp ression ath (" th e d escen d an ts o f, th e people o f . . . ) o b eys a positional logic altogether sim ilar to that w h ich accord in g to Evans-Pritchard characterizes th e u ses o f the w ord ciengy th e sam e person b ein g able, d ep en d in g on circum stance, situ ation , and interlocutor, to call h im self a m em ber o f the A th A bba (th e h ou se, akham ), of the A th Isa'd ( takharrubth), of the A th O usseb'a (adh ru m )t or of the A th Y ahia ('arch). T h e absolute relativism w hich b esto w s upon the agents th e pow er to m anipulate w ith ou t lim it their ow n social id en tity (or that o f th e adversaries or partners w h om they assim ilate or exclu d e b y m anip ulating the lim its o f the classes they each b elo n g to ), w ould at least have the m erit of repu d iating the naive realism o f those w h o cannot characterize a grou p other than as a popu lation defined

O fficializing strategies

3 9

directly visible boundaries. H ow ever, the structure o f a group (and h en ce the social id en tity of th e in dividu als w h o m ake it u p) d ep en d s on the fu n ction which is fundam ental to its con stru ction and organization. T h is is also forgotten by those w h o try to escape from genealogical abstraction by con trasting the d escen t line w ith the local line or the local d escen t grou p , that portion of a unilineal d escen t group w h ich , b y the m ere fact of com m on residence, can act collectively as a g ro u p .73 O n e again su ccu m b s to realism if one forgets that the effects of spatial d istance are d ep en d en t on the fun ction which the social relation ship aim s to ach ieve. W e m ay adm it, for exam p le, that the potential u sefu ln ess of a partner ten d s to decrease w ith distance (except in the case o f p restige m arriages, w here the m ore distant the people between w hom the relationship is estab lish ed , th e greater th e sym b olic profit). If u nity of resid en ce con trib u tes to the integration of the grou p , the unity given to the grou p b y its m obilization for a com m on fun ction con trib utes towards m in im izin g the effect o f d istance. In sh ort, althou gh w e cou ld in theory m aintain that there are as m any p ossib le groups as there are fu n ctio n s, the fact rem ains that, as w e saw in the case o f m arriage, on e cannot call on absolutely anyone for a n y occasion , any m ore than on e can offer o n es services to anyone for a n y en d . T h u s , to escape from relativism w ithou t falling into realism , w e m ay posit that th e con stants of the field o f potentially useful relationships (i.e . th ose that are actually u sable, because spatially close, and useful, because socially influential) cause each grou p of agents to ten d to keep up b y con tin u ou s m aintenance-w ork a privileged netw ork o f practical relationships w hich com p rises not only th e su m total of the genealogical relationships kept in w orking order (here called practical kinsh ip ) b ut also the sum total o f the non-gen ealogical relation ship s w hich can be m obilized for the ordinary n eed s of existen ce (practical relation ship s). T h e official set o f th ose in dividuals am enable to definition b y the sam e relationship to the sam e ancestor at th e sam e level on the genealogical tree may con stitu te a practical grou p : th is is the case w h en the genealogical divisions cover (in both sen ses) u nits foun ded on other p rin cip les, w hether ecological (n eigh b ou rh ood ), econ om ic (un d ivid ed p atrim on y), or political. T he fact that the d escrip tive value o f the genealogical criterion is greater w hen the com m on origin is nearer and the social u nit is m ore lim ited d oes not m ean that its unificatory efficacy rises in the sam e w ay. In fact, as w e shall see, the closest genealogical relationship, that b etw een brothers, is also th e p oin t of greatest ten sion , and o n ly in cessan t work can m aintain the co m m u n ity of interests. In sh ort, th e genealogical relation ship is never stron g en ou gh on its ow n to provide a com p lete d eterm ination o f th e relationship b etw een the individuals w hich it u n ites, and it has su ch p redictive value on ly w h en it g oes with the shared interests, produced by th e com m on possession of a m aterial


T h e objective lim its o f objectivism

an d sy m b o lic p atrim on y, w h ich en ta ils co llec tiv e v u ln era b ility as w ell as co llectiv e p rop erty. T h e e x te n t o f practical k insh ip d ep en d s on th e capacity o f th e official grou p m em b ers to o v erco m e th e ten sio n s en g en d ered b y the co n flict o f in terests w ith in th e u n d iv id ed p rod u ction and co n su m p tio n grou p , and to k eep u p the kind o f p ractical relation sh ip s w h ich co n fo rm to th e official v iew h eld b y every grou p wrh ich th in k s o f itself as a corporate u n it. O n that co n d itio n , th e y m ay en joy b o th th e ad van tages a ccru in g fro m ev ery practical relation sh ip and th e sy m b o lic p rofits secu red b y th e approval so cia lly con ferred o n practices c o n fo rm in g to th e official represen tation of practices. S tra teg ies aim ed at p ro d u c in g "regular p ractices are o n e categ o ry , am ong oth ers, o f officializing strategies, th e o b ject o f w h ich is to tr a n s m u te " e g o is tic , private, particular in terests (n o tio n s d efin ab le only w ith in th e relation ship b etw een a social u n it and th e en co m p a ssin g social u n it at a h ig h er le v el) in to d isin te re ste d , co llec tiv e, p u b lic ly avow ab le, leg itim a te in terests. In the ab sen ce o f p olitical in stitu tio n s en d o w e d w ith an effectiv e m o n o p o ly of leg itim a te v io len ce, p olitical action p rop er can b e ex ercised o n ly b y th e effect o f officialization and th u s p resu p p o ses th e competence (in th e se n se o f a ca pacity socially recogn ized in a pu blic au th ority) required in ord er to m anip ulate th e co llec tiv e d efinition o f th e situ a tio n in su ch a w ay as to b rin g it closer to th e official d efin ition o f th e situ ation and th ereb y to w in th e m ea n s of m o b ilizin g th e largest p o ssib le grou p , th e op p o site strategy te n d in g to reduce th e sam e situ ation to a m erely private affair .7 T o p o ssess th e cap ital of 4 a u th ority necessary to im p o se a d efin ition o f the situ a tio n , esp ecia lly in the m o m e n ts o f crisis w h e n th e co llec tiv e ju d g m en t falters, is to be able to m o b ilize th e grou p b y so le m n iz in g , officializin g, an d th u s u n iv e rsa lizin g a p rivate in cid en t (e .g . b y p resen tin g an in su lt to a particular w om an as an affront to th e hurma o f th e w h o le g r o u p ). It is also to b e ab le to d em o b ilize it, b y d iso w n in g th e p erson d irectly co n ce rn ed , w h o , fa ilin g to id en tify his particular in terest w ith th e " gen eral in te r e s t, is red u ced to th e sta tu s o f a m ere in d ivid u al, co n d em n e d to appear u nreason able in seek in g to im p o se his private reason - idiotes in G reek and am ah bul in K a b y le. In fa ct, grou p s d em an d in fin itely less than legalist form alism w o u ld have u s b e lie v e , but m u ch m ore than th o se w h o " w o n t p lay th e g am e are w illin g to gran t th em . B etw een th e responsible m an, w h o m th e ex c e lle n c e o f a p ractice im m ed iately in lin e w ith th e official rule, b eca u se p ro d u ced b y a regu lated h abitus, p red isp o ses to fulfil th e fu n ctio n s o f d eleg a te and sp o k e s m an, and th e irresponsible m an w h o , n ot c o n ten t w ith break in g th e ru les, d oes n o th in g to ex ten u a te h is in fraction s, g r o u p s m ake room for th e w ell-m eaning rule-breaker w h o b y c o n c e d in g th e ap pearan ces or in ten t o f co n fo rm ity , that is, recognition, to rules he can n eith er resp ect nor d en y , co n trib u tes to the - en tirely official - su rvival of th e ru le. It is natural that p o litics sh o u ld b e th e

O fficializing strategies


ivjjeged arena for th e d ia lec tic of th e official and th e u sefu l: in their efforts ^ draw th e g ro u p s d eleg a tio n upon th e m se lv e s and w ith d ra w it from their
rivals, the agen ts in co m p etitio n for p olitical p ow er are lim ited to ritual
s tr a te g ie s in te r e sts

and strategic ritu als, p rod u cts o f th e c o lle c tiv iz in g of private and th e sy m b o lic ap propriation o f official in terests. ^ e ab sen ce o f ec o n o m ic a cc u m u la tio n , th e stru g g le to a ccu m u late

But th e stru ggle to m o n o p o liz e th e leg itim a te exercise o f v io le n c e - that is to say, sym bolic capital in th e form of c o llec tiv ely reco g n ized credit - m u st n ot lead us to forget th e n ecessarily h id d en o p p o sitio n b etw een th e official and th e unofficial. C o m p etitio n for official p ow er can be se t up o n ly b etw een m en , while the w o m e n m ay en ter in to com p etitio n for a p ow er wr ich is b y d efin itio n h condem ned to rem ain unofficial or ev en cla n d estin e and o cc u lt. W e find in fact in the p olitical sp h ere th e sam e d iv isio n o f lab ou r w h ich en tru sts relig io n - p u b lic , official, so le m n , and co llec tiv e - to th e m en , and m agic - secret, clandestine, and private - to th e w o m e n . In th is co m p e titio n th e m en have the w hole official in stitu tio n o n their sid e , startin g w ith th e m vth ico-ritu al representations and th e rep resen tation s o f k in sh ip w h ic h , b y red u cin g the opposition b etw e en th e official and th e private to the o p p o sitio n b etw een the outside and th e in sid e, h en ce th e m ale and th e fem a le, esta b lish a sy stem a tic hierarchization c o n d e m n in g w o m e n s in te rv e n tio n s to a sh a m e fu l, secret, or, at b est, unofficial ex iste n c e . Even w h en w o m e n d o w ield th e real p ow er, as is often th e case in m atrim onial m atters, th e y can ex ercise it fu lly o n ly on condition that th e y leave th e appearance o f powr er, that is, its official m anifestation, to th e m e n ; to have any p ow er at all, w o m e n m ust m ake do with th e unofficial p ow er o f th e eminence grise, a dom in ated p o w e r w h ich is opposed to official p ow er in that it can op erate o n ly b y p ro x y , u n d er th e cover of an official au th o rity , as w ell as to th e su b v ersiv e refusal o f th e rule-breaker, in that it still serves th e au th ority it u ses. T h e true statu s o f kin relatio n sh ip s, p rin cip les of stru ctu ration of th e social world w h ich , as su c h , alw ays fulfil a p olitical fu n ctio n , is m o st clearly seen in the d ifferen t u ses wr ich m en and w o m e n can m ake o f th e sam e field of h genealogical rela tio n sh ip s, and in particular in th eir d ifferen t " r ea d in g s and u s e s o f gen ea lo g ica lly am b ig u o u s k in sh ip ties (w h ich are relatively freq u en t on accou n t of the narrow area of m atrim onial c h o ic e ).
In all cases o f genealogically am biguous relationship, one can always bring closer the most distant relative, or m ove closer to him , by em phasizing what unites, w hile one can hold the closest relative at a distance by em phasizing wr hat separates. What ls at stake in these m anipulations, w hich it w ould be naive to consider fictitious on the grounds that no one is taken in, is in all cases nothing other than the definition of the practical lim its of the group, w hich can be redrawn by this m eans so as to go beyond or fall short of an individual one w ants to annex or ex clu d e. An idea of these subtleties m ay be got from considering the uses of the term khal (strictly, m others


T h e objective limits o f objectivism



Koula (




k.- Mohand

A thm an

K hedoudja

Ahmed Case i Case 2

F ig . i.

b roth er): used by a m arabout to a com m on, lay peasant, it expresses the desire to distinguish oneself, w ithin the lim its of courtesy, by indicating the absence of any legitim ate kin relationship; whereas between peasants, it m anifests the intention of setting up a minimal relationship of familiarity by invoking a distant, hypothetical affinal relationship.

It is the official reading that the an th rop ologist is accep tin g w h en , w ith his in form an ts b lessin g , he assim ilates to parallel-cousin m arriage the relation sh ip w h ich u nites, for exam p le, secon d -d egree patrilateral parallel cou sin s w hen on e o f them is h im self th e ch ild o f a parallel-cousin m arriage, and a fo rtio ri w h en b oth are ch ild ren of su ch m arriages (as in th e case o f an exchan ge o f w om en b etw een the son s of tw o b rothers). T h e m ale, that is to say, the d om in an t reading, w h ich im p oses itself w ith particular in sisten ce in all p u b lic, official situ a tio n s - in sh ort, in all honou r relation ship s in w hich one m an of h onou r is sp eak in g to another - p rivileges th e n oblest asp ect, the aspect m ost w o rth y o f p u b lic p roclam ation, of a m ulti-faceted relation ship , lin k ing each of th e in d ivid u als w h o are to be situated to his patrilineal forebears and, th rou gh th e latter, to the patrilineal forebears th ey have in co m m o n . It represses the other p ossib le pathw ay, alb eit so m etim es m ore direct and often m ore co n v en ien t p ractically, w h ich w ou ld reckon through the w om en . T h u s , gen ealogical prop riety requires on e to con sid er Z oubir as having m arried in A ldja his fath ers fath ers b rothers so n s d augh ter, or his fath ers b roth ers d a u gh ters daughter, rather than h is m o th ers b roth ers daughter, even if, as h app en s to be the case, th is latter relation ship lies at the origin o f the m arriage (see fig. i, case i) ; or again, to cite another case from the sam e gen ea lo g y , that K h ed oud ja sh ould b e seen as her husband

C ollective beliefs an d w hite lies


d s father's fathers b rother's son 's daughter, instead o f b ein g treated cross cou sin (fathers siste rs d au gh ter), w h ich sh e equally w ell is (case ^ T h e h eretical reading, w'hich p rivileges the relation s through w o m en that exclu d ed from the official a ccou n t, is reserved for private situ a tio n s, if ^ot for m a g ic, w h ich , like in su lts, d esign ates its victim as " his m o th ers son and not h is fath er's son

A part from the cases in w hich w om en are sp eak ing

to oth er w om en about a w om an s kin relation sh ip s, w hen use of the language

of kin sh ip through w om en is taken for granted, th is language m ay also be current in the m ost in tim ate sp h ere of fam ily life,

i.e . in a w o m a n s

con versatio n s w ith her father and his brothers or her h u sb an d , her so n s, or even p erh ap s her h u sb an d s b rother, taking on th en the value of an affirm ation of th e in tim a c y o f the grou p of in terlocu tors as w ell as at least the sy m b o lic participation in that in tim acy of th e person th u s d esign a ted . T h e an th rop olo gist is in d eed the on ly person to undertake pure, d isin terested research into all p o ssib le routes b etw een tw o p o in ts in gen ealogical s p a c e : in p ractice, the ch oice o f one route rather than an oth er, the m ale or the fem ale, w h ich orients the m arriage tow ards on e or the oth er lin eage, d ep en d s on the pow er relations w ith in the d om estic u n it and ten ds to rein force, b y leg itim a tin g it, the balance o f pow er w h ich m akes th e ch oice p ossib le.

C ollective beliefs an d w h ite lies T he am biguity o f the strategies in to w h ich it enters is su ch as to lead us to ask w hether parallel-cousin m arriage sh ou ld be seen as th e ideal, hardly ever achieved in practice, o f accom p lish ed m arriage; or as an ethical norm (a duty of honour) w hich bears on every m arriageable person b u t w h ich can conceivably be broken (w h en circu m stan ces m ake it im p o ssib le); or sim p ly as a " m o v e recom m en d ed in certain situ ation s. It is because it is all these things at once that it is a favoured ob ject of m anip ulation. In this case, the second-order strategies aim ed at d isg u isin g the first-order strategies and th e interests th ey p u rsu e, u nd er the appearances of o b ed ien ce to the rule, arise from the a m b igu ity of a practice that is ob jectively am en able to a tw ofold reading, th e gen ealogical reading, w h ich everyth in g en cou rages, and the econom ic and p olitical reading, w h ich w ould p resup pose access to com p lete inform ation on the exchan ges b etw een the groups in q u estio n . B ut the ideological trap w orks both w ays: too m uch faith in native a ccou n ts can lead n e to present a m ere id eological screen as the norm o f practice; too m uch distrust of them m ay cause on e to n eglect the social fu n ction of a lie socially devised and en cou raged , on e o f th e m ean s agen ts have of correcting the sym bolic effects o f strategies im p o sed b y other n ece ssitie s .75 T h ere is n o d ou b t that th e p re-em in en t p osition en joyed by parallel-cousin


T h e objective lim its o f objectivism

m arriage in native accoun ts and, co n seq u en tly , in eth nograph ic accoun ts, is d u e to the fact that it is the m arriage m ost p erfectly co n sisten t w ith the m yth ico-ritu al representation of th e sexual d iv isio n of labour, and m ore parti* cularly o f th e fu n ction s assigned to the m en and the w o m en in inter-group relations. F irst, it con stitu tes the m ost ab solute affirm ation of the refusal to recogn ize the relation ship of affinity for w hat it is, i.e. w hen it does not appear as a sim p le duplication of the relationship o f filiation: there is praise for the result peculiar to a m arriage b etw een parallel co u sin s, the fact that the resu lting ch ild ren (" th ose w h ose extraction is u n m ix ed , w h o se b lood is p u r e ) can be attached to th e sam e lineage through their father or their m oth er ("he took his m aternal u n cles from the place w here he has his r o o ts*- ichathel, ikh aw el, or in A rabic, " h is m aternal u n cle is h is paternal u n c le - khalu r m u). O n the other hand w e know that the husband is free (in theory) to am repudiate his w ife, and that a w ife co m in g from ou tsid e is a virtual stranger until sh e has p roduced a m ale d escen dan t and so m etim es even b eyon d that tim e. W e know too the am bivalen ce of the relationship b etw een n ep h ew and m aternal uncle ( khal): " h e w h o has no en em ies need o n ly await his sister's s o n (that is, the person w h o , in con tem p t o f h onou r, can alw ays claim his m oth ers in heritan ce p ortion ). But the refusal to recogn ize the affinity relationship (" th e w om an neither u n ites or se p a r a te s, tham attuth u r th a zed d i ur theferreq) finds reinforcem ent, if not a basis, in the m yth ical representation of w om an as the sou rce from w hich im pu rity and d ishon ou r threaten to en ter the lin eage. N o th in g entirely g ood can com e fom a w om an : sh e can bring n o th in g but evil or, at b est, the lesser of tw o ev ils, her w ick ed n ess on ly b ein g com p en sated for by her weakness (" G od knew what he w as creating in the d o n k ey ; he d id n t g iv e him any h o rn s) . T h is lesser ev il, th is g ood in evil, alw ays arises in w om en through the corrective and p rotective action o f a m an. "S h am e is th e m a id e n - aVar thaqchichth - the proverb says, and th e son -in -law is so m etim es called setter la y u b " th e veil cast over sh a m e .76 It fo llo w s that a w om an is n ever w orth m ore than the w orth o f the m en of her lin eage. It fo llo w s to o that the best, or least bad, of w om en is the on e w h o is sp ru n g from the m en o f th e lineage, the patrilateral parallel cou sin , the m ost m ascu lin e of w om en - th e extrem e in stance o f w h ich , the im p ossib le figm en t of a patriarchal im agin ation , is A th en e, born o f Z e u s head. "M arry the daughter o f you r 'amm; even if she ch ew s yo u , sh e w o n t sw allow y o u . T h e patrilateral parallel co u sin , a cu l tivated, straightened w om an , is op posed to th e m atrilateral parallel cou sin , a natural, tw isted , m aleficen t, im pu re w om an , as the m ale-fem ale is op posed to the fem ale-fem ale, i.e . in accordance w ith the stru cture (o f the ty p e a :b : : b j : b 2) w h ich also organ izes the m yth ic space o f the h ouse and o f the agrarian calen dar .77 M arriage to the fathers brothers daughter is the m ost

C ollective beliefs an d w h ite lies


j 0 f ail m arriages, and the on e m ost likely to call d ow n b lessin gs on roup- I 1 usec*t0 r^ e f the o p en in g rite of the m arriage season , nded, like the h o m o lo g o u s rite in the case of p lou g h in g , to exorcize the threat contained in the co m in g togeth er of m ale and fem ale, fire and w ater, kv and earth, plough sh are and furrow , in acts o f in evitab le sa crileg e .7 8 T h e projection of the categories of m yth ic th o u g h t on to kin relation ship s duces op p osition s w h ich w ould rem ain relatively unreal if th e d ivision s thev engender d id not corresp ond to a fun dam en tal d ivision in d om estic politics: the interests of the m other, seek in g to reinforce her p o sitio n in her adoptive hom e by b rin gin g into the fam ily a w om an sp ru n g from her ow n lineage, are ob jectively op p osed to the in terests of the father, wr o, in arranging h his son s m arriage, as befits a m an, by an agreem en t w ith h is ow n kin, his own brother, or som e other patrilineal kinsm an, rein forces the agnatic unit and, thereby, his ow n p osition in the d om estic u n it.
The in-marrying woman ( thislith), depending on whether she is linked to her husbands father (and in that case, whether she is so by her father, or more generally bv a man, or by her m other) or to her husbands m other (and there again, whether it is by her father or her m oth er), carries very different w eight in the power relationship with her husbands m other ( thamgharth); this relationship clearly also varies depending on the thamgharth genealogical relationship to the men of the lineage (i.e . to her s husband s father). T h u s the patrilateral parallel cousin finds herself from the outset in a position of strength w hen she has to deal w ith an "old w o m a n from outside the lineage, whereas the "old w om ans position may be strengthened in her relations with thislith, and also, indirectly, in her relations w ith her ow n husband, w hen thislith is her own sisters daughter, and, a fortiori, her brother s daughter. Since the mother and the father have (in a certain respect) structurally opposed interests, the so n s marriage provokes a confrontation - albeit undeclared, because the wom en can have no official strategy - betw een the parents, the father tending to favour marriage within the lineage, i.e. the one w hich mythical representation, the ideological legitim ation of male dom ination, presents as the best, while the mother directs her secret approaches towards her own lineage, and at the opportune m om ent will invite her husband to give his official sanction to the results. T h e wom en w ould not deploy in matrimonial exploration all the ingenuity and effort that is generally conceded to them by the sexual division of labour, at least up to the m om ent w hen official dialogue can be established between the m en, if it were not the case that their so n s marriage contains the potentiality of the subversion of their ow n pow er, and thus of a crisis in the dom estic economy which w ould lead consum ption ( lakhla ukham, the em ptiness of the house) to overtake the accum ulation of stocks (la'mara ukham, the fullness of the house), resulting eventually in the break up of joint ow nership. T h is m eans, incidentally, that the interests of "the old m an (amghar) and "the old w o m a n ( thamgharth) are not necessarily antagonistic: conscious of the advantage to him self of the choice of a young Wlfe (thislith) fully devoted to a thamgharth herself devoted to the lineage, am gharw ill authorize thamgharth to seek out a docile girl from her lineage: moreover, since the w ole structure of practical relationships betw een kinsm en is present in each particular je ationship, he may deliberately choose to take for his son his own sisters daughter \patrilateral cross cousin) or even, w ithout being seen to do so , encourage his wife t marry him to her broth ers daughter (matrilateral cross cousin) rather than


T he objective limits o f objectivism

strengthen the hold of a brother already dom inant (by age or prestige), by agreeing to take his daughter (patrilateral parallel cousin).

Parallel-cousin m arriage m ay in certain cases im p ose itself as a necessity w h ich is, howr ever, not that of a gen ealogical rule. In practice th is ideal marriage is often a forced ch o ic e, w'hich p eop le so m etim es try to pass off as a p ositive ch oice of the id eal, th u s m aking a virtue of n ecessity . T h e native " theory , taken up w ith en th u siasm b y legalist form alism , accord in g to which everyon e has a sort o f " righ t o f p re-e m p tio n over h is parallel cou sin , is d o u b tless sim p ly another exp ression o f the id eo lo g y o f m a scu lin ity w hich gives the m an su periority, and therefore the in itiative, in all relations b etw een the sexes and especially in m arriage.
It is im possible to find an informant or anthropologist who will not declare that in Arab and Berber countries every boy has a ''rig h t to his parallel cousin: " If the boy wants his fathers brothers daughter, he has a right to her. But if he d o esn t, he isn t consulted. Its the same as with land. A lthough infinitely closer to the reality of practice than anthropological legalism , which does not even suspect the homology betw een a m ans relation to the w om en of the lineage and his relation to the land, this remark by an inform ant, w hich adopts the official language of law, masks the real and infinitely more com plex relation linking an individual with his parallel cousin. A m ans supposed right to the bent'amm, the fathers brothers daughter, may in fact be a duty which obeys the same principles as the obligation to avenge a kinsman or to buy up a piece of family land coveted by strangers, and is therefore totally binding only in very special and even som ewhat exceptional circum stances.79 T h e fact that, in the case of land, the right of pre-em ption (achfa') is formulated and codified by the learned legal tradition (furnished with an institutionalized authority and guaranteed by the courts) as w ell as by " cu sto m ( qanun) in no way im plies that the juridical or customary rule can be m ade the principle of the practices actually observed when land changes hands. Because the sale of a piece of land belonging to the patrimony is first and forem ost an internal matter for the lineage, it is entirely exceptional for the group to have recourse to the authorities (the clan or village assem bly) which transmute the obligation of honour into a right, and if they do invoke the right or custom of chafa (or achfa'), they are alm ost always m otivated by principles which have nothing to do w ith those of legal rights (e.g . the intention to challenge the purchaser of the lands by dem anding the annulm ent of an allegedly illegal sale) and which govern m ost of the practices of buying or selling land. T h e obligation to marry a woman who is in a situation similar to that of fallow land, neglected by its masters ( athbur, unmarried girl; el bur, fallow land) sim ply im poses itself w ith less urgency than the obligation to buy land put up for sale by a group m em ber, or to buy back land fallen into the hands of outsiders, land ill defended and ill possessed ; and it is infinitely less binding than the im perative of avenging the murder of a group mem ber. In all these cases, the force o f the duty depends on the agents positions in the genealogy and also, of course, on their dispositions. T h u s, in the case of revenge, the obligation of honour may becom e a right to honour in the eyes of som e (the same murder is som etim es avenged tw ice), while others w ill back out or bring them selves to do it only under pressure. In the case of land, the material advantage o f purchase is clear, and the hierarchy of rights to honour and obligations to buy is both more apparent and more often transgressed, with conflicts and com plex transactions betw een

C ollective beliefs an d w h ite lies

m e m b e rs


of the family who feel obliged to purchase but cannot afford to, and t^ lSe xrhn have lesser duty-rights to purchase but could afford to.


In practice, parallel-cousin m arriage d oes not take on the ideal sign ifican ce

and function w hich th e official accou n ts attribute it, excep t in th o se fam ilies
which are sufficiently stron gly integrated to wr ant th is rein forcem en t o f their integration. It on ly im p oses itself, at least in an ab solu te wr ay, in extrem e circum stances, su ch as the case of the daughter of the am engur, the m an w ho has " fa iled , w h o has n ot had a m ale heir. In this case in terest and d uty com cide to require the m arriage of the parallel cou sin s, sin ce the amengur's brother and his ch ild ren w ill in any case inherit not on ly the land an d the house of the " fa ile d m an but also his ob ligation s w ith regard to his daughters (particularly in the case o f w id ow h ood or rep u d iation ), and sin ce this marriage is, m oreover, the on ly wr o f avoid in g the threat w'hich m arriage ay to a stranger (aw rith ) w ou ld pose to the h onou r of th e grou p and perhaps to its patrim ony. T h e obligation to m arry the parallel cou sin also im p o ses itself w h en a daughter has not fou n d a h usb and , or at least not fou n d on e w orth y o f her family: " H e wr o has a daughter and d oes not marry her off m u st bear her h sh am e ; " T h e m an w h ose daughter grow s up w ith ou t m arrying w ould be better off dead than a liv e . T h e relation ship b etw een brothers is su ch that a man cannot w ith h old his daughter w h en his b rother, esp ecially an elder brother, asks for her for his son . In th is lim itin g case, in w hich the taker is also the giver, in asm uch as he is the eq u ivalen t of and su b stitu te for the father, shirking the obligation is scarcely thinkable, as w h en an u n cle asks for his niece on behalf of so m eon e to wr om he has prom ised her; it w ould m oreover, h be a serious sligh t to a m an s b rothers to marry off his daughter w ithou t inform ing and co n su ltin g th e m , and a b roth ers disapproval, o ften g iven as a reason for refusin g, is not ahvays a ritual p retext. T h e d em an d s o f solidarity are even m ore b in d in g , and refusal is unthin k able wr en , g o in g against all h propriety (it is alw ays the m an w ho " a sk s for the w om an in m arriage), the girls father offers her for h is n ep h ew , h in tin g at it as d iscreetly as possible, thou gh to con travene cu stom in th is w ay on e has to be able to co u n t n a relationship as stron g as that b etw een twr closely u n ited brothers. T h e o fact rem ains that, sin ce honou r and d ishon ou r are held in co m m o n , th e tw o brothers have the sam e in terest in "coverin g u p the sham e before it is un v eile d , or, in the language of sy m b o lic in terest, before the fam ily finds that its sy m b olic capital has been d evalu ed b y the lack o f takers for its aughters on the m atrim onial m arket .8 S o , even in th ese lim itin g situ ation s 0 where the ch oice of th e parallel co u sin im p oses itself wr ith extrem e rigour, ere is no need to appeal to ethical or juridical rules in order to a cco u n t for Practices w hich are th e result of strategies co n sciou sly or u n co n scio u sly


T he objective lim its o f objectivism

directed tow ards th e satisfaction o f a d eterm in ate type of m aterial and sy m bolic in terests. T h e eth ic o f honou r is the self-in terest eth ic of social for m ations. grou p s, or classes in w hose patrim on y sy m b o lic capital figures p rom in en tly. O n ly total unaw areness o f the terrible and perm anent loss w h ich a slur on th e honour of the w o m en o f the lin eage can represent could lead on e to see o b ed ien ce to an ethical or juridical rule as the principle of the action s in ten d ed to p revent, con ceal, or make g ood the outrage. M arriages w h ich are id en tical as regards gen ea lo g y alone m ay th u s have differen t, even o p p o site , m ean in gs and fu n ctio n s, d ep en d in g on the strategies in w h ich th ey are in v o lv ed . T h e s e can on ly be grasped b y m eans o f a re con stru ction of th e entire system of relation ship s b etw een the twr associated o grou p s and o f th e state of th ese relation ship s at a g iven p oint in tim e. A s soon as one con sid ers not sim p ly the m arriages already co n clu d ed , those counted and classified by the g en ealogist, b u t also the co n scio u s and u n con sciou s strategies and th e ob jective co n d ition s w h ich m ade them p o ssib le and n eces sary, i.e . the in d ivid u al and collectiv e fu n ction s w h ich they have fulfilled , one cannot fail to n o tice that any tw o m arriages b etw een parallel co u sin s m ay have n oth in g in co m m o n , d ep en d in g on w heth er th ey w ere co n clu d ed d uring the lifetim e of the co m m o n paternal grandfather, and even perhaps by him (w ith the agreem en t of th e tw o fathers, or "over their h e a d s), or on th e contrary by direct agreem en t b etw een the tw o b rothers ; w hether in th is latter case they w ere arranged w h ile the future sp ou ses w ere still ch ild ren , or on ce th ey were o f m arriageable age (not to m en tion the case o f the daughter w h o has already passed that a g e); w h eth er th e tw o brothers live and work separately or have kept u n d ivid ed th eir farm ing activity (land, herds, and other g o o d s) and their d om estic e c o n o m y ("a sin gle cook in g p o t ), not to m en tion th e case in w hich on ly the appearance of u n d ivid ed property is m aintain ed ; w h eth er it is the elder brother ( d a d d a ) w h o g ives his daughter to his junior, or on th e contrary w h o takes a d augh ter from h im , a d ifferen ce in age and esp ecially in sib lin g order so m etim es b ein g associated w ith d ifferen ces in social rank and prestige; w h eth er the brother g iv in g h is daughter has a m ale heir or is an am engur; w h eth er the tw o brothers are alive at the m om en t w hen the m arriage is settled , or on ly one of th em is, and m ore p recisely w h eth er th e surviving brother is the b o y s father, the d esign ated protector of th e girl he is taking for h is son (esp ecially if sh e has n o adult b rother), or on the contrary, the girls father, wr o m ay u se his d om in ant p osition in order to secure the h allegiance of th e son -in -law . A nd as if to add to the a m b igu ity of this type of m arriage, it is not u nu sual, as w e have seen , that th e d uty to sacrifice o n eself, so as to be the " veil cast over s h a m e , and to p rotect a su sp ect or ill-favoured g irl, sh ould fall to a m an from the poorest branch o f th e lineage, w h ose act it is easy, u seful and p raisew orthy to praise as if it sprang from

Collective beliefs a n d w h ite lies

h is e a g e r n e s s


to fulfil a d uty of h on ou r tow ards the d augh ter of h is 'amm or

even to exercise his right as a m ale m em b er o f the lin ea g e .81 I n f o r m a n t s con stantly rem ind u s by th eir very in coh eren ces and con trad ic tions that m arriage can n ever be fu lly defined in gen ealogical term s, and that it may take on different, even o p p o site m ean in gs and fu n ctio n s, accord in g to its d eterm in in g con d itio n s. T h e y also rem ind u s that parallel-cousin marriage can be th e w orst or the b est o f m arriages d ep en d in g on w h eth er it is seen as voluntary or forced , i.e . d ep en d in g prim arily on th e relative p o sitio n s

the fam ilies in the social stru ctu re. It m ay be the best kind o f m arriage

("to marry the daughter of your 'amm is to have h on ey in your m o u th ), not simply from the m yth ic p oin t o f v ie w , but also in term s o f practical satisfactions, sin ce it is the least on erou s econ om ically and socially - the transactions and m aterial and sy m b o lic costs b ein g reduced to a m in im u m - and at the sam e tim e th e safest: th e sam e term s are u sed to contrast a close marriage w ith a d istant on e as are u sed to contrast direct exch a n g es b etw een peasants w ith m arket tran saction s .8 It m ay also be th e w orst kind of u nion 2 ("Marriage b etw een *paternal u n c le s ' - a z w a j el la 'm u m - is bitter in m y heart; I pray you , oh m y G od , p reserve m e from that m isfo r tu n e ),83 and also the least prestigious (" F rien d s have com e w h o oversh adow y o u ; you re main, you w h o are b la c k ) w h en ever it is forced on th e grou p as a last resort. In short, the apparent in coh eren ce o f in form an ts accou n ts in fact draw s our attention to th e fun ction al am b ig u ity o f a genealogically (i.e . id eo lo g ica lly ) unequivocal m arriage, an d th ereb y to the m an ip u lation s of the ob jective m eaning o f practice and its p ro d u ct w h ich th is com b in a tio n of am bigu ity and clarity allow s and en cou rages Perhaps the only victim of these m anipulations is the anthropologist: by putting into the same class all patrilateral parallel-cousin marriages (and assim ilated cases) whatever their functions for the individuals and groups involved, he assimilates practices which may differ in all the respects left out of account by the genealogical model. One example will suffice to give an idea of the econom ic and sym bolic inequalities w hich may be disguised beneath the mask of the genealogical relationship between classificatory parallel cou sin s and to bring to light the specifically political strategies cloaked under the legitim acy of th is relationship. T h e spouses belong to the house of Belaid , a big fam ily in term s both of its num bers (perhaps ten m en of fork in g age and about forty people in all) and of its econom ic capital. Because undivided property is never anything other than a refusal to divide, the inequalities " nich separate the potential "shares and the respective contributions of different lines strongly felt. T h u s the line of the descendants of A hm ed, from which the , egroom com es> * m uch richer in men than the line of Y oucef, from which the s e com es, and which is correspondingly richer in land. Wealth in m en, considered 2s reproductive strength and therefore as the prom ise of still greater wealth in m en, 18 related, provided one knows how to make the capital work, to a great num ber of ? Vantages the most im portant of w hich is authority in the conduct o f the houses internal and external affairs: " T h e house of men is greater than the house of ca ttle

T h e objective limits o f objectivism

( akham irgazen if akham izgaren). T h e pre-em inent position of this line is shown by the fact that it has been able to take over the first nam es of the rem ote ancestors of the family and that it includes A hcene, who represents the group in all major external encounters, w hether conflict or cerem onies, and A hm ed, the "wise m a n who by his mediation and counsel ensures the unity of the group. T h e girls father (Y oucef) js totally excluded from power, not so m uch on account of the difference in age separating him from his uncles (A hcene and A hm ed), since A h m ed s sons, although much younger than he, are associated w ith the decisions, but above all because he has cut him self off from com petition betw een m en, from all exceptional contributions, and even to a certain extent from work on the land. (A n only son, and, moreover, "son of the w id o w , coddled by a w hole set o f w om en (m other, aunts, etc.) as the only hope of the lineage, kept away from the gam es and work of the other children in order to go to school, he has kept in a marginal position all his life. After a period of army service and then agricultural labour abroad, he takes advantage, now that he is back in the village, of his favourable position as possessor of a large share of the patrimony with only a few m ouths to feed, restricting him self to the work of overseeing, gardening, and tending (m ills, gardens, and fig-driers) - those tasks w hich require the least initiative and entail the few est responsibilities, in short, the least male of male jobs.) T h ese are som e of the elem ents which m ust be taken into account in order to understand the internal and external political function of the marriage betw een Belaid - t h e last son of Amar, him self the son of A hm ed, the uncle of Y oucef - and Y ou cefs daughter Yasmina, his classificatorv parallel cousin (fathers fathers brothers sons daughter). T h is marriage, arranged by A hm ed and A hcene, the holders of p o w e r as usual w ithout consulting Y oucef, and leaving his w ife to protest in vain against a union bringing little profit - reinforces the position of the dom inant line, strengthening its links w ith the line rich in land, w ithout in any way com prom ising its external prestige, since the structure of dom estic power is never declared outwardly, and because even its m ost im poverished mem ber nevertheless shares in the brilliance of the lineage. T h u s the com plete truth about this marriage resides in its tw ofold truth. T he official im age, that of a marriage betw een parallel cousins in a large family anxious to demonstrate its unity by a marriage able to reinforce it at the sam e time as displaying its adherence to the m ost sacred of the ancestral traditions, coexists without contradiction, even am ong strangers to the group, w ho are always sufficiently well inform ed never to be taken in by the representations they are given, with knowledge of the objective truth about a union w hich sanctions the forced alliance between tw o social units sufficiently attached to one another negatively, for better or for w orse, i.e. genealogically, to be forced to unite their com plem entary riches. Endless exam ples could be given of this sort of collective bad faith.

It is u nd erstan dab le that, faced w ith su ch accom plished p rod ucts o f the art of m asking con strain ts and in terests u nd er exp ressio n s capable o f sidetrack ing sp on tan eou s h erm en eu tics tow ards the less real but m ore presentable m otives o f m orality and d u ty , the collectiv e ju d gem en t should h esitate. But there is n o case in w hich th e ob jective m ean in g o f a m arriage is so strongly marked as to leave n o room for sy m b o lic transfiguration. T h u s th e marriage of the so-called mechrut, by w h ich a m an w h o has no male d escen d an ts gives his d augh ter in m arriage to an " h e ir (aw rith ) on con d ition that he com es to live in his fath er-in -law s h ou se, is en cou n tered on ly in tales or anthropology' books in the form o f th e sort of purchase of a son -in -law , recruited for his

Collective beliefs an d w h ite lies er 0f p rod uction and reprodu ction , that m echan ical application o f the
n fo r m a n ts

Official p r in c ip le K abyle w orld -view w ould lead u s to see in i t .8 T h e 4 w ho m en tion it, in w hatever region , are right in saying that this

form of marriage is u n k n ow n am ong th em and on ly to be foun d in other areas. T h e m ost careful scru tin y of gen ealogies and fam ily h istories w ill not reveal a single case w hich p erfectly m atches the d efin ition (" I g iv e y o u m y d aughter, but vou w ill com e to m y h o m e ). Rut on e is eq u ally en titled to claim that there is no fam ily w h ich d oes not in clu d e at least on e a w rith y but an aw rith disguised u nd er the official im age of the " a sso cia te or th e "adopted s o n . The word aw rith , the " h eir , is an official eu p h em ism a llo w in g p eop le to nam e the unnam eable, i.e . a m an w ho cou ld o n ly be d efin ed , in the h o u se w hich w elcom es him , as th e h usband of h is w ife. It is clear that th e m an of honour who plays the gam e fairly can cou n t on th e b en evolen t co m p licity o f his ow n group w hen he attem p ts to d isguise as an ad option a u n io n w h ich , v iew ed cvnically, represents an inversion o f all th e honourable form s of m arriage and which, as su ch , is no less dishon ou rab le for the aw rith (" h e is the on e w h o is playing the b r id e , th ey say) than for kinsm en su fficien tly self-in terested to give their daughter to th is kind of u np aid d om estic servan t. A nd th e grou p is quick to join in the circle of the calculated lies w h ich ten d to con ceal its failure to find an h onou rab le way of savin g th e am engur from resortin g to such extrem ities in order to prevent the " b a n k ru p tcy ( lakh la) o f h is fam ily.
But the genealogies also contain cases about w hich it is hard to understand how they can benefit from similar com plicity. For exam ple, in the history of one prestigious lineage one finds a series of acquisitions of sons-in-law who are neither seen as nor declared mechrut, although their annexation was im posed not by necessity, but as part of a quasi-systematic effort to increase the capital o f m en, a fact w hich one m ight expect to double the sense of scandal. In one such case, the fact that the " ill-gotten son-in-law was a marabout no doubt lent credibility to the status of "adopted son which he was supposed to have received, although he had put him self in the position of an awrith by coming to live with his w ifes family (a sign that the latter were in a stronger position) after spending a few m onths with his own fam ily (w hich he was made to do for the sake of appearances). N evertheless, various subterfuges were resorted to in order to get over the problem of his presence in the h o u se : he was given the job of miller, which made it possible to keep him at a distance; as is customary in such c^ses, his food was brought to him at the m ill. T h en the heads o f the lineage discreetly suggested that he should take outside work, an ingenious solution w hich kept the profits of his labour w hile rem oving the em barrassing situation created by his presence in ls l i f e s fam ily. After the death of her husband, the woman remarried and had a son, whom she took back into her ow n lineage w hen her second husband died; this son was not regarded as an aw ritn, either, w hen his maternal uncles married him to j* orphan under their protection, so as to bind him to her. T h e reason was that in n nnging up their quasi-son as "their ow n s o n (though he still calls them khal and not dadda, and is called A hm ed u A gouni, after his fathers village) and marrying him o one of their quasi-daughters, they had given sufficient proof of their adherence to e official image of the aw rith as " h eir and "adopted s o n to im pose a collective


T h e objective lim its o f objectivism

recognition of it. T h is is how the second-order strategies - w hich all tend to transform useful relationships into official ones and hence to ensure that practices which in fact obey altogether different principles appear to be deduced fom the genealogical definition - achieve in addition an unexpected result, in giving a representation of practice seem ingly designed to confirm the representation the structuralist anthro pologist has of practice.

T he ordin ary and the extra-ordinary T h u s , far from o b eyin g a norm w hich w ou ld design ate an ob ligatory spouse from am on g the wT ole set o f official k in, the arrangem ent o f m arriages d epends h d irectly on the state o f the practical k insh ip relation s, relation ship s through th e m en usable by th e m en and relation ship s through the w o m en usable bv th e w om en , and on the state of the p ow er relations w ith in th e " h o u s e , that is, b etw een the lineages u n ited b y m arriage in th e p reviou s gen eration, w hich allowr and favour the cu ltivation of o n e or th e other field o f relationships. If on e accep ts that on e of the principal fu n ctio n s o f m arriage is to reproduce th e social relations of w h ich it is th e p rod u ct, then it is im m ed iately u nd er stand able w h y the different types of m arriage w h ich can b e d istin gu ish ed as m u ch b y the criterion o f th e ob jective ch aracteristics o f the groups brought togeth er (th eir p osition in th e social hierarchy, their rem oteness in sp ace, etc.) as by the characteristics of the cerem on y itself, in particular its solem n ity, sh o u ld correspond very closely to th e characteristics o f th e social relations w h ich have m ade th em p ossib le and w h ich they ten d to reprodu ce. T h e official kin grou p , p ub licly nam ed and socially recogn ized , is w hat m akes possible and necessary the official m arriages w hich provide its on ly o p p ortu n ity to m o b ilize practically and thereby to reaffirm its u n ity , a u n ity at on ce as solem n and as artificial as th e occasion s on w h ich it is celebrated. It is w ith in practical k insh ip , that is, in the field o f relation ship s constantly reused and thus reactivated for future u se, that ordinary m arriages are con tracted, w ith a freq u en cy w hich itself con d em n s th em to the in sign ifican ce o f th e unm arked and the banality of the everyday. It is logical that the h igher a group is placed in the social hierarchy and h en ce th e richer it is in official relation ship s, the greater the proportion o f its work o f reprodu ction that is d ev o ted to reprodu c ing su ch relation ship s, w hereas the poor relations, w h o have little to spend on so lem n ities, can m ake d o w ith th e ordinary m arriages that practical k inship en su res for them . T h e m ost in sid ious of the d istortion s in herent in inform ants' exp lan ations is d ou b tless the fact that they give a disproportionate im portance to extra ordinary m arriages, w h ich d istin g u ish th em selv es from ordinary m arriages by a p ositive or a negative m ark. A s wr as the various curios wr ell hich the an th ro p ologist often finds h im self b ein g offered by well-in ten tio n ed inform ants, such as m arriage by exchan ge (a b d a l, tw o m en " e x c h a n g e their sisters),

T he ord in a ry and the extra-ordinary


gjfiage b y " a d d itio n (th im i, tw o b rothers marry tw o sisters, the second sister being " a d d e d to th e first; the son marries th e sister or even the daughter of th e secon d w ife o f h is fath er), or again, the levirate, a particular case of marriage as " rep aration ( thiririth, from err, to g iv e or take back),
native discourse also d efines th e extrem e cases: parallel-cousin m arriage, the

niost perfect m yth ically, and m arriage u n itin g the h ead m en o f tw o trib es or two different clans, the m o st perfect p olitically.
Thus, the tale, a sem i-ritualized didactic narrative, a sim ple paraphrase in parabolic form of the proverb or saying w hich serves as its moral, only ever relates marked, marking marriages. First, there are the different types of parallel-cousin marriage, whether intended to preserve a political heritage or to prevent the extinction of a lineage (in the case of an only daughter). T h en there are the most flagrant misalliances, like the marriage of the tawny ow l and the eagles daughter - a pure m odel of upward marriage (upward socially, but also m ythically, up being opposed to dow n as day, light, happiness, purity, honour are opposed to night, darkness, m isfortune, im purity, and dishonour) between a man at the bottom of the social ladder, an aw rith and a woman of a fam ily of higher rank, in w hich the traditional relationship o f assistance is inverted by the discrepancy betw een the partners positions in the social and sexual hierarchies. It is the one w ho g iv es, in this case the higher, w ho must g o to the aid of the one who has taken his son-in-law, the tawny ow l, on his back, to spare him a humiliating defeat in com petition with the young eagles - a scandalous situation denounced in the proverb " giving him your daughter and corn to o *.

Contrary to th ese official represen tation s, observation and sta tistics estab lish that, in all the groups ob served , the m ajority of the m arriages b elo n g to the class of ordinary m arriages, generally arranged by th e w o m e n , w ithin the area of the practical k insh ip or practical relation ship s w hich m ake them possible and w hich they help to stren g th en .85 T h e m arriages contracted w ithin this area, b etw een fam ilies u n ited by frequ en t and ancient ex ch an ges along age-old b eaten paths con tin u ou sly kept op en for gen eration after gen era tio n , are those about w hich n o th in g is said, as w ith everyth in g wfhich can be taken for granted because it has ahvays been as it is - th ose w hich have no other function, apart from b iological rep rod u ction , than the reprodu ction of those social relationships w hich m ake them p o ssib le .8 T h e se m arriages, w hich are 6 generally celebrated w ith o u t cerem on y, stand in the sam e relation ship to extra-ordinary m arriages, wT ich are con clu d ed b y the m en b etw een different h villages or tribes, or m ore sim p ly , ou tsid e practical k insh ip , and for th is reason alw ays sealed by solem n cerem on ies, as th e exchan ges o f everyday life, th e little presen ts (thuntichin) exchan ged by w om en to " b in d them in friendship , stand to th e extra-ordinary exchan ges on special o cca sio n s, the solemn gifts solem n ly p roclaim ed (Ikhir) w h ich are exp ected b etw een official kin .8 7 Extra-ordinary m arriages ex clu d e the w om en , as d o es parallel-cousin marnag e, wr hich differs in th is respect - alone 8 - from ordinary m arriages, w hich 8


T he objective lim its o f objectivism

w ould be u nthin k able w ith o u t their in terven tio n . B u t, in contrast to marriage arranged b etw een brothers, o r at any rate a m on g the m en of the lin eage, with the b lessin g o f th e patriarch, a distant m arriage is officially p resen ted as p olitical. C ontracted o u tsid e th e zon e of everyday relation ship s, celebrated w ith cerem on ies w h ich m o b ilize exten sive gro u p s, its sole justification is p olitical, as in the lim itin g case o f th e m arriages in ten d ed to set the seal on peace or on an alliance b etw een th e " h e a d s o f tw o trib es .8 M ore o fte n , it 9 is m arriage of the m arketplace, a neutral grou n d from w h ich w o m en are exclu d ed and w here lin eages, clans, and tribes w arily m eet. It is " p u b lish e d in the m arket by th e crier (b erra k ), u nlike other m arriages w h ich , sin ce they on ly bring togeth er k in sm en , d o not in volve so lem n in vitation s. It treats the w om an as a political in stru m en t, a sort of p led g e or liquid asset, capable of earning sym b olic profits. B ein g an op p ortu n ity to ex h ib it p u b licly and officially, and hence p erfectly legitim ately, the fam ily's sy m b o lic capital, to m ake a show of k insh ip ties, and thereby to increase th is capital, at the cost o f con sid erable eco n o m ic ex p en d itu re, it is faithful at all tim es to the logic of the accum u lation of sy m b o lic capital. T h u s m arriage to a stranger w h o has been cut off from his grou p and has fled to o n e s village is sh u n n e d , w hile marriage to a stranger liv in g at a d istance is p restigiou s becau se it bears w itn ess to the extent o f th e lin eages p restige. Sim ilarly, political m arriages, as op posed to ordinary m arriages w hich follow w ell-w orn tracks, are not and cannot be repeated , sin ce th e alliance w ould be d evalued b y b ecom in g co m m on . F urth erm ore, th is typ e o f m arriage is fun d am en tally m ascu lin e and often causes conflict b etw een the father o f th e bride and her m other, w ho is less appreciative of the sy m b o lic profit w h ich the m arriage m ay b rin g and m ore con cern ed about th e draw backs it m ay entail for her daughter, co n d em n ed to a life of ex ile ( thaghribth, the ex ile, sh e w h o has g o n e off to the w est ).9 Insofar as it b rin gs large grou p s in to in terrelation sh ip through 0 the fam ilies and lineages d irectly in volved , it is totally official and every aspect of the celebration is strictly ritualized and m agically stereo ty p ed : th is is d ou b tless b ecau se the stakes are so h igh and the ch an ces of a rift so great that the agen ts dare not tru st to the regulated im provisation of orchestrated habitus.
T h e marriages arranged in the sort o f privileged sub-market (that o f the akham) which the authority of the elder and agnate solidarity set up as a free zone from which all outbidding and all com petition are absolutely excluded, unquestionably distinguish them selves from extra-ordinary marriages by their incomparably lower material and sym bolic cost. T h e union is generally regarded as a self-evident necessity, and when this is not the case, the discreet m ediation of the w om en of the fam ily is sufficient to bring it about. T h e celebration of the marriage is reduced to a strict m inim um . First, the expenses ( thaqufats) incurred in the reception of the marriage procession by the girls fam ily are very m odest; the imensi cerem ony, at w hich the bride-

T he ord in a ry an d the extra-ordin ary


alth is presented, brings together only the m ost im portant representatives o f the * * fafnilies being allied (perhaps tw enty m en) ; the brides trousseau ( la d ja z) is limit** to three dresses, tw o scarves, and som e other item s (a pair o f shoes, a haik) ; the sum agreed upon as the bridew ealth, negotiated in advance in relation to what the girls parents have to buy in the market to dower their daughter (a m attress, a illow, a trunk, as well as the blankets which are the fam ilys own work and are handed down from m other to daughter), is presented w ithout m uch cerem ony, and w ithout bluff or pretence; as for the w edding-feast expenses, they are m inim ized by arranging for the feast to coincide w ith the A id: the sheep traditionally sacrificed on that o c c a s io n is sufficient for the requirem ents of the w edding, and the guests are more likely to be kept at hom e at that time and present their excuses. Compared with these ordinary marriages, w hich the old peasant morality eulogizes (in contrast to marriages w h ich , like w id ow s daughters m arriages, go beyond the socially recognized lim its of each fam ily), extra-ordinary marriages differ in every wav. T o conceive the am bition of seeking a wife at a distance, one has to be predisposed to do so by the habit of keeping up relationships that are out of the ordinary, w hich im plies possession of the skills, especially the linguistic ones, indis pensable in such circum stances; one also needs a large capital of very costly distant relationships, w hich are the only source of reliable information and of m ediators necessary to the success of the project. In short, to be able to m obilize this capital at the right m om ent, it is necessary to have invested a lot and for a long tim e. For example, to take only one case, the heads of marabout fam ilies who have been asked to act as mediators are paid back in countless ways: the taleb of the village, or a fortiori the religious figure of higher rank who takes part in the procession of iqafafen, is given new clothes and shoes by the "m aster of the w ed d in g , and the gifts he traditionally receives, in cash at the tim e of religious feasts and in provisions at harvest time, are in a sense proportionate to the services rendered ; the A id sheep he is given that year is sim ply com pensation for the " sh a m e ( ihachem udhmis, he has covered his face with sham e) he has incurred in going to solicit a layman (w ho, whatever his power, does not "hold in h is heart Koranic know ledge) and consecrating the marriage wr ith his faith and know ledge. O nce the agreem ent is reached (possibly involving the paym ent of thaj'alts to one or another of the girls close relatives), the ceremony of " p led gin g ( asarus, the laying dowr of the pledge, thimristh)y which n functions as an appropriation rite (a'ayam , nam ing, or a'allam , marking, comparable to that of the first plot of land ploughed; or m ore exactly am lak, appropriation on the same term s as land) is in itself alm ost a w'edding. Presents are brought not only for the bride (w ho receives her " pledge , a jew'el of value, and m oney from all the men who see her on that day - tiz r i) , but also for all the other w om en o f the house; the visitors also bring provisions (sem olina, honey, butter) and som e cattle, to be slaughtered and eaten by the gu ests or added to the brides capital. T h e men of the amily demonstrate how num erous they are w ith the noise of their rifle volleys, as on the wedding day. A ll the feasts w hich take place betw een this feast and the w edding are opportunities to bring thislith her " sh are (el haq): great fam ilies at a great istance from each other cannot be content with exchanging a few dishes of couscous; Presents appropriate to the persons they unite are added. T hough granted, that is to g iv e n , "appropriated, and "recalled to m in d by the m any " sh ares she has received, the girl is not yet a cq u ired : a point o f honour is set on allowing her fam ily e time it w ishes to wait and to keep one waiting. T he celebration of the marriage is obviously the high point of the sym bolic confrontation of the two grou p s, and also the m om ent of the greatest expense, T h e glrl s fam ily is sent thaqufats, at least tw o hundred kilos of sem olina, fifty kilos of flour,


T h e objective limits o f objectivism

abundant meat (on the hoof) - w hich the senders know will not all be eaten - honev (twenty litres) and butter (tw enty litres). T h e case was mentioned of a marriage in which the girls family was taken a calf and five live and one slaughtered sheep. The delegation of iqafafen consisted, it is true, of forty rifle-bearing m en, together with all the kinsmen and notables exem pted by their age from shooting - fifty men in all. T h e brides trousseau w hich may in such cases consist of up to thirty item s, is matched by a similar number of item s given to the various other w om en of the family. And if one often hears it said that betw een great fam ilies there are no chrut (conditions laid dow n by the father for his daughter before he grants her hand), it is because the status of the fam ilies is in itself a guarantee that the "con d ition s explicitly stated elsewhere will here be surpassed. Although the value of the bridewealth is always subject to strict social supervision, exceptional marriages may ignore the lim its tacitly set by the group. T h e proof may be seen in phrases nowadays used as challenges: " Who do you think you are? T h e woman of fourteen [am arba'tach] ? - an allusion to the fourteen reals paid for the most expensively bought w ife w ho became the mistress of the house of the family which was richest and the most endow ed with men. For w om en married around 1900-1910, the same expression speaks of a payment of forty duros, w hich, according to the popular notion of equivalence ("W e got her for the equivalent of two pairs of oxen*, elhaq nasnath natsazwijin) , must have corresponded to the price paid for two pairs of oxen; just before the Second World War, a typical bridewealth was worth around tw o thousand old francs (20). A prestigious marriage celebrated with great cerem ony in 1936, to w hich virtually all the m en of the tribe were invited (together with a troupe of tbal who performed for three days and nights) cost the organizer in addition to all his liquid assets, the value of one of his best pieces of land (four days ploughing for one m an). T o feed his guests he had to slaughter tw o oxen, a calf, and six sheep. In fact the econom ic cost is probably insignificant in comparison with the symbolic cost of imensi. T h e ritual of the cerem ony of presenting the bridewealth is the occasion for a total confrontation betw een the tw o groups, in w hich the econom ic stakes are no more than an index and pretext. T o dem and a large paym ent for ones daughter, or to pay a large sum to marry off ones son, is in either case to assert ones prestige, and thereby to acquire prestige: each side intends to prove its own "worth , either by show ing what price men of honour, w ho know how to appreciate it, set on alliance w ith them , or by making a brilliant dem onstration of their estim ation of their ow n value through the price they are prepared to pay in order to have partners worthy of them . By a sort of inverted haggling, disguised under the appearance of ordinary bargaining, the two groups tacitly agree to step up the amount of the payment by successive bids, because they have a com m on interest in raising this indisputable index of the sym bolic value of their products on the matrimonial exchange market. And no feat is more highly praised than the prowess of the brides father w ho, after vigorous bargaining has been concluded, solem nly returns a large share of the sum received. T he greater the proportion returned, the greater the honour accruing from it, as itin crow ning the transaction w ith an act of generosity, the intention was to make an exchange of honour out of bargaining which could be so overtly keen only because the pursuit of maximum material profit was masked under the contests of honour and the pursuit of maxim um sym bolic profit.91

T h e m ost distant m arriages are p erfectly u nequ ivocal sin ce, at least until recent tim es, it w as im possible to marry at a d istance for negative reasons, for lack of anyone to marry near at hand. L ik e all close m arriages, p a rallel-co u sin m arriage, the on ly type o f ordinary m arriage to b e p ositively and officially

T h e ordin ary and the extra-ordin ary


marked, often occurs in the poorest lin eages or the poorest lin es o f the dominant lineages (th e clien ts), w h o , in resorting to th is, th e m ost econom ical type of u nion, release the group in the m ost satisfactory wr (if only by ay avoiding m isalliances) from the obligation to marry off tw o of its particularly disadvantaged m em bers. B ut at the sam e tim e, because it alw ays has the objective effect of rein forcin g the integration of th e m inim al unit and, consequently, its d istin ctiven ess vis-a-vis other u n its, it is likely to b e th e tactic of groups characterized by a strong desire to assert their distinction. T h u s its am biguity p redisposes it to play the role of th e poor m an s p restige m arriage: it offers an elegant w ay ou t for all those w h o, like the ruined n oblem an unable to indicate other than sym b olically his refusal to derogate, seek in the affectation o f rigour the m eans o f affirm ing their d istin ctio n , su ch as a lineage cut off from its original group and an xious to m aintain its originality, a fam ily aiming to affirm th e d istin ctive features of its lineage b y g o in g on e better in purism (alm ost alw ays the case w ith on e fam ily in a m arabout co m m u n ity ), a clan seeking to mark its d istin ction from the o p p o sin g clan b y stricter observance of the traditions (like th e A it \la d h i at Ait H ich em ), and so on. Because it can appear as the m ost sacred and, under certain co n d ition s, the most " d istingu ish ed m arriage, it is the ch eap est form of extra-ordinary marriage, obviating exp en d itu re on the cerem on y, hazardous negotiations, and a costly b ridew ealth. A nd thu s there is no m ore accom plished w ay of making a virtue of n ecessity and of p u ttin g o n eself in lin e w ith the rule. H ow ever, any particular marriage is m ean ingfu l o n ly in relation to the totality of sim u ltan eou sly p ossib le m arriages (or, m ore con cretely, in relation to the range o f potential p artners); in other w ords, it is situated som ew h ere on a con tinu um ru n nin g from parallel-cousin m arriage to m arriage b etw een members of different trib es, the m ost risky b ut m ost p restigious ty p e, and is therefore necessarily characterized from both stan d p oin ts, by the extent to which it rein forces integration and by th e exten t to w h ich it exp an ds alliances. T h ese tw o typ es o f m arriage represent the p oints of m axim um intensity of the tw o valu es w hich all m arriages seek to m axim ize: on the one hand the integration of the m inim al unit and its secu rity, on th e other hand alliance and prestige, that is, op en in g up to th e ou tsid e w orld, tow ards strangers. T h e ch oice b etw een fission and fusion, the in sid e and the ou tside, security and adventure, is posed anew w ith each m arriage. If it en su res the Maximum of integration for the m inim al group, parallel-cousin m arriage duplicates the relation ship o f filiation w ith a relationship of alliance, sq uan dering by th is redundancy the op p ortu n ity of creating new alliances w hich n^arriage represents. D istant m arriage, on the other hand, sccu res p restigious aHiances at the cost of lineage integration and the bond b etw een brothers, * e foun dation of the agnatic u n it. N ative discou rse repeats th is o b sessively.


T he objective lim its o f objectivism

T h e centripetal thrust - exaltation of the in tern al, of secu rity , autarky, the ex cellen ce o f th e b lo o d , agnate solidarity - alw ays calls forth, if o n ly to oppose it, the centrifugal thrust, exaltation of th e p restigiou s alliance. T h e categorical im perative alw ays m asks calcu lation of the m axim u m and the m in im u m , the search for th e m axim u m of alliance com p atib le w ith the m ainten an ce or rein forcem ent o f in tegration b etw een brothers. T h is can be seen from the in form an ts syn tax, w h ich is alw ays that of preference: " I t is b etter to protect your p oint o f honou r [nif\ than reveal it to o th e r s. " I d o n t sacrifice adhrum [th e lineage] to aghrum [ w h e a t c a k e ] " T h e in sid e is b etter than the o u tsid e .1 "F irst m ad n ess [daring, risky ste p ]: to g ive the daughter of 'amm to other m en . S econ d m adness to g o p en n iless to m arket. T h ird m ad n ess: to vie with the lions on th e m oun tain to p s . T h is last sayin g is the m ost significant, because u n d er the gu ise o f ab solute con d em n a tio n of d istant m arriage, it expressly recogn izes the logic in w h ich it b elon gs, that o f th e ex p lo it, prow ess, prestige. It takes great p restige and w ild audacity to go to m arket w ithout any m oney in ten d in g to b u y th in g s, just as it takes en orm ou s cou rage to take on lion s, th e cou rageous strangers from w h om the foun ders of the villages had to w in back their w iv es, accord in g to m any leg en d s o f origin.

M atrim on ial strategies an d social reproduction T h e characteristics o f a m arriage, and in particular the p o sitio n it occupies at a determ in ate point on the co n tin u u m ru n n in g from p olitical m arriage to parallel-cousin m arriage, d ep en d on th e aim s o f th e co llectiv e strategies o f the grou p s in v o lv ed . M ore p recisely, given that the ob jectives th e m selv es depend very closely on the m eans available, analysis o f the op eration s w'hich have led u p to different typ es of m arriage sen d s u s back to analysis o f the conditions w h ich had to be fulfilled for th em to be p o ssib le, i.e . con ceivab le and realizable. T h e m atrim onial gam e is sim ilar to a card gam e, in w h ich the o u tco m e d ep en d s partly on the deal, the cards held (th eir value itself being defined by th e rules of the gam e, characteristic of the social form ation in q u e stio n ), and partly on the players s k ill: that is to say, firstly on the material and sy m b o lic capital p ossessed b y the fam ilies con cern ed , th eir w ealth in in stru m en ts o f production and in m en , con sid ered both as p rod u ctive and reproductive p ow er and also, in a p revious state of play, as figh tin g strength and h en ce sy m b o lic stren gth ; and secon d ly on the co m p eten ce wr hich en ables the strategists to m ake the best u se o f this capital, practical m astery of the (in the w id est sen se) econ om ic axiom atics b ein g th e precondition for p rod u ction o f the p ractices regarded as " rea so n a b le w ith in th e group and p ositively san ction ed b y the laws o f th e m arket in m aterial and sym bolic g ood s.

M atrim on ial strategies an d social reproduction


T h e collective strategy w h ich leads up to a particular " m o v e (in the case 0f marriage or in any oth er area of practice) is b u t th e p roduct o f a com b ination 0f the strategies of the in terested parties w h ich ten d s to g iv e their resp ec tive interests the w eigh t corresp on d in g to their p ositio n , at the m o m en t in question, w ith in the stru cture of p ow er relations w ith in th e d o m estic u n it. It is a striking fact that m atrim onial n egotiation s are really th e b u sin ess of the whole group, everyon e p layin g h is part at th e appropriate m o m en t, and thu s being able to con trib u te to the su ccess or failure o f the project. First o f all, the women w ith their unofficial and recoverable con tacts m ake it p o ssib le to start semi-official n egotiation s w ith ou t th e risk of a h u m iliatin g rebuff. T h e n the most em in en t m en , th ose m ost representative o f official kinsh ip , a ctin g as guarantors exp ressly m andated by the w ill of their grou p and as ex p licitly authorized sp ok esm en , m ed iate and in terced e, p resen tin g at the sa m e tim e a striking testim on y of th e sym b olic capital p ossessed b y a fam ily capable of m obilizing such p restigiou s m en . F in ally, each grou p in its en tirety enters into the d ecision , passion ately d iscu ssin g th e m atrim onial projects, evaluatin g the reception g iv en to th e d elegates p rop osals, and d irectin g th e cou rse w h ich future n egotiations sh ou ld take. T h is m ean s, in cid en tally - for th e benefit of those eth n ologists w h o cou n t th em selves satisfied w'hen th ey have charac terized a m arriage in exclu sively gen ealogical term s - that b eh in d th e q u asi theatrical im age p u t forw ard b y the official kin at the tim e of the m arriage, the tw o grou p s carry ou t a system atic in vestigation to estab lish co m p lete information on th e variables ch aracterizing not on ly th e co u p le (age, and especially age differen ce, p revious m atrim onial h istory, sib lin g order, th eo re tical and practical kin relation to th e fam ily au th ority h old er, e tc .) but also their grou p s. Inform ation is ob tain ed on th e eco n o m ic and social history of the fam ilies about to be allied and o f the larger grou p s to w h ich they b elo n g ; the sym bolic p atrim on y, esp ecially th e capital o f h onou r and m en o f honour which they c o m m a n d ; th e q uality o f th e netw ork o f alliances on w h ich they count, and o f the grou p s to w hich th ey are traditionally o p p o sed ; each fam ilys p osition in its grou p - a particularly im portant factor b ecau se a display o f p restigiou s k in sm en m ay d isg u ise a d om in ated p osition w ith in an em inent grou p - and th e state o f its relations w ith th e other m em b ers of its group, i.e . the fam ilys d egree o f integration (u n d ivid ed o w n ersh ip , e t c .) ; the structure o f th e pow er an d authority relations w ith in the d o m estic u n it (and, f r a fam ily m arrying off a d augh ter, esp ecially th ose am ong th e w o m e n ), etc. In a social form ation oriented tow ards sim p le reprodu ction , i.e . tow ards the biological reprodu ction of the grou p and the p rod uction of su fficien t g o o d s 0r its su b sisten ce and b iological reprodu ction , and, inseparably from this, wards reprodu cing th e structure o f social and id eological relations w ith in which and through w h ich th e a ctivity o f p rod uction is carried on and le g iti


T h e objective lim its o f objectivism

m ated, th e strategies o f th e different categories of agen ts, w h o se interests w ithin the d om estic u n it m ay be con trad ictory (am on g other o ccasion s, at the tim e o f a m arriage), arise from th e system s of interests ob jectiv ely assigned to them b y the system o f p rin cip les w h ich m ake u p a particular mode 0f reproduction: th ese p rin cip les g overn fertility, filiation , resid en ce, inheritance, and m arriage, and, in c o m b in in g to fulfil th e sam e fu n ctio n - the biological and social reprodu ction o f th e grou p - are ob jectively co n ce rted .9 In an 2 eco n o m y characterized by the relatively equal d istrib u tion of th e m eans of p rod uction (gen erally o w n e d in com m on b y the lineage) and by th e weakness and stability o f th e p rod u ctive forces, w h ich rule out th e p rod uction and accum u lation of su bstan tial su rp lu ses and h en ce the d ev elo p m en t of clearly m arked eco n o m ic d ifferen tiation (alth ou gh it is p ossib le to see in th e levying o f labour in th e " m u tu a l-h elp /c o rv e es - th iw iz i - a disguised form of the sale of lab ou r-p ow er), th e fa m ily s efforts are d irected tow ards th e maintenance and reprodu ction o f th e fam ily, not the p rod u ction of assets.
If one insists on seein g thinnzi as a corvee (the better, for exam ple, to force reality into the framework of a realist, reified definition o f m odes of production) one must at least take into account the fact that this corvee is disguised under the appearance of mutual aid. In fact th iw izi mainly profits the richer farmers and also the taleb (whose land is ploughed and sow n co llectiv ely ): the poor have no need o f assistance with the harvest; but th iw izi may also benefit the poor man in the case of the building of a house (the transporting o f stones and beam s). Ostracism is a terrible sanction which is not only sym bolic: ow in g to the lim ited technical resources, m any activities would be im possible w ithout the help of the group (e .g . the building of a house, with the transporting of stones, or the transporting of m ill-w heels, which used to m obilize forty men in non-stop shifts for several days). M oreover, in this econom y of insecurity, a capital of services rendered and gifts bestowed is the best and indeed the only safeguard against the "thousand con tin gen cies*on w hich, as Marx observes, depends the maintenance or loss of working conditions, from the accident which causes the loss of an animal to the bad weather w hich destroys the crops.

In su ch co n d itio n s an ab un dan ce o f m en w ou ld n o d o u b t be a liab ility if, taking a strictly eco n o m ic view , on e saw in it on ly " a r m s and therefore " sto m a ch s. In fact th e political in secu rity w h ich perp etu ates itself b y gen erating th e d isp o sitio n s required in order to respond to w ar, brawling, robbery, or ven gean ce ( reqba) w as d ou b tless the basic reason w h y m en were valued as " r ifles , i.e . not o n ly as a labour force but also as fig h tin g power: the value of the land lies on ly in th e m en w h o cu ltivate and also d efen d itT h e patrim on y of th e lin eage, sym b o lized by its nam e, is d efined not simply by th e p ossession o f th e land and the h ou se, g o o d s w h ich are p reciou s and therefore vu lnerab le, but also by the p ossessio n of th e m ean s of protecting it, i.e . m en ; th is is s o b ecau se the land and th e w o m en are n ever r e d u c e d to th e statu s of sim p le in stru m en ts o f p rod uction or reprodu ction , and stih less to the statu s of co m m o d ities or even " p ro p er ty . A ttack s on the lan d ,

M atrim on ial strategies and social reproduction


house, or th e w om en are attacks on their m aster, on h is nif, his very ^ defined by th e g ro u p - h is " p o te n c y . A lienated land, u navenged or m urder, are different form s of the sam e offence, w h ich alw ays elicits the same response from the grou p 's p oin t of honour: just as a m urder is " paid back i but at a h igher rate, b y striking if p ossib le at the person closest to the murderer or the m ost p rom in en t m em ber in his g ro u p , so a piece of ancestral land, even a not very fertile on e, is " b ou gh t b a ck a t a n y price in

order to w ipe ou t the sta n d in g insult to the group's h o n o u r .9 Just as, in the 3
logic of challenge and riposte, th e best land b oth techn ically and sy m b olically is that m ost closely tied to the p atrim ony, so the m an through w hom on e can

m cruelly strike at the grou p is its m ost representative m em ber. ost

The ethos of honour is but the transfigured expression of these econom ic and political facts. A sharp distinction is drawn betw een n if the point of honour, and hurma, the sum total of that w hich is haram, i.e . forbidden, all that goes to make up the vulnerability of the group, its m ost sacred possession (from w hich there follows a distinction betw een the challenge, w hich touches only the point of honour, and sacrilegious outrage).94 Only the punctilious, active vigilance of the point o f honour (n if) can guarantee the integrity of honour (hurma) - w hich, being sacred, is inherently exposed to sacrilegious outrage - and win the consideration and respectability accorded to the man who has sufficient poin t of honour to keep his honour safe from offence.95 Hurma in the sense of the sacred (haram ), nif, and hurma in the sense of respectability, are inseparable. T h e more vulnerable a fam ily, the more n if it m ust possess to defend its sacred values, and the greater the m erit and esteem opinion accords i t ; thus poverty, far from contradicting or prohibiting respectability, makes doubly meritorious the man who, though particularly exposed to outrage, nonetheless manages to w in respect. Conversely, the point of honour has a m eaning and a function only in a man for whom there exist things worthy of b ein g defended. A being devoid of the sacred could dispense with the point of honour because he w ould in a sense be invulnerable. What is haram (i.e. literally, taboo) is essentially the sacred of the left hand, hurma, that ,s* ^ e inside and more precisely the fem ale universe, the world of the secret, the enclosed space of the house, as opposed to the outside, the open world of the public square (thajm afth)f reserved for the m en. T h e sacred of the right hand is essentially the rifles, that is, the group o f the agnates, the "sons of the paternal u n cle, all those whose death m ust be avenged by blood and all those who are bound to carry ut blood vengeance. T h e rifle is the sym bolic em bodim ent o f the nif of the agnatic group, nif defined as that which can be challenged and w hich enables one to take up the challenge. T h u s to the passivity of hurma, fem ale in nature, there is opposed the ^ctive susceptibility of nif, the m ale virtue par excellence. It is ultim ately on nif, its 'physical or sym bolic) fighting capacity, that the defence of the groups material and symbolic patrimony - the source both o f its potency and of its vulnerability depends.

M en con stitu te a political and sy m b o lic force on w h ich d ep en d the p rotec*,Qn and exp an sion of th e p atrim on y, the d efen ce o f the grou p and its good s against the en croach m en ts of violen ce, and at the sam e tim e the im p osition its dom in ance and th e satisfaction of its in terests. C o n seq u en tly , th e o n ly reat to the pow er of th e grou p , apart from th e sterility of its w o m e n , is the


The objective lim its o f objectivism

fragm en tation of the m aterial and sy m b o lic p atrim on y w h ic h w ould result from quarrels b etw een th e m en . H e n c e th e fertility strategies w h ich aim to p rod u ce as m an y m en as p ossib le as q u ick ly as p o ssib le (th rou gh early m arriage), and th e ed u cative strategies w h ich , in in cu lca tin g an exalted a d h eren ce to th e lineage and to th e v alu es o f h on ou r (th e transfigured exp ression o f the ob jective relation b etw e en th e agen ts an d an extremely vu lnerab le and p erp etu ally threaten ed m aterial and sy m b o lic patrim ony) collaborate to su pp ort th e in tegration of th e lin eage and to divert aggressive ten d e n c ies ou tw ard s: " T h e land is cop p er ( nehas), m e n s arm s are silver." T h e very am b ig u ity of th is say in g - nehas also m ean s jealou sy - p o in ts to the p rin cip le of th e con trad iction w h ich th e su ccessio n a l cu sto m en gen d ers in attaching m en to the land. T h e su ccessio n a l stra teg ies, w h ich ob jectively tend to attach as m an y m en as p o ssib le to th e p atrim on y by en su rin g eq u ality of in h eritan ce and b y gu aran teein g the u n ity o f th e patrim ony through the d isin h eritin g o f th e w o m e n , in trod u ce an u n a v o id a b le co n tra d ictio n : n ot only d o th ey threaten to fragm en t th e ancestral lands by p arcelling th em out eq u ally am on g very n u m erou s h eirs, b u t ab o v e all th ey set at the very heart of th e sy stem the p rin cip le of co m p etitio n for p ow er over th e domestic ec o n o m y and p olitics - co m p etitio n an d con flict b etw een father and sons, wr o m th is m o d e o f pow er tran sm ission c o n d em n s to su b ord in ation so long h as the patriarch lives (m an y p arallel-cou sin m arriages are arranged by th e "old m an w ith o u t th e fathers b ein g c o n s u lte d ); co m p etitio n and conflict between b rothers or co u sin s w h o , at least w h en th e y in their turn b eco m e fath ers, are d estin ed to find that th eir in terests c o n flic t .9 T h e strategies of agnates are 6 d om in ated b y the an tagon ism b etw een th e sy m b o lic p rofits of p olitical and ec o n o m ic n on -d ivision and th e m aterial profits o f a breakup w h ich are con tin u a lly recalled to m in d b y th e sp irit o f ec o n o m ic ca lcu la tio n . T h e urge to calcu late, repressed in m en , find s m ore overt ex p ressio n in w o m e n , who are stru ctu rally pred isp osed to be less con cern ed w ith the sy m b o lic profits accru in g from political u n ity , and to d ev o te th e m se lv e s m ore readily to strictly ec o n o m ic practices.
T h e ideology which makes wom an a principle of division and discord th u s finds an apparent basis in the effects of the division of labour betw een the sexes, w h ic h , as we have seen, predisposes the w om en to be less sensitive to sym bolic profits and freer to pursue material profits.97 L en d in g b etw een w om en is regarded as the antithesis of the exchange of honour; and it is indeed closer to the econom ic :ruth of exchange than the m en s dealings. O f th e man w ho, unlike the man of honour anxious not squander his capital of "c r e d it, too readily seeks loans, especially of m on ey, the matf w ho has so often blanched w ith sham e on asking for a loan that he has a "yellow face . it is said that " his borrowing ( arrtal) is like that of w o m e n *. T h e opposition between the two " econom ies is so marked that th e expression err arrtal, also used to e x p r e s s the taking of revenge, means the returning o f a g ift, an exchange, in the m en s s p e e c h whereas it m eans "giving back a lo a n w hen used by the w om en. Loan c o n d u c t

M atrim on ial strategies an d social reproduction


1 * more frequent and more natural am ong the w om en, w ho w ill borrow and certai . . jor any pUrpose; it follow s that the econom ic truth, held back in lend c joser t0 t he surface in fem ale exchanges in w hich there may be specific svvaP o r r e p a y m e n t (" when m y daughter gives birth ) and precise calculation of the
quantities lent.

In sh o r t, the sym bolic an d politica l in terests attached to th e unity o f land ow n ersh ip , to the exten t of allian ces, to th e m aterial and sy m b o lic p ow er o f the agnatic g r o u p , and to th e valu es o f h on ou r and p restig e w h ich m ake a ^reat h o u se ( akham am oqrane), m ilitate in favour of th e stren g th en in g of corporate b o n d s . C on versely, as is sh o w n b y th e fact that th e breaking u p of joint o w n e r sh ip h as b eco m e m ore and m ore freq u en t w ith the g en eralizin g of m on etary exch an ges and th e spread o f the (corresp o n d in g ) calcu lative spirit, economic in terests (in th e narrow s e n s e ), th o se relatin g to co n su m p tio n , are c o n d u c iv e to the breakup of u n d iv id ed o w n e rsh ip .9 8 E ven in cases in w h ich a h older of d o m e stic p ow er has lo n g prepared for his su c c e ssio n by th e m anip ulation of in d ivid u al asp iration s, d irectin g each of the b ro th ers tow ards th e " s p e c ia lity w h ich su ited h im in the d iv isio n of d om estic labour, com p etition for internal p ow er is alm ost in evitab le, and can be su b lim a ted in to a co m p etitio n of h on ou r on ly at th e co st o f co n tin u o u s control b y th e m en over th e m se lv e s and b y th e g rou p ov er all of th e m . B ut the forces o f coh esion represen ted b y th e n o n -d iv isio n o f th e land and the in tegration of th e fam ily - in stitu tio n s w h ich rein force each other - clash con stantly w ith forces of fission su ch as th e " je a lo u sy arou sed by an u nequ al d istrib u tion of powr ers or resp o n sib ilities, or th e im b alan ce b etw een resp ective co n trib u tio n s to p rod u ction and co n su m p tio n (" T h e hard -w ork in g m a n s labour has b een eaten u p b y th e m an w h o lean s against th e w a ll ).99 In general, au th ority over th e d eleg a tio n of w ork, th e con tro l o f exp en d itu re and the m anagem ent of the p atrim on y, or over the fam ily's external relation s (alliances, e tc .) resid es in fact in a sin gle p erso n , w h o th u s appropriates the sy m b o lic

profits wr ich h

accrue from g o in g to m arket, p resen ce at

lan assem b lies or th e m ore excep tion al g a th erin gs o f tribal n otab les, etc . nt to m en tion th e fact that th ese d u ties have the effect of e x e m p tin g tta person w h o assu m es th em from th e ex ig en cie s o f th e daily w ork
rou tine.

O bjectively u n ited , for th e w orse if n o t for th e b etter, th e b rothers are o b je c tiv e ly d iv id ed , even in their solid arity. " M y b r o th e r , said an informant, is th e m an wT o w o u ld d efen d m y h on ou r if m y p o in t o f h onour failed , h Wh w u ld save m e from d ish o n o u r but p u t m e to sh a m e . A n oth er in form an t reported an acq u aintance as sa y in g : " M y brother is h e w h o , if I d ie d , cou ld I^arry m y w ife and w ou ld b e praised for i t . T h e h o m o g e n e ity o f th e m ode

0 Production o f h abitus ( i.e . of th e m aterial co n d itio n s of life , and o f


The objective lim its o f objectivism

ped agogic action) p rod uces a h om ogen ization of d isp o sitio n s and in terests w h ich , far from exclu d in g com p etition , m ay in so m e cases en g en d er it by in clin in g th ose w h o are the product of th e sam e co n d itio n s of production to recogn ize and pursue the sam e g o o d s, w h ose rarity m ay arise en tirely from this com p etitio n . T h e d om estic u n it, a m o n o p o listic grou p ing defined, as W eber said, b y the exclu sive appropriation o f a determ in ate type o f goods (land , nam es, e tc .) is the locus o f a co m p etitio n for th is capital, or rather, for con trol over th is capital, w hich co n tin u o u sly threatens to d estroy the capital b y d estroyin g th e fundam ental con d itio n of its p erp etu ation . T h e relationship b etw een brothers, k eystone o f the fam ily structure, is also its w eakest p oint, w hich a w h ole series o f m echan ism s are d esign ed to su pp ort and stren gth en ,100 startin g w ith parallel-cousin m arriage, the ideolo gical resolu tion, som etim es realized in practice, o f the specific contradiction o f this mode o f reproduction. If p arallel-cou sin marriage is a m atter for m e n ,101 con sisten t w ith the m en s in terests, that is, the h igher interests of th e lineage, o ften arranged w ith o u t the w om en b ein g in form ed , and against their w ill (w hen th e tw o b rothers w iv es are on bad term s, on e not w anting to a d m it the others d augh ter to her h ou se and th e other n o t w ish in g to place her daughter under her sister-in -law s au th ority), the reason is that it is in tend ed to counteract, p ractically, d ivision b etw een the m en . T h is is taken so m uch for granted that th e fathers ritual advice to h is son (" D o n t listen to your w iv es, stay united am ongst y o u r se lv e s!) is naturally taken to m ean "M arry you r ch ild ren to o n e a n oth er. E verything takes places as if th is social form ation had had to grant itself officially a p ossib ility rejected as in cestu o u s by m ost so cieties, in order to resolve id eologically the ten sion w h ich is at its very centre. P erhaps the exaltation of m arriage w ith the ben'amm (parallel cou sin ) w ould have been better u nd erstood if it had been realized that ben amm has co m e to designate th e en em y , or at least, the in tim ate en em y , and that en m ity is called thaben'ammts "that of th e ch ildren of the paternal u n c le . In fact, the forces o f ideological coh esion are em b od ied in the elder, djedd, w h ose authority based o n the pow er to d isin h erit, on the threat of m aled iction , and above all on adherence to the values sym b olized b y th adjadith, can secu re equilibrium b etw een th e b rothers o n ly by m aintain in g th e strictest eq u ality b etw een them (and their w iv es) both in w ork (th e w o m e n , for exam p le, taking turns to do th e h ousew ork, prepare the m eals, carry w ater, etc .) and in co n su m p tio n . It is no accid en t that crisis so often coin cid es w ith the disappearance of this p ositive coh esive factor, arising w h e n the father d ies leaving adult so n s n on e o f w h om w ield s a clear estab lish ed au th ority (b y virtue o f th e age gap or


other p rin c ip le ). But the extrem ely variable relative strength of the te n d e n c ie s to fu sion or fission d ep en d s fu n d am en tally, at th e level o f the d o m estic u n it

M atrim on ial strategies and social reproduction


m uch as at th e level o f larger u n its like the clan or th e trib e, on the elationship b etw een the grou p and the external u n its: in secu rity provides a negative principle of coh esion capable of m aking up for the d eficien cy of
o sitive p rin cip les.102" I hate m y brother, but I hate the m an w h o hates h im . T h e n eg a tiv e, fo rced solid arity created by a shared vu ln era b ility , w hich is reinforced every tim e th ere is a threat to the jointly ow ned m aterial and svm bolic p atrim ony, rests o n the sam e prin cip le as the d iv isiv e ten d e n c y w hich

it tem p ora rily thw arts, that o f th e rivalry b etw een agnates. S o , from the
u n d ivid ed fam ily up to th e largest political units., the co h esio n en d lessly exalted b y the m yth ological and genealogical ideology lasts no lon ger than the pow er r ela tio n s capable o f h o ld in g in dividu al in terests togeth er. H avin g restated the p rin cip les w hich define the system s of in terests of the different ca te g o r ie s of a gen ts in the d om estic pow er relations w h ich result in the d efin itio n o f a co llectiv e m atrim onial strategy, if w e now p o sit that the more th e w orking o f th e sy stem serves the agen ts in terests, the m ore they are inclined to serve the w orking of the system , w e are able to u nd erstan d the fundam ental p rin cip les o f th e strategies w h ich are con fron ted o n the occasion of a m a rria g e.103 T h o u g h it is true that marriage is on e of th e principal o p p ortu n ities to con serve, in crease, or (b y m isalliance) d im in ish the capital of au th ority conferred b y stron g integration and th e cap ital of p restige stem m in g from an ex ten siv e netw ork o f affines ( nesba), the fact rem ains that the m em b ers of the d om estic u nit w h o take part in arranging th e marriage do not all id e n tify their o w n interests to the sam e degree w ith th e collective interest o f the lineage. As the products of elaborate strategies, of which more is expected than sim ple biological reproduction, i.e. external or internal alliances intended to reproduce the domestic and political power relations, marriages are a sort of short-term and long-term investment in, am ong other th in gs, the quality of the "maternal u n cles they procure. It is understandable that they cannot be lightly dissolved, the most long-standing and prestigious relationships naturally being best protected against an ill-considered break. If repudiation becom es inevitable, then all sorts of subterfuges are resorted to so as to prevent the total loss of the capital of alliances. T h e husbands relatives may go and heg the w ifes relatives to give her back, attributing the divorce to the youth, recklessness, thoughtless ch oice of w ords, and irresponsibility of a husband too young to appreciate the value of alliances; it is pointed out that he did not pronounce the ormula three tim es, but only once, im petuously, and without w itnesses. T h e divorce ecomes a case of thutchha (the wife w ho lost her temper and w ent home to her relatives); there may even be th e offer of a new w edding (w ith imensiand a trousseau). the repudiation proves to be final, there are several ways of "separating : the greater the importance and solem nity of the marriage, the more one has " in v ested *n, *he more one has therefore an interest in preserving relations w ith those from Whorn one is separating (either out of kinship or neighbourhood solidarity, or out tK Se^ *nterested calculation), and the greater the discretion of the break; return of e bridewealth is not dem anded im m ediately, nor is the return refused (" free


T h e objective lim its o f objectivism

repudiation - battal - being a grave in su lt); it m ay not even be expected until the woman remarries; not too m uch attention is paid to the precise am ount, and witnesses especially outsiders, are kept away from the divorce settlem ent.

T h e in h eritan ce tradition w h ich exclu d es w om an from th e h eritage, the m yth ic w orld -v iew w h ich accord s her o n ly a lim ited ex iste n c e and never grants her full participation in th e sy m b o lic capital o f her ad o p tiv e lineage, th e sexual d iv isio n of labour w h ich restricts her to d o m estic tasks leaving the representational fu n ctio n s to th e m an - ev ery th in g co m b in es to id en tify the in terests o f th e m en w ith the m aterial and particularly the sy m b o lic interests o f the lin eage ; all th e m ore so , th e greater th e m e n s au th ority in th e agnatic grou p . A nd th e typ ically m ascu lin e m arriages - parallel-cou sin and political m arriages - testify u n am b ig u o u sly to the fact that m en s in terests are more d irectly id en tified w ith th e official in terests o f th e lin eage, and that their strategies are m ore d irectly d esig n ed to rein force th e d o m estic u n its integra tion or th e fa m ily s n etw ork of alliances, con trib u tin g in b oth cases to the g row th o f the lin ea g es sy m b o lic capital. A s for th e w o m e n , it is n o accid en t that th e m arriages for w h ich they are resp on sib le fall in to th e class of ordinary m arriages, or m ore p recisely , that th ey are left resp on sib ility on ly for unrem arkable, u ncerem onial m arriages .10 4 B ein g exclu d ed from representational k in sh ip , th e y are th row n back on to practical k insh ip and practical u ses of k in sh ip , in v estin g m ore econom ic realism (in th e narrow se n se ) than th e m en in th e search for a partner for their so n s or d a u g h ters .105 M ale and fem ale in terests are m o st likely to d iverge w hen a daughter is to be m arried. N o t only is th e m oth er less sen sitive to th e " fam ily in te r e st w h ich ten d s to see the d augh ter as an instrument for stren g th en in g th e in tegration o f th e agnatic g ro u p , or as a sort o f sy m b o lic m on ey a llo w in g p restigiou s alliances to be set up w ith other g ro u p s; b ut also, in m arrying her daughter in to her ow n lin eage and in ten sify ing th e ex ch an ges b etw een th e grou p s, sh e ten d s to stren g th en her own p osition in th e d om estic u n it. T h e m arriage o f a son raises for th e m istress o f th e h ou se first and forem ost th e q u estion o f her d om in an ce over the d o m estic eco n o m y . H er in terest is o n ly n egatively adjusted to that o f the lin eage: in taking a d au gh ter from th e fam ily sh e herself cam e from , sh e is fo llo w in g th e path traced b y th e lin eage, and a con flict a m o n g th e w om en resu ltin g from a bad ch o ice w ou ld u ltim ately threaten th e u n ity o f th e agnatic g rou p . T h e in terest o f th e m en , alw ays d o m in an t officially and te n d in g alw ays to b e so in reality, im p oses itself all the m ore fu lly th e stron ger th e integration of th e agn atic grou p and th e m ore nearly equal (at least) th e fa th ers lineage is to th e m o th ers in th e social hierarchy. It is n o exaggeration to claim that th e g ro u p s w h ole m atrim onial h istory is p resen t in the internal transactions

M a trim on ial strategies an d social reproduction


0ver each in ten d ed m arriage. T h e lin ea g es in terest, i.e . the m ale in terest, requires that a m an sh o u ld n ot b e placed in a su b ord in ate p o sitio n in th e fam ily bv b e in g m arried to a girl of m arkedly h igh er statu s (a m an, they say, can raise a w om an , b u t n ot th e o p p o site; y o u give - a d augh ter - to a su perior or an e q u a l, yo u take - a d au gh ter - from an in ferior). It has m ore chance of assertin g itself if th e m an w h o has th e resp on sib ility (at least th e official

responsibility) for th e m arriage has not h im self b een m arried ab ove h is sta tu s.
In fact, a w h ole set of m ech an ism s, in clu d in g th e b rid ew ealth and th e w ed d in g exp en ses, w h ich rise in p rop ortion to the p restige o f th e m arriage, tend to ex clu d e alliances b etw een grou p s too u nequ ally m atched in term s of econ om ic and sy m b o lic capital (th e freq u en t cases in w h ich the fam ily o f on e sp ouse is rich in on e form o f capital - e .g . in m en - w hereas th e other p o ssesses rather th e other form of w ealth - e .g . land - are n o ex c ep tio n s to

this): " M en ally w ith their e q u a ls , th e sa y in g g o es


( " tsnassaben (naseb)

widh m'adhalen).

In short, th e stru cture of ob jective relation s b etw een th e kin w h o m ake th e matrimonial d ecisio n , as m an or w om an or as m em ber o f th is or that lin eage, helps to d efine th e stru ctu re of relation sh ip s b etw een th e lin eages u n ited by the proposed m arriage .106 In fact it w ou ld be m ore accurate to say that the determ inant relation ship , b etw een th e lin eage o f th e person to b e m arried and the lineage offerin g a p ossib le partner, is alw ays m ed iated by th e d o m estic power structure. In d eed , in o rd er to d e scr ib e co m p letely th e m u lti-d im en sio n a l and m u lti-fu n ction al relation ship (irred u cib le to k insh ip ties) b etw een th e tw o groups, it is n ot sufficient to take in to accou n t o n ly th e spatial, eco n o m ic, and social d istan ce b etw een th em at th e m om en t of m arriage in term s of econom ic and sy m b o lic capital (m easured b y th e n u m b er of m en and o f m en of honour, b y th e d egree of in tegration of th e fam ily , e t c .) . W e m u st also take into con sid eration th e state, at that particular tim e, o f th e b alan ce-sh eet of their m aterial and sy m b o lic ex ch an ges, i.e . th e w h o le h istory o f th e official, extra-ordinary ex ch an ges su ch as m arriages b rou ght ab out or at least co n se crated b y the m en , and also th e u nofficial, ordinary ex ch a n g es co n tin u o u sly carried o n b y th e w o m en w ith th e co m p lic ity o f th e m en and so m etim es w ithout th eir k n ow led ge, a m ed iation through w h ich th e o b jectiv e relations predisposing tw o grou p s to com e tog eth er are prepared for and realized.
Whereas econom ic capital is relatively stable, sym bolic capital is relatively pre v i o u s : the death of a prestigious head of the fam ily is som etim es enough to dim inish severely. Fluctuations in the groups sym bolic fortunes are follow ed by corresponding changes in the w hole im age of itself w hich the group aim s to present, afld in the objectives - alliance or integration - w hich it sets for its marriages. T h u s the space of tw o generations, a great fam ily, w hose econom ic situation was in fact ^proving, declined from male marriages - marriages w ithin the close kin or extraurtnary marriages (arranged by m en, outside the usual area, for purposes of alliance)


T he objective limits o f objectivism

- to ordinary marriages, generally set up by the w om en, w ithin their own network of relationships. T h is change in m atrimonial policy coincided w ith the deaths of the two eldest brothers (H ocin e and L aid ), the long absence of the oldest men (w ho had gone to France), and the weakening of the authority o f thamgarth, who had become blind, with real power passing into the hands of Boudjemaa and, intermittently, A thm an. Because it is not clear w ho is to succeed thamgarth, the wom an who imposes order and silence ( ta'a n thamgarth, da susm i"obedience to the old wom an is silen ce ) the structure of relations betw een the wives reflects the structure of relations between the husbands, leaving vacant the position o f m istress of the house; in such c ir c u it stances, marriages tend to go tow ards the w om ens respective lin eages.107

T h e structural ch aracteristics gen ericallv d efin in g the value of a lineages prod ucts on th e m atrim onial m arket are ob v io u sly sp ecified by secondary ch aracteristics su ch as the m atrim onial statu s of th e person to be married, h is or her age, se x , etc. T h u s th e gro u p s m atrim onial strategies and the type of m arriage w hich m ay result from th em are q uite different d ep en d in g on w heth er the m an to be m arried is a b ach elor " o f th e m arrying a g e or has already "p assed the a g e , or w h eth er he is an already m arried m an looking for a co-w ife, or a w id ow er or d ivorcee w antin g to rem arry (w ith th e situation ch an gin g further d ep en d in g on w heth er or not he has ch ild ren from his first m arriage). F or a girl the p rin cip les o f variation are th e sam e, w ith the d ifferen ce that the depreciation en tailed by p reviou s m arriages is infinitely greater (becau se of the price p u t on virginity and in sp ite of the fact that a reputation as a " m an w h o repu d iates is just as dam agin g as that o f a " woman to be r e p u d ia te d ).
T h is is only one aspect of the dyssvm m etry betw een the situation of the man and the woman before marriage: " T h e m an , runs the saying, "is always a man, whatever his state [unlike the wom an, w ho can disqualify herself, and cast herself into shame, <d]; it is up to him to ch o o se. H aving the strategic initiative, he can afford to wait: r he is sure to find a w ife, even if h e has to pay the price of his delay by marrying a woman w ho has already been m arried, or is of lower social status, or has some disability. T h e girl being the one traditionally "asked fo r and " g iv e n in marriage, it w ould be the height of absurdity for a father to solicit a husband for his daughter. A nother difference is that "the man can wait for the woman [to be of age] but the woman cannot wait for the m a n : the father with daughters to marrv can play with tim e so as to prolong the conjunctural advantage he derives from his position as the receiver of offers, but only up to a certain point, or he will see his products d e v a l u e d because they are thought to be unsaleable, or sim ply because they are past their prime. One of the most im portant constraints on matrimonial strategies is the urgency ot marriage, w hich obviously weakens the agents position. A m ong the reasons for hurrying the marriage, there m ay be the great age of the parents, w ho hope to see their son married and to have a daughter-in-law to look after them , or the fear of seeing a girl they had counted on g ettin g being given to som eone else (to avoid this happening, the parents "present a slip p er, thus "m arking the girl at a very early age, and som etim es even have the fatxha recited). An only son is also married young* so that he can continue the lineage as quickly as possible. T h e sym bolic profit accruing from remarrying after a divorce before the ex-spouse does so often leads both

M a tiim o n ia l strategies an d social reproduction


seS to arrange hasty marriages (such marriages are unlikely to remain stable, which plains why som e men seem " con d em n ed to marry many tim es). But there is great avssymmetry on this point too: a man, divorced or w idow ed, is expected to remarry, 'hereas a divorced wom an is devalued by the failure of her marriage, and a w idow , even a very young on e, is excluded from the m atrimonial market by her status as a pother expected to bring up her husbands ch ild , especially if it is a boy ("a woman c a n n o t remain - a w idow - for the sake of another woman is the saying applied to a w id o w w ho, only having daughters, is encouraged to remarry, whereas a mother 0f 50ns is praised for her sacrifice, which is all the more meritorious if she is young a n d thus liable to have to live as an outsider am ong her husbands sisters and her h u s b a n d s brothers w ives). But her situation varies further depending on whether she h a s "left her children with her deceased husbands fam ily or gone back to her own family with her children (in which case she is less free and hence harder to marry o f f ) - A n interesting option arises: she may either be taken to w ife by som eone in her h u s b a n d s fam ily (the official practice, particularly recom m ended if she has sons) or be found a new husband by her fathers fam ily (w hich happens more often w hen she is childless) or by her husband's fam ily. It is difficult to establish the universe of v a r ia b le s (doubtless including local traditions) determ ining the " ch o ice of one or the other of these strategies.

But it m u st also be borne in m ind , contrary to the tradition w h ich treats each marriage as an isolated u n it, that th e m arrying of each o f the ch ildren of the sam e fam ily u n it ( i.e . the children o f the sam e father, or in som e cases the grandchildren o f the sam e grandfather) d ep en d s on the m arrying of all the others and th u s varies as a fu n ction o f each c h ild s position (defin ed m ainly by sib lin g order, sex , and relationship to th e head o f the fa m ily ), w ith in the particular configuration of the w hole set of ch ild ren to be m arried, itself characterized b y their n um ber and se x . T h u s , for a m an th e situ ation is m ore favourable the closer his kin relation ship to the statutory holder o f authority over the m arriage (w h ich m ay range from so n -fa th e r to you nger b ro th e relder brother, or even the relation ship b etw e en distant co u sin s). M oreover, although there is no official recogn ition o f an y p rivilege for the eldest (o f the boys, o f co u rse), everyth in g con sp ires to favou r him to th e d etrim en t o f his younger brothers, to marry him first and as w ell as p ossib le, that is, o u tsid e rather than inside th e lin eage, the yo u n g er b rothers b ein g d estin ed for Production rather than th e exchanges o f th e m arket or assem b ly, for work on the land rather than the h o u ses external p o litics. H is p o sitio n is, how ever, ver)r different d ep en d in g on w h eth er he is the eld est o f several so n s, or the bearer of all h is fa m ily s h opes as an on ly so n or on e follow ed b y several daughters .108 T h e fam ily w ith m any d au gh ters, especially if th ey are poorly Protected (by son s) and hence little valu ed b ecau se vu lnerab le and prom islr*g few allies, is in an u nfavourable p o sitio n and finds itself forced to incur debts tow ards the fam ilies w h ich receive its w o m en . In con trast, a fam ily rich ln m en has considerable room for m a n o e u v r e : it can ch o o se to in vest each f its son s differently accord in g to circu m stan ces, to increase its alliances w ith


T h e objective lim its o f objectivism

o n e o f th e m , to stre n g th e n its in tegration w ith an oth er, to p u t a co u sin ^ o n ly has d au g h ters u n d er an o b ligation b y tak in g o n e of h is g irls for a third ^ In th is case, th e stra teg ists sk ill can h ave free rein and can effortlessly re co n cile th e irrecon cilab le, b oth rein fo rcin g in teg ra tio n an d expanding a llia n ces. T h e m an w h o o n ly has d a u gh ters, or has to o m a n y o f them ,

restricted to n egative strategies, and h is sk ill has to b e lim ited to th e manip, u lation o f th e rela tio n sh ip b etw e en th e field o f p oten tial p artners and th e field o f p o ten tia l co m p etito rs, p la y in g off th e " n e a r against th e " d ista n t , the req u est o f a clo se k in sm an again st that o f a stranger (in o rd er to refuse w ith o u t o ffen ce or m ake h im w ait) in su ch a w ay as to reserve th e pow er to op t for th e m o st p restigiou s alternative. It w ill d o u b tle ss h ave b eco m e clear h o w artificial it is to distinguish b e tw e e n th e en d s and th e m ean s of c o llec tiv e m atrim on ial stra teg ies. Ever}', th in g takes place as if, o b je ctiv ely o rien ted tow ard s th e rein fo rcin g or in crea sin g o f in tegration w ith in th e lim its o f th e m a in ten a n ce of allian ces (or th e reverse) th e se strategies d ep en d e d for th eir lo g ic and th eir efficacy o n the m aterial and sy m b o lic cap ital o f th e social u n it in q u e stio n , i.e . n o t o n ly on th e v a lu e o f its m aterial h eritage b u t also on its sy m b o lic h erita g e, w h ic h itself d e p e n d s first on th e size and in tegration o f th e agnatic g ro u p (m arked b y the jo in t p rod u ction and co n su m p tio n o f m aterial g o o d s) an d se co n d ly on its cap ital o f allian ces, b o th th e se form s o f sy m b o lic capital o b v io u sly depending on th e w h o le m atrim on ial h isto ry . It fo llo w s th a t every m arriage tends to rep rod u ce th e co n d itio n s w h ic h have m ad e it p o ssib le .110 M atrim on ial strate g ie s, o b jectiv ely d irected tow ard s the con serv a tio n or ex p a n sio n of th e material and sy m b o lic capital jo in tly p o ssessed b y a m ore or less ex te n d ed group, b e lo n g to th e sy stem o f rep rod u ction stra teg ies, d efin ed as th e su m total of th e stra teg ies th rou gh w h ic h in d iv id u a ls or g ro u p s o b jectiv ely ten d to repro d u c e th e relation s of p ro d u c tio n associated w ith a d eterm in a te m o d e of p ro d u c tio n b y striv in g to rep rod u ce or im p ro v e their p o sitio n in th e social str u c tu r e .111 T h is takes us a lo n g w ay from th e p ure - b eca u se in fin itely i m p o v e r i s h e d - realm o f the " ru les of m a rria g e and th e " elem en ta ry stru ctu res of k in s h ip H a v in g d efin ed th e sy ste m o f p rin cip les from w h ich th e a g en ts are a b le to p ro d u c e regu lated and regular m atrim on ial p ractices and to understand p ractically th e m atrim on ial p ractices of oth er a g en ts, w e co u ld u se statistical a n alysis o f th e relevant in form ation to estab lish th e w eig h t o f th e corresp ond ' in g stru ctural or in d ivid u al variables. In fact, th e im p o rta n t th in g is th a t the a g e n ts p ractice b e c o m e s in te llig ib le as so o n as o n e can co n stru ct th e systerfl of th e p rin cip les and o f th e law s of co m b in a tio n of th o se p rin cip les (or, to p u t it an oth er w ay, th e sy stem of variab les and op erators) w h ich th e y put in to p ractice w h en th e y id en tify im m ed ia tely th e in d iv id u a ls so cio -lo g ica lly

M a trim o n ia l strategies a n d social reproduction

7 i

inatc * f n wlt ^

hable in a g iven state of th e m atrim on ial m ark et, or m o r e p rec ise ly , w h e n , n t0 a particular m a n , th ey d esig n a te, for ex a m p le, th e few w o m en oractical k in sh ip w h o are in so m e se n se prom ised to h im an d th o se w h o m u |cj at a stretch b e p erm itted to m arry - and d o s o in su ch a clear and

I wav that any d ev ia tio n from th e m o st lik ely c o u rse, m arriage in to tribe for ex a m p le, is felt as a ch a lle n g e to th e fa m ily co n cern ed , and


also to the w h ole grou p .

S tru c tu re s and the h ab itu s

M eth od ological o b jectivism , a necessary m om en t in all research, by the break w ith prim ary exp erien ce and th e con stru ction of ob jective relations w hich it accom p lish es, d em and s its ow n su p ersession . In ord er to escap e the realism o f the structure, w h ich h ypostatizes system s of ob jective relations b y converting them in to totalities already con stitu ted ou tsid e o f in d iv id u a l h istory and group h istory, it is necessary to pass from th e opus operatum to the modus operandi, from statistical regularity or algebraic structure to the p rin cip le o f the produc tion of th is ob served order, and to con stru ct the theory of p ractice, or, more p recisely, th e theory of the m od e of gen eration of practices, w hich is the p recon d ition for estab lish in g an exp erim en tal scien ce o f the dialectic o f the internalization o f extern ality and the extem a liza tio n o f \n tem a lity, or, more sim p ly, o f in corporation an d ob jectification .

A false dilem m a: mechanism an d finalism T h e stru ctu res con stitu tiv e o f a particular typ e o f en v iro n m en t (e.g . the m aterial co n d itio n s of existen ce characteristic of a class co n d itio n ) produce habitus, sy stem s o f d urable, transposable dispositions/ stru ctured structures p red isp osed to fu n ctio n as stru cturin g stru ctu res, that is, as p rin cip les o f the generation an d stru ctu rin g o f practices and represen tation s w h ich can be ob jectively " re g u la ted &nd " regu lar w ith ou t in any w ay b ein g th e product o f o b ed ien ce to ru les, ob jectively adapted to th eir g o a ls w ith o u t presupposing a co n scio u s aim in g at en d s or an exp ress m astery of th e op eration s necessary to attain th e m and, b ein g all th is, co llectiv ely orchestrated w ith o u t being the product of th e orchestratin g action o f a con d u ctor. E ven w h e n th ey appear as the realization of the ex p lic it, an d explicitly stated, p u rp oses of a project or p lan, th e p ractices p ro d u ced b y the habitus, as the strategy-gen eratin g p rin cip le en ab lin g agen ts to cop e w ith unforeseen and ev er-ch an gin g situ ation s, are on ly apparently d eterm in ed b y th e future.

If th ey se e m d eterm in ed b y an ticip ation of their o w n co n seq u en ces, thereby

en cou raging the finalist illu sio n , th e fact is that, alw ays ten d in g to reproduce th e ob jective structures of w h ich th ey are th e p ro d u ct, they are determined b y the past co n d itio n s w h ich have p rod uced the p rin cip le of th eir prod uction ,

[ 72 1

A fa lse dilem m a: mechanism an d finalism


is by th e actual ou tcom e o f id en tical or in terchan geab le past p ractices, hich coin cid es w ith their ow n ou tco m e to th e exten t ( and on ly to the extent) that the ob jective stru ctu res of w h ich th ey are the p rod uct are p rolon ged in the structures w ith in w h ich th ey fu n ctio n . T h u s, for exam p le, in the interaction b etw een tw o agen ts or grou p s of agents en d o w ed w ith the sam e habitus (say A and B ), everyth in g takes p lace as if the a ctio n s of each of them (say ai f r w ere organ ized in relation to the reaction s th ey call forth from any agent p o ssessin g the sam e h abitus (say, b i, B s reaction to ai) so that they objectively im p ly an ticip ation of th e reaction w h ich th e se reactions in turn call forth (say a2, the reaction to b i). But th e teleological d escrip tion accord in g to which each action has the purpose o f m aking p ossib le th e reaction to the reaction it arou ses (ind ivid ual A p erform in g action ai, e .g . a g ift or ch allen ge, in order to m ake in dividu al B p rod uce action b it a co u n ter-g ift or riposte, so as to be able to p erform action a2, a step p ed -u p g ift or ch allenge) is q u ite as naive as th e m ech an istic d escrip tion w hich p resen ts the action and the riposte as m o m en ts in a se q u en ce o f program m ed actio n s prod uced by a mechanical apparatus. T h e h abitus is the sou rce of th ese series o f m o v es w hich are objectively organized as strategies w ith ou t b ein g th e p rod uct of a g en u in e strategic in ten tio n - w h ich w ould p resup pose at least that th ey are p erceived as one strategy am ong other p ossib le stra teg ies .2 It is necessary to ab and on all theories w h ich ex p lic itly or im p licitly treat practice as a m echanical reaction , d irectly d eterm in ed by the a n tecedent conditions and en tirely redu cible to th e m echan ical fu n ctio n in g of preestablished a ssem b lies, " m o d e ls or " r o l e s w h i c h o n e w o u ld , m oreover, have to p ostu late in in finite n um ber, like th e chance con figu ration s o f stim uli capable o f triggerin g th em from o u tsid e, th ereb y c o n d em n in g o n eself to the grandiose an d d esperate und ertak ing of th e an th rop olo g ist, arm ed w ith fine positivist cou rage, w h o recorded

480 elem en tary u n its of b eh aviour in tw en ty

m inutes' ob servation of his w ife in th e k itch en .3 B ut rejection o f m echan istic theories in n o w ay im p lies that, in accordance w ith an oth er ob ligatory op tio n , we sh ould b esto w on som e creative free w ill th e free and w ilfu l p o w er to constitute, o n the in stant, th e m ean in g o f the situ a tio n by p rojectin g the en d s aiming at its tran sform ation , and that w e sh ou ld redu ce the objective intentions an d con stitu ted sign ification s o f action s an d w orks to the co n scio u s and deliberate in ten tion s o f their authors.
Jean-Paul Sartre deserves credit for having given an ultra-consistent form ulation 0 ^ e philosophy of action accepted, usually im plicitly, by all those who describe Practices as strategies explicitly oriented by reference to purposes explicitly defined > a free project4 or even, with som e interactionists, by reference to the anticipated cues as to the reaction to practices. T h u s, refusing to recognize anything resem bling urable dispositions, Sartre makes each action a sort of unprecedented confrontation etween the subject and the w orld. T h is is clearly seen in the passages in Being and

7 4

Structures an d the habitus

Nothingness where he confers on the awakening of revolutionary consciousness - a sort o f " conversion of consciousness produced by a sort of imaginary variation - the power to create the m eaning o f the present by creating the revolutionary future which negates it: "For it is necessary to reverse the com m on opinion and acknow ledge that it is not the harshness of a situation or the sufferings it im poses that lead people to conceive of another state of affairs in w hich things would be better for everybody. It is on the day that we are able to conceive of another state of affairs, that a new light is cast on our trouble and our suffering and we decide that they are unbearable.5 If the world of action is nothing other than this universe of interchangeable possibles, entirely dependent on the decrees of the consciousness w hich creates it and hence totally devoid of objectivity, if it is m oving because the subject chooses to be moved, revolting because he chooses to be revolted, then em otions, passions, and actions are merely gam es of bad faith, sad farces in which one is both bad actor and good audience: " It is not by chance that materialism is serious; it is not by chance that it is found at all tim es and places as the favourite doctrine of the revolutionary. This is because revolutionaries are serious. T h ey com e to know them selves first in terms of the world which oppresses t h e m .. .T h e serious man is 'o f the w o rld and has no resource in him self. He does not even im agine any longer the possibility of getting o u to i the w o rld . . . he is in bad fa ith .* T h e same incapacity to encounter "seriousness other than in the disapproved form of the "spirit o f seriou sn ess can be seen in an analysis of em otion w hich, significantly, is separated by L imaginaire ( Psychology of the Imagination) from the less radically subjectivist descriptions in Sketch f o r a Theory o f the Emotions: "W hat will make me decide to choose the magical aspect or the technical aspect of the world ? It cannot be the world itself, .or th is in order to be manifested waits to be discovered. T herefore it is necessary that the for-itself in its project m ust choose being the one by w hom the world is revealed as magical or rational; that is, the for-itself m ust as a free project of itself give to itself rational or magical existence. It is responsible for either one, for the for-itself can be only if it has chosen itself. T herefore the for-itself appears as the free foundation of its emotions as of its volitions. M y fear is free and m anifests my freedom . > Such a theory of action rT was inevitably to lead to the desperate project of a transcendental genesis of society and history (the Critique de la raison dialectique) to which D urkheim seem ed to be pointing w hen he w rote in The Rules o f Sociological Method: " It is because the imaginary offers the mind no resistance that the m ind, conscious of no restraint, gives itself up to boundless am bitions and believes it possible to construct, or rather reconstruct, the world by virtue of its own strength and at the w him of its desires. 8 N o doubt one could counterpose to this analysis of Sartrian anthropology the num erous texts (found especially in the earliest and the latest works) in which Sartre recognizes, for exam ple, the passive syntheses* of a universe of already constituted significations or expressly challenges the very principles of his philosophy, such as the passage in Being and Nothingness in which he seeks to distinguish his position from the instantaneiste philosophy of D escartes9 or a sentence from the Critique de la raison dialectique in w hich he announces the study of "agentless actions, totalizer-less productions, counter-finalities, infernal circularities.10 T h e fact remains that Sartre rejects with visceral repugnance "those gelatinous realities, m ore or less vaguely haunted by a supra-individual consciousness, which a sham efaced organicism still seeks to retrieve, against all likelihood, in the rough, com plex but clear-cut field o f passive activity in w hich there are individual organisms and inorganic material realities, and that he leaves no room for everything that, as m uch on the side of the things of the world as on the side of the agents, m ight seem to blur the sharp line his rigorous dualism seeks to maintain betw een the pure transparency of the subject and the

A false dilem m a: mechanism an d finalism


ral opacity of the thing. W ithin this logic, "objective sociology can grasp only X ? s o c ia lit y of inertia, that is, for exam ple, the class reduced to inertia, hence to tence, class as a thing, an essence, " co n g ea led in its being, i.e . in its "having 1 ' > Class seriality makes the individual (w hoever he is and whatever the class) . being who defines him self as a hum anized t h i n g .. .T h e other form of class, that * the group totalizing in a praxis, is born at the heart of the passive form and as Its negation.12 T h e social w orld, the site of these com prom ises betw een thing and meaning which define "objective m ean in g as m eaning-m ade-thing and dispositions as meaning-made-body, is a positive challenge to som eone who can only live in the mire transparent universe of consciousness or individual praxis. T h e only lim it this artificialism recognizes to the freedom of the ego is that which freedom sets itself by the free abdication of a pledge or the surrender of bad faith, the Sartrian name for alienation, or the subm ission im posed on it by the alienating freedom of the alter ego in the Hegelian struggles betw een master and slave. S eeing "in social arrangments onlv artificial and more or less arbitrary com b in ation s, as Durkheim puts it ,13 without a second thought he subordinates the transcendence of the social - reduced to "the reciprocity of constraints and autonom ies - to the " transcendence of the ego , as the early Sartre used to put i t : " In the course of this action, the individual discovers the dialectic as rational transparency, inasm uch as he produces it, and as absolute necessity inasmuch as it escapes h im , in other w ords, quite sim ply, inasm uch as others produce it; finally, precisely insofar as he recognizes him self in overcom ing his needs, he recognizes the law which others im pose on him in overcom ing their own (recognizes it: this does not mean that he subm its to it), he recognizes his ow n autonom y (inasmuch as it can be used by another and daily is, bluffs, m anoeuvres, e tc .) as a foreign power and the autonom y of others as the inexorable law which allows him to coerce th em .1 T h e transcendence of the social can only be the effect of ,1 recurrence, that is to say, in the last analysis, o f number (hence the importance accorded to the " series), or of the "m aterialization of recurrence in cultural objects;15 alienation consists in the free abdication of freedom in favour of the demands of "worked upon m atter : "the 19th century worker makes himself w hat he is, that is, he practically and rationally determ ines the order o f his expenditure hence he decides in his free praxis - and by his freedom he makes him self what he was, what he is, what he m ust be: a m achine w hose wages represent no more than its running c o s t s .. . C lass-being as practico-inert being com es to men by m en through the passive syntheses of worked upon m atter.16 Elsewhere, affirmation o f the " logical primacy of "individual praxis, constituent R eason, over history, constituted Reason, leads Sartre to pose the problem of the genesis of society in the same terms as those employed by the theoreticians of the social contract: "H istory determ ines the content f human relationships in its totality and these relationships. . .relate back to every thing. But it is not H istory w hich causes there to be human relationships in general, t is not the problem s of organization and division of labour that have caused relations to be set up betw een those initially separate objects, m en .17 Just as for D escartes creation is con tin u ou s, as Jean Wahl puts it, "because tim e is n o t and because extended substance does not contain w ithin itself the power to subsist - God being ^vested w ith the ever-renewed task of recreating the world ex nihilo by a free decree 0 his w i l l - s o the typically Cartesian refusal of the viscous opacity of "objective potentialities and objective m eaning leads Sartre to entrust to the absolute initiative c mdividual or collective "historical a g en ts, such as the Party, the hypostasis of the subiect t^L indefinite task of tearing the social w hole, or the class, out of e e inertia of the " practico-inert . At the end o f his im m ense imaginary novel of the eath and resurrection of freedom , with its tw ofold m ovem ent, the "externalization


Structures an d the habitus

of internality, w hich leads from freedom to alienation, from consciousness to the materialization of consciousness, or, as the title puts it, "from praxis to the practicoin ert, and the internalization of externality w hich, by the abrupt shortcuts of the awakening of consciousness and the " fusion of consciousnesses , leads "from the group to h istory, from th e reified state of the alienated group to the authentic existence of the historical agent, consciousness and thing are as irremediably separate as they were at the outset, w ithout anything resem bling an institution or a socially constituted agent ever having been observed or constructed. T h e appearances of a dialectical discourse (or the dialectical appearances of the discourse) cannot mask the endless oscillation betw een the in-itself and the for-itself, or in the new language, between materiality and praxis, betw een the inertia of the group reduced to its " essen ce, i.e. to its outlived past and its necessity (abandoned to sociologists) and the continuous creation of the free collective project, seen as a series of acts of com m itm ent indispen sable for saving the group from annihilation in pure m ateriality.18

It is, o f cou rse, never ruled ou t that the resp onses o f the h abitus m ay be accom pan ied b y a strategic calculation ten d in g to carry on quasi-consciously th e operation th e habitus carries on in a q u ite d ifferen t w ay, nam ely an estim ation o f ch an ces w h ich assu m es the transform ation o f the past effect into the exp ected o b jectiv e. But the fact rem ains that these resp on ses are defined first in relation to a system o f ob jective p oten tialities, im m ed ia tely inscribed in the presen t, th in g s to d o or not to d o , to say or not to say, in relation to a forthcom ing reality w hich - in contrast to th e future co n ceiv ed as " absolute p o ssib ility ( absolute M oglich keit), in H e g e ls sen se, projected by the pure project o f a " n egative fr e e d o m - p u ts itself forw ard w ith an u rg en cy and a claim to existen ce exclu d in g all d elib eration . T o elim in a te the n eed to resort to 'r u le s , it w o u ld b e necessary to estab lish in each case a com plete d escrip tion (w h ich invocation o f rules allow s one to d isp en se w ith ) of the relation b etw een th e h abitus, as a socially con stitu ted sy stem of co g n itiv e and m otivatin g stru ctu res, and th e socially stru ctured situ a tio n in w h ich the a g en ts interests are d efin ed , and w ith th em the o b jectiv e fu n ctio n s and su bjective m otivation s o f their p ractices. It w ould th en b ecom e clear that, as W eber in d ica ted , the juridical or custom ary rule is never m ore than a secondary p rin ciple o f the d eterm in ation of p ractices, in terv en in g w hen the prim ary p rin cip le, in terest, fa ils .19 S ym b o lic - that is, conventional and conditional - stim u la tio n s, w h ich act on ly on co n d itio n th ey en cou n ter agen ts co n d itio n ed to perceive th em , tend to im pose th e m se lv e s u n con d ition ally and n ecessarily w h en in cu lcation of the arbitrary ab olish es the arbitrariness of b oth the in cu lca tio n and th e sign ifica tio n s in cu lcated . T h e w orld of u rgen cies and of goals already ach ieved , of u ses to b e m ade and path s to be taken, o f ob jects en d o w e d w ith a "permanent teleological ch a ra cter, in H u sse rls phrase, tools, in stru m en ts and institu* tion s, the w orld o f practicality, can grant on ly a co n d itio n a l freedom - liberet si liceret - rather like that of the m agnetic n eed le w h ich L eib n iz im agined

A false dilem m a: mechanism an d finalism


tid ily en joyed tu rn in g northw ards. If one regularly o b serves a very close

rrelation betw een the scien tifically co n stru cted objective probabilities (e .g . the chances of access to a particular g o o d ) and subjective aspirations (" m o tiv a
tions or " n e e d s) or, in other term s, b etw een the a posteriori or ex post

probability know n from past exp erien ce and the a p rio ri ox ex ante probability attributed to it, this is not becau se agen ts co n sc io u sly adjust their aspirations t0 an exact evaluation o f their ch an ces o f su c c e ss, like a player regulating his bets as a function of perfect inform ation as to h is ch an ces o f w in n in g, as one
im plicitly p resup poses w h en ever, forgettin g th e "every th in g takes place as if, one proceeds as if gam e theory or the calcu lation of p rob abilities, each

constructed against sp on tan eou s d isp o sitio n s, am ou n ted to anthropological descriptions of practice.
C om pletely reversin g the ten d en cy of ob jectiv ism , w'e can, on th e contrary,

seek in th e scien tific theory of p rob abilities (or strategies) not an an th rop olo
gical m odel of practice, but the elem en ts o f a negative description o f the im p licit logic of th e spontaneous interpretation o f statistics (e .g . the p rosp en sity to p rivilege early exp erien ces) w h ich th e scien tific theory necessarily con tain s becau se it is explicitly con stru cted against that log ic. U n lik e th e estim a tio n o f p rob abili ties w hich scien ce con stru cts m eth od ically on th e basis of con trolled ex p eri ments from data estab lish ed according to precise rules, practical evaluation of the lik elihood o f the su ccess o f a given action in a g iv en situ ation brings into play a w'hole b ody of w isd om , sayin g s, com m o n p la ces, ethical p recepts ("thats not for th e likes of u s ) and, at a d eep er lev el, the u n co n scio u s principles of the ethos w h ich , b ein g the p rod u ct of a learn ing p rocess d o m i nated by a d eterm inate typ e of ob jective regularities, d eterm in es" rea so n a b le and ''u n reason ab le con d u ct for every agen t su b jected to th o se regu larities .20 "We are n o soon er acquainted w ith the im p o ssib ility o f sa tisfy in g any d esire , says H u m e in A T reatise o f H um an N a tu re, " th an the d esire itself v a n ish e s. And Marx in the Economic and Philosophical M anuscripts: " If I have n o m oney for travel, I have no need, i.e . no real and self-realizin g n eed , to travel. If I have a vocation to stu d y , b u t n o m on ey for it, I have no vocation to study, i.e . no real, true v o ca tio n . Because th e d isp o sitio n s durably in cu lcated b y ob jective co n d itio n s (w h ich science ap preh en ds through statistical regularities as the p rob abilities ob jec

tively attached to a grou p or class) en gen d er asp iration s and practices ob jec tively com p atib le w ith th ose ob jective req u irem en ts, the m ost im probable
practices are ex clu d ed , eith er totally w ith o u t exam in a tio n , as unthinkable, or at the co st o f the double negation w hich in clin e s agen ts to m ake a virtu e of necessity, that is, to refuse wr hat is an yw ay refu sed and to love th e in evitab le. T h e very co n d ition s of p rod uction o f the e th o s, necessity m ade into a virtu e, ^ e su ch that the ex p ectation s to w hich it g ives rise ten d to ignore the


Structures and the habitus

restriction to w h ich the valid ity of any calcu lu s o f p ro b a b ilities is sub ordinated, n am ely that the co n d ition s o f th e ex p erim en ts sh o u ld not have b een m od ified . U n lik e scien tific estim ation s, w h ich are corrected after each exp erim en t in accordance w ith rigorous rules o f ca lcu lation , practical esti m ates g iv e d isp rop ortion ate w eigh t to early e x p e r ie n c e s: th e stru ctu res charac teristic of a d eterm in ate ty p e of co n d ition s o f ex iste n c e, through the eco n o m ic and social n ecessity w h ich th ey b rin g to bear on th e relatively a u to n om ou s u n iverse o f fam ily relation ship s, or m ore p recisely , through the m ediation of th e specifically fam ilial m an ifestation s of th is external necessity (sexual d iv isio n of labour, d om estic m orality, cares, strife, ta stes, etc.), p rod uce the stru ctu res of the h abitus w h ich b ecom e in turn th e basis of p erception and ap preciation of all su b seq u en t ex p erien ce. T h u s , as a result o f th e hysteresis effect necessarily im plied in the logic o f th e co n stitu tio n of habitus, p ractices are alw ays liable to incur n egative san ction s w h en the en viron m en t w ith w h ich th e y are actually con fron ted is to o distant from that to w hich they are ob jectively fitted . T h is is w h y g en eration con flicts oppose not age-classes separated by natural p rop erties, but h ab itu s w h ich have been p roduced by d ifferen t modes o f generation, that is, b y co n d itio n s of existence w h ich , in im p o sin g different d efin ition s of th e im p o ssib le, the p o ssib le, and the probable, cau se on e grou p to exp erien ce as natural or reasonable practices or aspirations w h ich another grou p finds unthin k able or scand alous, and vice versa. Structures, habitus an d practices T h e habitus, th e durably installed gen erative p rin cip le o f regulated im provi sation s, p rod u ces practices w h ich ten d to reproduce th e regularities im m anent in the ob jective co n d ition s of the p rod u ction o f their gen era tiv e principle, w h ile ad justing to the d em and s inscribed as ob jectiv e p oten tialities in the situ ation , as d efined b y the cogn itive and m otivatin g stru ctu res m aking up the h ab itu s. It fo llo w s that these practices can n ot b e d irectly d ed u ced either from the ob jective con d itio n s, defined as the in stan tan eou s su m o f th e stim uli w h ich m ay appear to have d irectly triggered th em , or from th e con d itions w h ich p rod u ced the durable p rin cip le of their p ro d u ctio n . T h e se practices can b e accou n ted for on ly b y relatin g the ob jective structure d efin in g the social co n d ition s of th e p rod u ction of the h abitus w h ich en g en d ered th e m to the co n d ition s in w h ich th is h ab itu s is op eratin g, that is, to th e conjuncture w hich, short o f a radical transform ation, represents a particular sta te o f th is structure. In practice, it is th e habitus, h istory turned into n atu re, i.e . d en ied as such, w hich acco m p lish es practically th e relating o f th ese tw o sy stem s o f relations, in and th rou gh th e p rod u ction o f practice. T h e " u n c o n s c io u s is never an yth ing other than the forgettin g of h istory w h ich h isto ry itself p rod uces by

Structures , habitus an d practices


. corporating th e ob jective stru ctures it p rod u ces in the seco n d natures of habitus: " . in each o f u s, in varying prop ortions, there is part of y esterd a y s man; it IS yesterd ays m an w h o in evitab ly p red om in ates in u s, sin ce the resent a m ou n ts to little com pared w ith th e lo n g past in the course o f w hich we were form ed and from w hich w e resu lt. Y et w e d o n ot sen se this m an of the p ast, b ecause he is inveterate in u s; he m akes u p th e u n c o n scio u s part 0f ourselves. C on seq u en tly w e are led to take no accou n t of h im , any m ore than w e take accou n t o f his legitim ate d em an d s. C on versely , w e are very m uch aware of th e m ost recent attain m en ts of civilization , b ecau se, b ein g recent, they have n ot yet had tim e to settle in to our u n c o n sc io u s .21 G enesis am nesia is also en cou raged (if n ot en tailed ) b y th e ob jectivist apprehension w h ich , graspin g the p rod uct of h istory as an opus operatum , a fa it accom pli, can on ly invoke the m ysteries of p re-esta b lish ed harm ony or the prodigies of co n scio u s orchestration to acco u n t for w h at, apprehended in pure sy n ch ron y, appears as ob jective m ean in g, w h eth er it be the internal coherence o f w orks or in stitu tion s su ch as m yth s, rites, or b o d ies of law , or the objective co-ordin ation w h ich th e con cordan t or co n flictin g p ractices of the m em bers o f the sam e grou p or class at on ce m anifest and p resup pose (inasmuch as they im p ly a com m u n ity o f d isp o sitio n s). Each agen t, w ittin g ly or u n w ittin gly, w illy n illy , is a p roducer and repro ducer of ob jective m ean in g. Because h is action s and w orks are the p rod uct of a modus operandi of w h ich he is not th e p rod ucer an d has n o co n scio u s mastery, th ey contain an " ob jective in ten tion , as th e S ch o la stics put it, w h ich always o u tru n s his co n scio u s in ten tio n s. T h e sch em es o f th o u g h t and expression he has acquired are the basis for th e intentionless invention of regulated im p rovisation . E n d lessly overtaken by h is o w n w ord s, w ith w h ich he m aintains a relation of "carry and b e ca r ried , as N ico la i H artm ann put it, the v irtu oso finds in the opus operatum n ew triggers and new su p p orts for the modus operandi from w h ich th ey arise, so that h is d iscou rse co n tin u o u sly feeds off itse lf like a train b rin gin g alon g its ow n ra ils .22 If w itticism s surprise their author no less than their au d ien ce, and im p ress as m uch b y their retrospective n ecessity as b y their n ov elty , the reason is that the trouvaille appears as the sim p le u nearthin g, at o n ce accid en tal and irresistib le, of a buried p o ssib ility . It is b ecau se su bjects d o not, strictly sp eak ing, know w hat they are d o in g that w hat th ey d o has m ore m ean in g than th ey know . T h e habitus is th e u n iversalizin g m ediation w h ich cau ses an in dividu al a g en ts practices, w ith ou t eith er ex p licit reason or sig n ify in g in ten t, to be none the less " s e n s ib le and " r ea so n a b le. T h a t part o f practices w h ich rem ains bscure in th e ey es of their ow n producers is th e aspect b y w h ich th ey are objectively adjusted to other p ractices and to th e stru ctures o f w h ich the Principle o f their p rod u ction is itself th e p rod u ct .23


Structures and the habitus O n e of th e fun dam en tal effects of the orchestration o f h abitus is the

p ro d u ction o f a com m o n sen se w orld en d ow ed w ith th e o bjectivity secu red by co n se n su s on th e m ean in g (sens) of practices and th e w o rld , in other words th e h arm onization o f ag en ts exp erien ces and th e co n tin u o u s reinforcem ent that each o f th em receives from th e exp ression , in dividu al or co llectiv e (in festivals, for exa m p le), im p rovised or program m ed (co m m o n p la ces, sayings), of sim ilar or id en tical ex p erien ces. T h e h o m o g e n e ity o f h ab itu s is w hat w ith in th e lim its of th e grou p of agen ts p ossessin g th e sch em es (o f production and in terp retation ) im p lied in their p rod uction - cau ses practices and works to b e im m ed iately in telligib le and foreseeable, and h en ce taken for granted. T h is practical com p reh en sion ob viates th e " in te n tio n and "intentional transfer in to th e O th e r dear to th e p h en om en o lo g ists, b y d isp en sin g , for th e ordinary occasion s of life, w ith close an alysis o f th e n uan ces o f anothers practice and tacit or ex p licit in q u iry (" W hat d o you mean ? ) in to h is inten tio n s. A u tom atic and im person al, significant w ith o u t in ten d in g to signify, ordinary practices lend th em selv es to an u n d ersta n d in g no less au tom atic and im p e rso n a l: th e p ick in g u p of th e ob jective in ten tio n th e y exp ress in no way im plies " r ea ctiv a tio n of th e " liv e d in ten tion of th e agent w h o performs th e m .24 " C om m u n ica tio n of c o n sc io u sn e sse s p resu p p o ses co m m u n ity of " u n c o n sc io u se s (i.e . o f lin gu istic and cultural co m p eten ce s). T h e d eciph er in g of th e ob jective in ten tion of practices and w orks has n o th in g to d o with th e " r ep ro d u c tio n ( N achbildung, as th e early D iith e y p u ts it) o f lived ex p erien ces and the reco n stitu tio n , unnecessary'and u ncertain , o f th e personal sin gu larities of an " in te n tio n w h ich is not their true origin. T h e ob jective h o m o g en izin g of group or class h abitus w h ich resu lts from th e h o m o g en eity of th e co n d itio n s o f existen ce is w hat en ab les practices to be o b jectively h arm onized w ith o u t any in ten tion al calcu lation or conscious reference to a norm and m utually adjusted in the absence o f a n y d irect interaction or, a fortiori, ex p lic it c o -o r d in a tio n ." Im agine , L e ib n iz su g g ests, " tw o clocks or w atches in p erfect agreem en t as to the tim e. T h is m ay occur in o n e of three w ays. T h e first co n sists in m utual in flu e n c e; th e seco n d is to a p p o in t a skilful w orkm an to correct th em and syn ch ron ize th e m at all tim es; th e third is to con stru ct th ese clock s w ith su ch art and p recision that on e can b e assured o f their su b se q u en t a g reem en t .25 S o lon g as, retaining o n ly th e first or at a p in ch the seco n d h y p o th esis, on e ignores th e tru e p rin cip le o f th e conductorless orchestration w h ich g iv e s regularity, u n ity , and sy stem a ticity to the p ractices of a grou p or class, and th is even in th e ab sen ce o f any sp on tan eou s or extern ally im p osed organ ization of in dividual projects, on e is con d em ned to th e naive artificialism w h ich recogn izes no other p rin cip le u n ify in g a group s or classs ordinary or extraordinary action than th e co n scio u s co-ordination of a co n sp ira c y .26 If th e p ractices o f the m em b ers o f th e sam e grou p or class

Structures , habitus an d practices


are m ore and b etter h arm onized than th e agen ts know or w ish , it is becau se,

Leibniz puts it, " fo llo w in g on ly [his] ow n la w s, each " n o n e th e less agrees % the o th e r .27 T h e h ab itu s is p recisely th is im m an en t law , lex in sita, laid vith j 0wn in each agent by h is earliest u p b rin gin g, w hich is th e p recon d ition not onlv for the co-ord in ation of p ractices b u t also for practices o f co-ord in ation , ince th e correction s and ad ju stm en ts the agen ts th em selv es co n scio u sly carry out presuppose their m astery o f a co m m o n code and sin ce u nd ertak ings o f collective m ob ilization cannot su cceed w ith o u t a m in im u m o f con cordan ce between the h ab itu s o f th e m o b ilizin g agen ts (e .g . p rop h et, party leader, e tc .) and the d isp o sitio n s o f th o se w h o se aspirations and w o rld -v iew th ey exp ress. So it is becau se th ey are th e p rod u ct o f d isp o sitio n s w h ich , b ein g th e internalization o f th e sam e ob jective stru ctu res, are ob jectiv ely con certed that
(he practices of the m em b ers o f th e sam e grou p or, in a differen tiated so c iety , the sam e class are en d ow ed w ith an ob jective m ean in g that is at on ce unitary

and system atic, tran scen d in g su b jective in ten tion s and co n sc io u s projects
whether in d ivid u al or c o lle c tiv e .28 T o d escrib e th e p rocess o f ob jectification

and orchestration in th e lan guage o f interaction and m utual a d ju stm ent is to

forget that the in teraction itself ow es its form to th e o b jectiv e stru ctures which have p rod uced th e d isp o sitio n s of th e in teracting agen ts and w h ich allot them their relative p o sitio n s in the in teraction and elsew h ere. E very co n fro n tation b etw een agen ts in fact b rin gs togeth er, in an interaction d efined by the objective structure of th e relation b etw een th e groups th e y b elo n g to ( e .g . a boss g iv in g orders to a su b ord in ate, colleagu es d iscu ssin g th eir p u p ils, academics taking part in a sy m p o siu m ), system s of d isp o sitio n s (carried by 'natural p e r so n s) su ch as a lin g u istic com p eten ce and a cultural co m p eten ce and, through th ese h ab itu s, all th e ob jective stru ctures o f w h ich they are the product, stru ctures w h ich are active on ly w hen em bodied in a co m p eten ce acquired in th e cou rse of a particular h istory (w ith th e d ifferen t ty p es of

bilingualism or p ron u n ciation , for exam p le, stem m in g from d ifferen t m o d es

of a cq u isition ).29 T h u s, w h en w e speak o f class h abitus, w e are in sistin g , against all form s of the occasion alist illu sion w h ich co n sists in d irectly relating p ractices to properties in scrib ed in th e situ ation , that " in terp erso n a l relations are never, except in appearance, in d ividu al-to-in dividu al relation ship s and that th e truth f the in teraction is never en tirely con tain ed in the in teraction . T h is is w hat social p sy ch o lo g y and in teraction ism or eth n o m eth o d o lo g y forget w h en , reducing the ob jective stru cture of th e relation ship b etw een th e assem b led tfidividuals to the con jun ctural stru cture of their in teraction in a particular situation and grou p , they seek to explain everyth in g that occu rs in an ex p eri m ental or ob served in teraction in term s of the exp erim en tally con trolled characteristics o f the situ ation , su ch as the relative spatial p o sitio n s o f the


Structures an d the habitus

participants or th e nature o f th e ch an n els u sed . In fact it is th eir p resen t and past p ositio n s in th e social stru ctu re that b iological in d ivid u als carry with th em , at all tim es and in all p laces, in th e form o f d isp o sitio n s w h ich are so m any m arks o f social position and h en ce o f th e social d istance b etw een objective p o sitio n s, that is, b etw een social p erson s con jun cturally b rou ght together (in p hysical sp ace, w h ich is not th e sam e th in g as social sp a ce) and correlativelv, so m any rem in d ers o f th is d istan ce and of th e co n d u ct required in order to " k eep o n e s d ista n c e or to m an ip u late it strategically, w h eth er sym bolically or actually, to reduce it (easier for th e d om in a n t than for th e d om in ated ), increase it, or sim p ly m aintain if (b y n ot " lettin g o n ese lf g o , n ot "becom ing fa m ilia r, in sh ort, " stan d in g on o n e s d ig n ity , or on th e other hand, refusin g to " take lib erties and " p u t o n ese lf forw ard , in s h o r t" k n o w in g o n es p la c e and stayin g th ere). E ven th o se form s o f in teraction seem in g ly m o st am en able to description in term s of " in ten tion al transfer in to th e O th e r , su ch as sy m p a th y , friend sh ip , or lo v e , are d om in ated (as class h om ogam y a tte s ts ), through th e harm ony o f h abitus, that is to say, m ore p recisely, th e h arm on y o f eth o s and tastes - d ou b tless sen sed in th e im p ercep tib le cu es of b o d y hexis - b y th e objective stru cture of th e relation s b etw e en social co n d itio n s. T h e illu sio n o f mutual election or p red estin ation arises from ignorance o f th e social co n d itio n s for th e h arm ony of aesth etic tastes or eth ical lean in g s, w hich is th ereb y perceived as ev id en ce o f th e ineffable affinities w h ich sp rin g from it. In sh ort, th e h abitus, th e p rod u ct of h istory, p rod u ces in d ivid u al and co llectiv e practices, and h en ce h istory, in accord ance w ith th e schem es en gen d ered b y h istory. T h e sy stem o f d isp o sitio n s - a past w h ich survives in th e p resen t and ten d s to p erp etu ate itself in to th e future b y m akin g itself p resen t in p ractices stru ctured accord in g to its p rin cip les, an internal law relayin g th e co n tin u o u s exercise of th e law of external n ecessities (irreducible to im m ed iate con jun ctural con strain ts) - is th e p rin cip le o f th e co n tin u ity and regularity w h ich o b jectivism d iscern s in th e social w orld w ith o u t b ein g able to g iv e th em a rational b asis. A n d it is at th e sam e tim e the p rin cip le o f the tran sform ation s and regulated revolu tion s w h ich n either th e extrin sic and in stan tan eou s d eterm in ism s o f a m ech an istic so cio lo g ism nor th e purely internal b u t eq u ally p u n ctu al d eterm in ation o f volu ntarist or spontaneist su b jectiv ism are cap ab le of a ccou n tin g for. It is just as true and just as u n tru e to say that co llectiv e actio n s produce th e even t or that th ey are its p rod u ct. T h e con ju n ctu re cap ab le o f transform in g practices ob jectively co-ordin ated b ecau se su b ord in ated to partially or w h olly id en tical ob jective n ecessities, in to collective action ( e .g . revolutionary action ) is co n stitu ted in th e d ialectical relation ship b etw een , on the on e hand, a habitus, u n d erstood as a sy stem of lastin g, transposable d isp o sitio n s w h ich .

Structures , habitus an d practices


tegrating past ex p erien ces, fu n ctio n s at every m o m en t as a m atrix o f percep* its ap p rec^ ons* an(* a c*ins an^ rnakes p ossib le th e a ch iev em en t o f infinin 11 diversified tasks, thanks to analogical transfers o f sc h e m e s p erm ittin g the olution of sim ilarly sh aped p ro b lem s, and thanks to the u n cea sin g correction s of the results ob tain ed , d ialectically p rod u ced by th ose resu lts, and on th e other hand, an objective even t w h ich exerts its action of co n d itio n a l stim u lation calling for or d em a n d in g a d eterm in ate resp on se, on ly on th o se w h o are disposed to con stitu te it as su ch b ecau se th e y are en d ow ed w ith a d eterm in ate type o f d isp osition s (w h ich are am en able to red u p lication and rein forcem en t by the 'aw akening of class c o n sc io u sn e ss , that is, b y th e d irect or in direct possession of a d iscou rse cap ab le o f secu rin g sy m b o lic m astery o f th e practi cally m astered p rin cip les o f th e class h a b itu s). W ith ou t ever b ein g totally co-ordinated, since they are th e p rod uct o f "causal s e r ie s characterized by different structural d uration s, th e d isp o sitio n s and th e situ a tio n s w h ich com bine syn ch ron ically to co n stitu te a d eterm in ate co n ju n ctu re are n ever whollv in d ep en d en t, sin ce th ey are en gen d ered by th e o b jectiv e stru ctures, that is, in th e last an alysis, b y th e eco n o m ic bases o f th e social form ation in question. T h e h ysteresis o f h ab itu s, w h ich is in h eren t in th e social co n d itio n s of the reproduction of th e stru ctures in h ab itu s, is d o u b tless on e of the foundations of th e structural lag b etw een op p ortu n ities and th e d isp o sitio n s to grasp them w h ich is th e cau se of m issed op p ortu n ities and, in particular, of the frequ en tly ob served in cap acity to thin k historical crises in categories of perception and th o u g h t oth er than th o se o f th e p ast, a lb eit a revolu tionary past. If one ignores th e dialectical relation ship b etw een the o b jectiv e stru ctures and the cogn itive and m otivatin g stru ctu res w h ich th ey p rod u ce and w h ich tend to reproduce th em , if o n e forgets that th ese ob jectiv e stru ctures are them selves products o f historical practices and are co n sta n tly reprodu ced and transformed by h istorical practices w h o se p rod u ctive p rin cip le is itself the product o f the stru ctures w h ich it co n seq u en tly ten d s to rep rod u ce, then on e is condem ned to redu ce th e relation sh ip b etw een th e d ifferen t social agen cies ( instances), treated as " d ifferen t tran slation s o f th e sam e s e n te n c e - i n a Spinozist m etaphor w h ich con tain s th e truth of th e o b jectiv ist lan guage of articulation - to th e logical form ula en a b lin g any on e o f th e m to b e derived from any other. T h e u n ify in g p rin cip le o f practices in d ifferen t d o m a in s w h ich objectivist analysis w ou ld assign to separate " s u b -s y s te m s , su ch at, P atrim onial strategies, fertility strategies, or eco n o m ic ch o ic es, is n o th in g other than the h ab itu s, th e lo cu s o f practical realization o f th e " a r ticu la tio n f fields w hich ob jectivism (from Parsons to th e stru cturalist readers of M arx) lavs out side b y sid e w ith o u t secu rin g th e m ean s o f d isco v erin g the real Principle o f the structural h om o lo g ies or relations of transform ation o b ject


Structures an d the habitus

iv ely estab lish ed b etw een th e m (w h ich is n ot to d en y that th e structures are o b jectiv ities irred u cib le to th eir m an ifestation in th e h a b itu s w h ich they p rod u ce and w h ich ten d to rep rod u ce th e m ). S o lo n g as o n e accepts the ca n on ic o p p o sitio n w h ich , en d lessly reappearing in n ew form s through out the h istory o f social th o u g h t, n ow ad ays p its "h u m a n is t a g a in st" str u c tu r a list readings o f M arx, to declare diam etrical o p p o sitio n to su b jectivism is n ot g en u in e ly to break w ith it, b u t to fall in to th e fetish ism of social laws t0 w h ich ob jectivism co n sig n s itself w h e n in esta b lish in g b etw e en structure and p ractice th e relation o f th e virtual to the actual, of th e sco re to th e performance of essen ce to ex iste n c e, it m erely su b stitu tes for th e creative m an of subjects vism a m an su bjugated to th e dead law s of a natural h istory. A n d h ow could o n e u n d erestim a te th e stren gth o f th e id eological cou p le su bjectivism /objec tiv ism w h en o n e sees that th e critiq ue of th e in d ivid u a l co n sid ered as ens realissimum on ly leads to h is b ein g m ade an ep ip h e n o m en o n of hypostatized stru ctu re, and that the w ell-fo u n d ed assertion o f th e p rim acy of objective relation s resu lts in p ro d u cts o f h um an action , th e stru ctu res, b ein g credited w ith th e p ow er to d ev elo p in accord ance w ith their o w n law s and to determine an d o v erd eterm in e other stru ctu res? , Ju st as th e o p p o sitio n o f lan gu age to sp eech as m ere ex e cu tio n or even as a p recon stru cted o b ject m asks th e op p osition b etw een th e o b jectiv e relations o f th e lan guage and th e d isp o sitio n s m aking up lin g u istic co m p eten ce , so th e o p p o sitio n b etw e en th e stru ctu re and the in d iv id u a l again st w h om the stru ctu re has to be w o n and en d lessly rewon stand s in th e w ay o f construction of th e dialectical relation sh ip b etw een the stru cture and th e dispositions m aking u p th e h abitus.
If the debate on the relationship between " cu ltu re and " p erson ality which dom inated a w hole era of Am erican anthropology now seem s so artificial and sterile, it is because, am idst a host o f logical and epistem ological fallacies, it was organized around the relation betw een tw o com plem entary products of the sam e realist, substantialist representation of the scientific object. In its m ost exaggerated form s, the theory of "basic personality ten d s to define personality as a miniature replica (obtained by " m o u ld in g ) of the " cu ltu re, to be found in all m em bers of the sam e society, except deviants. Cora D u B oiss celebrated analyses on the Alor Island natives provide a very typical exam ple of th e con fu sion s and contradictions resulting from the theory that " cu ltu re and personality can each be deduced from the other: determ ined to reconcile the anthropologists con clu sion s, based on the postulate that the same influences produce the sam e basic personality, with her ow n clinical observations of four subjects w ho seem to her to be "highly individual characters, each "moulded by the specific factors in his individual fa te , the psychoanalyst w ho struggles to find individual incarnations of the basic personality is condem ned to recantations and contradictions.30 T h u s, she can see M angm a as "the m ost ty p ica l of the four ("his personality corresponds to the basic personality stru ctu re) after having written: " ll is difficult to decide how typical M angm a is. I w ould venture to say that if he were typical, the society could not con tin u e to ex ist. Ripalda, w ho is passive and has

S tructu res , habitus an d practices

S 5

super-ego, is " atyp ical*, S o is Fantan, w h o has "the strongest character a StfCfion devoid of inhibitions toward w o m e n (extrem e heterosexual inhibition *fnl the rule), and "differs from the other m en as m uch as a citv-slicker differs from kc!ner ,\ T h e fourth, M alekala, w hose biography is typical at every point, is a 3 known prophet w ho tried to start a revivalist m ovem ent, and his personality seem s ^ resem b le that of Ripalda, another sorcerer w ho, as we have seen, is described as t0 ical. All this is capped by the analysts observation that "characters such as ngflia, Ripalda and Fantan can be found in any society . A nthony F . W allace, from Vhom this critique is taken,31 is no doubt right in p ointing out that the notion o f modal ' -onality has the advantage of avoiding the illogicalities resulting from indifference ^differences (and thus to statistics) usually im plicit in recourse to the notion of basic r s o n a l i t v . But what m ight pass for a m ere refinem ent of the m easuring and checking techniques used to test the validity o f a theoretical construct am ounts in fact to the - u b s t i t u t i o n of one object for another: a system o f h ypotheses as to the structure of personality, conceived as a hom eostatic system w hich changes by reinterpreting external pressures in accordance with its ow n logic, is replaced by a sim ple description of the central tendency in the distribution of the values of a variable, or rather a c o m b i n a t i o n of variables. Wallace thus com es to the tautological conclusion that in a population of Tuscarora Indians, the m odal personality type defined by reference to twenty-seven variables is to be found in only 37 per cen t of the subjects stu d ied . The construction of a class ethos m ay, for exam ple, make use of a reading of statistical regularities treated as indices, w ithout the principle w hich unifies and explains these regularities being reducible to the regularities in w hich it m anifests itself. In short, failing to see in the notion of "basic p erson ality* anything other than a way of pointing to a directly observable " d a tu m , i.e . the "personality type* shared by the greatest number o f m em bers of a given society, the advocates o f th is notion cannot, in all logic, take issue w ith those w ho subm it th is theory to the test of statistical critique, in the name of the sam e realist representation of the scientific object.

The h abitus is the p rod uct o f the w ork of in cu lca tio n and appropriation necessary in order for th o se p rod u cts of co llec tiv e h istory, th e ob jective structures (e .g . o f lan gu age, e c o n o m y , e tc .) to su cceed in rep ro d u cin g th e m selves m ore or less co m p letely , in th e form o f d urable d isp o sitio n s, in the organisms (w h ich on e can, if o n e w ish es, call in d ivid u a ls) lastingly su b jected to the sam e co n d itio n in g s, and h en ce placed in th e sam e m aterial co n d itio n s f existence. T h er efo re so c io lo g y treats as id en tical all th e b io lo g ica l in d iv i duals w h o, b ein g the p rod uct o f th e sam e o b jectiv e co n d itio n s, are the supports o f th e sam e h ab itu s: social class, u n d erstood as a sy stem o f o b jective
determ inations, m u st be b rou gh t in to relation not w ith th e in d iv id u a l or w ith " c la ss as a popu lation , i.e . as an aggregate of en u m erab le, m easurable

biological in d ivid u als, b u t w ith th e class h ab itu s, th e sy stem of d isp o sitio n s ^partially) co m m o n to all p ro d u cts o f th e sam e stru ctu res. T h o u g h it is
^ p o s s ib le for a ll m em b ers o f th e sam e class (or even tw o o f th em ) to have h& the sam e ex p erien ces, in th e sam e ord er, it is certain that each m em b er d the sam e class is m ore likely than any m em b er o f another class to have een con fron ted w ith th e situ ation s m ost freq u en t for the m em b ers o f that C,ass- T h e ob jectiv e stru ctu res w h ich sc ien ce ap p reh en d s in the form of


Structures a n d the habitus

statistical regu larities (e .g . e m p lo y m e n t rates, in co m e cu rv es, p rob abilities 0f a ccess to secon d ary ed u ca tio n , freq u en cy of h olid a y s, e tc .) in cu lca te , through th e direct or in d irect b u t alw ays co n vergen t ex p erien ces w h ich g iv e a social e n v iro n m en t its ph ysiogn om y, w ith its " clo sed d o o r s , " d ead e n d s , and lim ited " p r o s p e c ts , that "art of a ssessin g lik e lih o o d s, as L e ib n iz put it, 0f a n ticip atin g th e ob jective fu tu re, in sh ort, th e sen se o f reality or realities which is perh ap s th e b est-co n cea led p rin cip le o f th eir efficacy. In order to d efin e the relation s b etw e en class, h ab itu s and th e organic in d iv id u a lity w h ich can never en tirely b e rem oved from so cio lo g ica l discourse, in a sm u ch as, b ein g giv en im m ed ia tely to im m ed ia te p ercep tio n (intuitus personae), it is also socially d esig n a ted and reco g n ized (n am e, legal identity, e tc .) and is d efin ed b y a social trajectory strictly sp eak ing irred u cib le to any o th er, th e h ab itu s cou ld b e con sid ered as a su b jectiv e b u t not in d iv id u a l system of in tern alized stru ctu res, sc h e m e s of p ercep tio n , co n ce p tio n , and action co m m o n to all m em b ers of th e sam e grou p or class and co n stitu tin g the p reco n d ition for all ob jectification and a p p ercep tio n : and th e o b jectiv e co ord in ation o f p ractices and the sh arin g o f a w orld -v iew cou ld be fou n d ed on the p erfect im p erson ality and in terch an geab ility o f sin gular practices and v iew s. B ut th is w ou ld am ou n t to regarding all the practices or representations prod uced in accord ance w ith id en tical sc h e m e s as im person al and su b stitu table, like sin gular in tu itio n s of sp a ce w h ich , acco rd in g to K a n t, reflect none o f th e p ecu liarities o f th e in d ivid u al ego. In fact, it is in a relation of h o m o lo g y , of d iversity w ith in h o m o g en eity reflectin g th e d iv er sity within h o m o g e n e ity ch aracteristic of their social c o n d itio n s o f p ro d u ctio n , that the sin gular h a b itu s of th e d ifferen t m em b ers o f th e sam e class are u n ite d ; the h o m o lo g y of w orld -v iew s im p lies th e sy stem a tic d ifferen ces w h ich separate sin gular w o rld -v iew s, ad op ted from sin gular b u t con certed stand points. S in ce the h istory o f th e in d ivid u al is never a n y th in g other th an a certain sp ecification o f th e co llec tiv e h istory o f h is grou p or class, each individual system o f dispositions m ay b e seen as a structural v a r ia n t o f all th e o th er group or class h ab itu s, ex p ressin g th e d ifferen ce b etw e en trajectories and positions in sid e or o u tsid e th e cla ss. " P e r so n a l sty le, th e particular stam p m arking all th e p ro d u cts of th e sam e h ab itu s, w h eth er p ractices or w orks, is n ev er more than a deviation in relation to th e style of a p eriod or class so that it relates back to th e co m m o n sty le n ot o n ly b y its co n fo rm ity - like P h id ias, who, accord in g to H e g el, had no " m ann er - b u t also b y th e d ifferen ce w h ich makes th e w h ole " m a n n e r . T h e p rin cip le o f th ese in d ivid u al d ifferen ces lies in th e fact that, b ein g the p rod u ct o f a ch ron o lo g ica lly ordered series of stru ctu rin g d eterm in a tio n s, the h a b itu s, w h ich at every m o m e n t stru ctu res in term s o f th e structuring ex p erien ces w h ich p rod u ced it th e stru ctu rin g ex p erien ces w h ich affect its

T h e dialectic o f objectification a n d em bodiment


tructure, b rin gs ab ou t a u n iq u e in tegration , d om in a ted b y th e earliest S neriences, o f th e ex p erien ces statistically co m m o n to th e m em b e rs o f the sam class. T h u s , for ex a m p le, th e h ab itu s acq u ired in th e fa m ily u n d erlies e the structuring of sch o o l ex p erien ces (in particular th e recep tio n and a ssim i lation of the sp ecifically p ed agogic m essa g e ), and th e h a b itu s tran sform ed b y schooling, itself d iversified , in tu rn u n d erlies th e stru ctu rin g o f all su b seq u en t experiences (e .g . th e recep tio n and assim ilation o f th e m essa g es o f th e cu ltu re industry or w ork ex p er ie n c es), and so o n , from restru ctu rin g to restru cturin g.
Springing from th e en co u n te r in an in tegrative organ ism o f relatively independent causal series, su ch as b iological an d social d eter m in ism s, th e habitus m akes co h eren ce and n ecessity o u t o f accid en t and co n tin g e n c y : for

example, th e eq u iv a len ces it esta b lish es b etw e en p o sitio n s in th e d iv isio n o f

labour and p o sitio n s in th e d iv isio n b etw e en th e se x es are d o u b tle ss not peculiar to so c ietie s in w h ich th e d iv isio n o f labour and th e d iv isio n b etw een the sexes co in c id e alm ost p erfectly. In a class so c iety , all th e p ro d u cts o f a given agen t, b y an essen tial overdeterm ination , speak in sep arab ly an d sim u l taneously o f h is class - or, m ore, p recisely, h is p ositio n in th e social stru cture and his risin g or fallin g trajectory - and of h is (or h er) b o d y - or, m ore precisely, all th e p rop erties, alw ays socia lly qualified, o f w h ich he or sh e is the bearer - sexu al p rop erties o f cou rse, b u t also p hysical p rop erties, p raised, like strength or b eau ty, or stig m a tized .

T h e dialectic o f objectification a n d em bodiment So long as th e w ork o f ed u cation is n ot clearly in stitu tio n a lized as a sp ecific, autonom ous p ractice, and it is a w h o le g rou p and a w h o le sy m b o lica lly stru c tured en v iro n m en t, w ith o u t sp ecialized agen ts or sp ecific m o m e n ts, w h ich exerts an an o n y m o u s, p ervasive p ed agogic actio n , th e essen tia l part o f the modus operandi w h ich d efin es practical m astery is tra n sm itted in practice, in its practical state, w ith o u t attain in g th e le v el of d iscou rse. T h e ch ild im itates not ,fm o d e ls b u t other p eop le's a ctio n s. B od y hexis sp eak s d irectly to the niotor fu n ctio n , in th e form o f a pattern of p ostu res that is b o th in d ivid u al and sy stem atic, b ecau se linked to a w h o le sy stem of tec h n iq u es in v o lv in g th e body and to o ls, and ch arged w ith a h ost of social m ea n in g s and va lu es: *n all so c ietie s, ch ild ren are particularly atten tive to th e g estu res an d p ostu res w hich, in their ey es, exp ress ev e ry th in g that goes to m ake an a cco m p lish ed adult - a w ay o f w alk in g, a tilt of the h ead , facial ex p ressio n s, w ays of sittin g and of u sin g im p lem en ts, alw ays associated w ith a to n e o f v o ic e , a sty le of sp eech , and (h o w cou ld it be o th erw ise? ) a certain su b jectiv e ex p erien ce. B ut the fact that sc h e m e s are able to pass from practice to p ractice w ith o u t g o in g through d isco u rse or co n sc io u sn e ss d o e s n ot m ean that acq u isitio n o f the


Structures an d the habitus

habitus co m es d ow n to a q u estion of m echanical learn ing by trial and error U nlike an in coh eren t series o f figures, w h ich can be learnt o n ly gradually through repeated attem p ts and w ith con tin u o u s p redictable p rogress, a num e rical series is m astered m ore easily b ecause it con tain s a structure w h ich makes it unnecessary to m em orize all the n um bers on e by o n e : in verbal products such as proverbs, sayin gs, m axim s, so n g s, ridd les, or gam es; in ob jects, such as tools, th e h ou se, or the village; or again, in p racticcs such as con tests of honour, gift exch an ges, rites, e tc ., the m aterial w h ich the K a b y le ch ild has to assim ilate is the p rod u ct of th e system atic application of principles coherent in practice ,32 wr ich m ean s, that in all th is en d lessly redundant m aterial, he h has no difficulty in graspin g th e rationale o f w hat are clearly series and in m aking it h is ow n in the form of a p rin cip le gen erating con d uct organized in accordance w ith the sam e rationale.
Experimental analyses of learning w hich establish that " neither the form ation nor the application of a concept requires conscious recognition of the com m on elements or relationship involved in the specific i n s t a n c e s e n a b l e us to understand the dialectic of objectification and incorporation w hereby the systematic objectifications of system atic dispositions tend in their turn to give rise to systematic dispositions: when faced w ith series of sym bols - C hinese characters (H u ll) or pictures varying sim ultaneously the colour, nature, and num ber of the objects represented (Heidbreder) - distributed into classes w ith arbitrary but objectively based names, subjects who are unable to state the principle of classification nonetheless attain higher scores than they w ould if they were guessing a t random, thereby dem onstrating that they achieve a practical mastery of the classificatory schem es which in no way implies sym bolic mastery - i.e . conscious recognition and verbal expression - of the processes practically applied. Albert B. Lord's analysis o f the acquiring of structured material in a natural environm ent, based on his study of the training of the guslar, the Y u g o s l a v bard, entirely confirm s the experim ental findings: the practical mastery of what Lord calls "the form ula, that is, the capacity to im provise by com bining "form ulae, sequences of words "regularly em ployed under the sam e metrical conditions to express a given id ea,34 is acquired through sheer familiarization, "by hearing the poem s,35 w ithout the learners having any sense o f learning and subsequently mani pulating this or that form ula or any set of form ulae:36 the constraints of rhythm are internalized at the same tim e as m elody and m eaning, w ithout being attended to for their own sake.

B etw een ap p ren ticesh ip through sim p le fam iliarization, in w h ich th e ap prentice in sen sib ly and u n con scio u sly acquires th e p rin cip les of th e "art and the art of living - in clu d in g th ose w h ich are not know n to th e producer of the p ractices or w orks im itated , and, at the other extrem e, exp licit and express tran sm ission by precept and p rescription , every society provides for structural exercises ten d in g to transm it th is or that form o f practical m astery. S uch are the riddles and ritual con tests w h ich test the " sen se o f ritual language and all th e gam es, often structured accord in g to th e logic of the wager, the ch allenge or th e com bat (d u els, grou p battles, target-shootin g.

T he dialectic o f objectification a n d embodiment


etc ) which require the b oys to set to w ork, in th e m ode o f " le ts p retend , the
chetfies gen erating the strategies of h on ou r .37 T h e n there is daily participation in gift exchan ges and all their su b tleties, w h ich the b o y s derive from their role as m essengers an d, m ore especially, as interm ediaries b etw een th e fem ale

xvofld and the m ale w orld . T h ere is silen t ob servation o f th e d iscu ssio n s in the mens assem b ly, w ith their effects o f elo q u en ce, their rituals, their
s t r a t e g ie s ,

their ritual strategies and strategic u ses o f ritual. T h ere are the

interactions w ith their relatives, w h ich lead them to ex p lo re th e structured space of ob jective kin relationships in all d irection s b y m ean s o f reversals requiring the person w h o saw him self and b ehaved as a n ep h ew o f his fath ers brother to see h im self and behave as a paternal uncle tow ards h is b rothers son, and th u s to acquire m astery o f the transform ational sch em es w h ich p erm it
the passage from th e sy stem of d isp o sitio n s attached to on e p o sitio n to the

system appropriate to the sym m etrically op p o site p o sitio n . T h ere are the lexical and gram m atical com m u tation s ( " I and " y o u d esig n a tin g the sam e person accord in g to the relation to the speaker) w h ich in stil the sen se o f the
interchangeability o f p osition s and of reciprocity as w ell as a sen se of the lim its

of each. A n d , at a d eep er level, there are th e relation ship s w ith the m oth er and the father, w h ich , b y their d yssym m etry in an tagon istic co m p lem en tarity,
constitute one of th e op p ortu n ities to in tern alize, inseparably, the sch em es

of the sexual division o f labour and of the division o f sexual labour.

But it is in th e dialectical relation ship b etw een the b o d y and a space structured accord in g to the m yth ico-ritu al o p p osition s that on e finds the form par ex cellen ce o f the structural ap pren ticesh ip w hich leads to the em -b o d y in g of the structures of th e w orld, that is, the appropriating b y the w orld o f a body th u s enabled to appropriate the w orld. In a social form ation in w h ich the absence o f th e svm b olic-p rod u ct-con servin g tech n iq u es associated w ith literacy retards the ob jectification o f sy m b o lic and particularly cultural capital, inhabited space - and above all the h ou se - is the principal lo cu s for the objectification o f the gen erative sc h e m e s; and, through th e interm ediary of the divisions and hierarchies it sets up b etw een th in gs, p ersons, and practices, this tangible classifyin g system con tin u o u sly in cu lcates and reinforces the taxonom ic p rin cip les u nd erlyin g all th e arbitrary p rovision s of this cu ltu re .38 T h us, as we have seen , the op position b etw een the sacred o f the right hand and th e sacred of th e left hand, b etw een n if and h aram , b etw een m an, ^ v ested w ith p rotective, fecun datin g virtu es, and w om an , at on ce sacred and charged w ith m aleficen t forces, and, correlatively, b etw een religion (m ale) and m agic (fem a le), is reproduced in the spatial d ivision b etw een m ale space, Wlth the place of assem b ly, the m arket, or th e fields, and fem ale sp ace, the house and its gard en , the retreats of haram . T o d iscover h ow this spatial organization (m atch ed b y a tem poral organization o b ey in g the sam e logic)


Structures an d the habitus

gov ern s practices and represen tation s - far b eyon d the frequ en tly described rough d ivision s b etw een the m ale w orld and the fem ale w orld , th e assembly and the fou n tain , p ub lic life and in tim acy - and thereby con trib utes to the durable im p osition of th e sc h e m e s o f p ercep tion , th o u g h t, and action, it j8 necessary to grasp the dialectic o f objectification and em b o d im en t in the p rivileged locu s o f th e sp ace of th e h ouse and the earliest learn ing processes. T h is analysis of the relation sh ip b etw een the ob jectified sch em es and the sch em es incorporated or b ein g incorporated p resu p p o ses a structural analysis of the social organization of th e in tern al sp ace of the h ouse and th e relation of th is internal space to external sp ace, an analysis w h ich is not an end in itself but w h ich , p recisely on accou n t of the (dan gerous) affinity betw een ob jectivism and all that is already objectified, is the on ly m eans o f fully grasping the stru cturin g stru ctu res w h ich , rem aining ob scu re to them selves, are revealed on ly in the ob jects th e y stru cture. T h e house, an opus operatum, len d s itself as su ch to a d ecip h erin g , b u t on ly to a d eciph ering w h ich does not forget that the " b o o k from w h ich th e ch ild ren learn their v isio n of the w orld is read w ith the b o d y , in and through the m o v em en ts and displacem ents w h ich make the space w ith in wr ich th ey are enacted as m uch as they are h m ade by it.
T h e interior of the Kabyle house, rectangular in shape, is divided into two parts by a low w all: the larger of these tw o parts, slightly higher than the other, is reserved for human use; the other side, occupied by the anim als, has a loft above it. A door w ith tw o w ings gives access to both room s. In the upper part is the hearth and, facing the door, the w eaving loom . T h e low er, dark, nocturnal part of the house, the place of damp, green, or raw objects - water jars set on the benches on either side of the entrance to the stable or against the "wall of darkness , w ood, green fodder - the place too of natural beings - oxen and co w s, donkeys and m ules - and natural activities sleep, sex, birth - and also of death, is opposed to the high, light-filled, noble place of humans and in particular of the guest, fire and fire-made objects, the lam p, kitchen utensils, the rifle - the attribute of the manly point of honour ( tiif) w hich protects fem ale honour ( hurma) - the loom , th e sym bol of all protection, the place also of the tw o specifically cultural activities performed w ithin the house, cooking and weaving. T he m eaning objectified in things or places is fully revealed only in the practices structured according to the sam e schem es which are organized in relation to them (and vice versa). T h e guest to be honoured (qabel, a verb also m eaning "to stand up t o , and "to face the east ) is invited to sit in front of the loom . T h e opposite wall is called the wall of darkness, or the wall of the invalid: a sick persons bed is placed next to it. T h e washing o f the dead takes place at the entrance to the stable. T h e low dark part is opposed to the upper part as the fem ale to the m ale: it is the m ost intim ate place w ithin the world o f intim acy (sexuality, fertility). T h e opposition betw een the male and the female also reappears in the opposition betw een the " master beam and the main pillar, a fork op en skywards. T h u s, the house is organized according to a set of hom ologous oppositions fire: water :: cook ed : raw :: h ig h : low :: lig h t: shade :: d a y : night :: m a le: fem ale nif: hurma:: fertilizing: able to be fertilized. But in fact the same oppositions are established between the house as a w hole and the rest of the universe, that is, the

T h e dialectic o f objectification an d embodiment


w o r l d , the place of assem bly, the fields, and the market. It follow s that each ^ th e s e two parts of the house (and, by the sam e token, each of the objects placed it a n d each of the activities carried out in it) is in a sense qualified at two degrees, If t as female (nocturnal, dark, etc.) insofar as it partakes of the universe of the U Se an<! secondarily as male or fem ale insofar as it belongs to one or the other 0 f the divisions of that universe. T h u s, for exam ple, the proverb "M an is the lamp o f the outside, wom an the lamp o f the in sid e 99 m ust be taken to mean that man is the true light, that of the day, and wom an th e light of darkness, dark brightness; an d we a* knowr that she is to the m oon as man is to the sun. But one or the other s0 o f the two system s of oppositions which define the house, either in its internal o r g a n i z a t i o n or in its relationship w ith the external w orld, is brought to the fore g r o u n d , depending on whether the house is considered from the male point of viewr o r the female point of view : whereas for th e man, the house is not so m uch a nlace he enters as a place he com es out of, m ovem ent inwards properly befits the 30


All the actions p erform ed in a space con stru cted in this way are im m ediately qualified sym b olically and fu n ctio n as so m a n y structural ex ercises through which is b u ilt up practical m astery of th e fun dam en tal sch e m e s, w h ich organize m agical practices and rep resen tation s: g o in g in and co m in g ou t, filling and em p ty in g , o p en in g and sh u ttin g , g o in g leftw ards and g o in g righ t wards, g oin g w estw ard s and g o in g eastw ard s, etc. T h ro u g h the m agic of a world of ob jects w hich is th e p rod u ct o f th e ap plication o f th e sam e sch em es to the m ost d iverse d om ain s, a w orld in w h ich each th in g speaks m etaph ori cally of all th e others, each practice co m e s to be in vested w ith an ob jective m eaning, a m ean in g w ith w h ich practices - and particularly rites - have to reckon at all tim es, w h eth er to evoke or revoke it. T h e con stru ction of the world of ob jects is clearly not the so vereign operation o f c o n scio u sn ess w h ich the n eo-K antian tradition co n ce iv e s of; the m ental stru ctures w h ich con stru ct the world o f ob jects are con stru cted in th e practice of a w orld o f ob jects constructed accord in g to th e sam e stru ctu r es .4 T h e m ind born o f th e w orld 0 of objects d oes not rise as a su b jectiv ity con fron tin g an o b jectiv ity : the objective u niverse is m ade u p of ob jects w h ich are the p rod u ct o f ob jectifyin g operations structured according to th e very stru ctures w h ich th e m in d applies

t0 it. T h e m ind is a m etaphor of the w orld of ob jects w h ich is itself b u t an

endless circle of m utually reflecting m etap h ors. All the sym b olic m anip ulations o f b od y exp erien ce, starting w ith d isp lace m ents w ith in a m yth ically structured sp a ce , e .g . the m o v em en ts of g o in g in and com in g o u t, ten d to im p ose th e integration o f the b od y sp ace w ith co sm ic space by graspin g in term s of th e sam e c o n c e p ts (and naturally at the price great laxity in logic) th e relation ship b etw e en m an and th e natural w orld and the com p lem en tarity and op p osed sta tes and action s o f th e tw o sex es in the d iv ision of sexual w ork and sexual d iv isio n o f w ork, and h en ce in th e work f biological and social rep rod u ction . F or exam p le, the o p p o sitio n b etw een


Structures an d the habitus

m o v em en t ou tw ard s tow ards th e fie ld s or th e m arket, tow ards th e production and circulation of g o o d s, and m o v em en t in w ard s, tow ards th e accum ulati0ri and con su m p tio n of th e p ro d u cts of w ork , corresp on d s sy m b o lica lly to the o p p o sitio n b etw een th e m ale b o d y , self-en clo sed and d irected towards the o u tsid e w orld , and the fem ale b o d y , resem b lin g th e dark, d am p house fu ll of fo o d , u te n sils, and ch ild ren , wr ich is en tered and left b y th e same h in evitab ly so iled o p e n in g .41 T h e op p o sitio n b etw een th e centrifugal, m ale orien tation and th e centripetal fem ale orien tation , w h ich , as w e have seen , is th e true p rin cip le of the organization of d om estic sp ace, is d o u b tless also th e b asis o f th e relationship o f each o f th e se x es to their " p s y c h e , that is, to their b o d ies and more precisely to their sexu ality. A s in every so ciety d o m in ated b y m ale values - and E u rop ean so c ietie s, w h ich assign m en to p o litics, history, or war and w o m en to th e hearth, th e n ovel, and p sy ch o lo g y , are n o ex cep tio n - the sp ecifically m ale relation to se x u a lity is that of sublim ation, th e sy m b olism of h onou r ten d in g at on ce to refuse any d irect ex p ressio n o f sex u a lity and to en cou rage its transfigured m an ifestation in th e form o f m an ly p row ess: the m en , w h o are n either co n scio u s of nor con cern ed w ith th e fem ale orgasm but seek the affirm ation o f their p oten cy in repetition rather than prolongation o f th e sexual act, are not unawr are th at, through th e interm ediary o f th e female g o ssip that th ey b oth fear and d esp ise, th e ey e s o f th e group alw ays threaten their in tim acy. A s for the w o m e n , it is true to say, w ith E rikson, that male d om in ation ten d s to "restrict their verbal c o n sc io u s n e s s 42 so lo n g as this is taken to m ean n ot that th ey are forb id d en all talk o f se x , b u t that their d iscou rse is d om in ated by th e m ale v alu es of v irility , so that all reference to specifically fem ale sexu al " in te r e sts is exclu d ed from th is aggressive and sh am e-filled cu lt o f m ale p o ten cy . P sych oan alysis, the d isen ch a n tin g p rod uct o f th e d isen ch a n tm en t of the w o rld , w h ich lead s to a d o m a in of sign ification that ism y th ica lly overdetermined to b e co n stitu ted as suchy forgets and cau ses it to b e forgotten that on e's own body and o th er p e o p le s b o d ies are o n ly ever p erceiv ed through categories of p ercep tion w h ich it w o u ld be naive to treat as sex u a l, even if, as is attested b y the wT m e n s lau ghter d u r in g con versation s, and the in terp retation s they o g iv e of grap h ic sy m b o ls - m ural p ain tin gs, p ottery or carpet d esig n s, etc. th e se categories alw ays relate back, so m etim es very co n cretely , to the o p p osition b etw een the b iologically defined p rop erties of th e tw o se x es. As naive as it w ou ld b e to reduce to th eir strictly sexu al d im en sio n th e countless acts of d iffu se in cu lcation th rou gh w h ich th e b o d y and the w orld ten d to be set in order, b y m ean s of a sy m b o lic m an ip u lation of the relation to th e body and to th e w orld aim in g to im p ose w hat has to be called , in M elan ie Klein s term , a " b o d y g e o g r a p h y , a particular case of geo g ra p h y , or better.

T h e dialectic o f objectification an d em bodim ent

9 3

sinology -4 T h e ch ild s in itial relation to its father or m o th er, or in other 3


t0 the paternal b o d y and m aternal b o d y , w h ich offers th e m ost

lC practice, can n ot be fou n d as the b asis of the acq u isitio n o f the

!f matic op portu nity to exp erien ce all th e fu n d am en tal o p p o sitio n s o f m yth oP nCiples of th e stru ctu rin g of th e ego and th e w orld, and in particular o f very hom osexual and h eterosexu al relation sh ip , excep t insofar as that initial relation is set u p w ith ob jects w h o se sex is d efin ed sy m b o lica lly and not biologically. T h e ch ild co n stru cts its sexual identity, th e m ajor elem en t in its social id en tity, at the sam e tim e as it con stru cts its im age of th e d iv isio n of orfc betw een th e se x es, o u t o f th e sam e socially d efined set o f inseparably biological and social in d ices. In other w ord s, the aw akening o f co n scio u sn ess of sexual id en tity and th e in corporation of th e d isp o sitio n s associated w ith

a determinate social d efin ition o f th e social fu n ctio n s in cu m b en t on m en and

women com e hand in hand w ith th e ad op tion of a socially d efined v isio n of the sexual d ivision of labour.
Psychologists work on the perception of sexual differences makes it clear that children establish clear-cut distin ction s very early (about age five) betw een male and female functions, assigning dom estic tasks to w om en and m others and econom ic activities to m en and fathers. Everything suggests that the awareness of sexual differences and the distinction betw een paternal and m aternal functions are constituted simultaneously. From the num erous analyses of the differential perception of mother and father it may be gathered that the father is generally seen as more com petent and more severe than the mother, w ho is regarded as " kinder and more affectionate than the father and is the object of a m ore em otional and more agreeable relationship. In fact, as Emmerich very rightly points out, underlying all these differences is the fact that children attribute more pow er to the father than to the m other.

It is not hard to im agin e th e w eigh t that m u st b e b ro u g h t to bear o n the construction o f self-im age and w orld -im age b y the o p p o sitio n b etw een masculinity and fem in in ity w h e n it co n stitu tes th e fu n d a m en ta l p rin cip le o f division o f th e social and sy m b o lic w orld . A s is em p h a sized b y th e tw ofold meaning o f th e w ord nif, sexual p o te n c y inseparable from so cia l p o ten cy , w hat is im posed th rou gh a certain social d efin ition of m alen ess (and , by d erivation , of fem alen ess), is a p olitical m y th o lo g y w h ich g overn s all b o d ily ex p erien ces, not least sexual ex p erien ces th e m selv es. T h u s , th e op p o sitio n b etw een m ale sexuality, pub lic and su b lim ated , and fem ale sex u a lity , secret an d, so to speak, alienated (w ith resp ect to E r ik so n s " u top ia of u niversal g e n ita lity , i.e . the "u topia of fu ll orgasm ic re cip r o city ) is o n ly a sp ecifica tio n o f th e opposition b etw een the extraversion o f p o litics or p u b lic religion and th e x tro v ersio n of p sy ch o lo g y or private m agic, m ad e up for th e m o st part of n tes aim ed at d o m estica tin g th e m ale p artners.
Bodily /texts is political m ythology realized, em-bodied, turned into a permanent lsposition, a durable m anner of standing, speaking, and thereby of feeling and

9 4

Structures an d the habitus

thinking. T h e oppositions w hich m ythico-ritual logic makes betw een the male ancj the fem ale and w hich organize the w hole system o f values reappear, for exam p le ^ the gestures and m ovem ents of the b od y, in the form of the opposition between the straight and the bent, or betw een assurance and restraint. " T h e Kabyle is like th heather, he w ould rather break than b e n d . T h e man of honours pace is steady and determ ined. H is way of walking, that of a man w h o know s w here he is goin g and knovv8 he will arrive in tim e, w hatever the obstacles, expresses strength and resolution, 35 opposed to the hesitant gait (th ikli thamahmahth) announcing indecision, half-hearted prom ises ( a v a l amahmah), the fear of com m itm ents and the incapacity to fulfil them At the sam e tim e it is a measured p a ce: it contrasts as m uch with the haste of the man w ho "throw s his feet up as high as his h ea d , "walks along w ith great strides " dances - running being weak and frivolous conduct - as it does w ith the sluggishness of the man w ho "trails a lo n g . T h e m anly man stands up straight and honours the person he approaches or w ishes to w elcom e by looking him right in the eves; ever on the alert, because ever threatened, he lets nothing that happens around him escape him , whereas a gaze that is up in the clouds or fixed on the ground is the mark of an irresponsible m an, w ho has nothing to fear because he has no responsibilities in his group. C onversely, a w om an is expected to walk with a slight stoop, looking down, keeping her eyes on the spot where she w ill next put her foot, especially if she happens to have to walk past the thajma'th; her gait m ust avoid the excessive sw in g of the hips which com es from a heavy stride; she m ust always be girdled with the thimehremth, a rectangular piece of cloth w ith yellow , red, and black stripes worn over her dress, and take care that her headscarf does not com e unknotted, revealing her hair. In short, the specifically fem inine virtue, lahia, m odesty, restraint, reserve, orients the w hole fem ale b ody dow nwards, tow ards the ground, the inside, the house, whereas male excellence, nif, is asserted in m ovem ent upwards, outwards, towards other m en.

If all so c ietie s and, sign ifican tly, all the "totalitarian in stitu tio n s , in G off m an s p hrase, that seek to produce a n ew m an through a process of " d ec u ltu ra tio n and " r ec u ltu ra tio n set su ch store on the se em in g ly most in sign ifican t d etails of dress, bearing, p hysical and verbal manners, th e reason is th at, treatin g th e b ody as a m em ory, they en tru st to it in ab breviated and practical, i.e . m n em o n ic, form th e fu n d am en ta l p rin cip les o f th e arbitrary co n ten t of th e cu ltu re. T h e p rin cip les em -b o d ied in th is w ay are p laced beyond th e grasp of co n sc io u sn e ss, and h en ce cannot b e to u ch ed b y voluntary, d elib erate tran sform ation , can n ot even be m ade ex p licit; n o th in g se em s more in effab le, m ore in co m m u n ica b le, m ore in im ita b le, and, th erefo re, more p reciou s, than th e v alu es g iv en b o d y , m ade b o d y b y th e transubstantiation ach ieved b y th e h id d en p ersuasion of an im p licit p ed a g o g y , capable of in stillin g a w h o le co sm o lo g y , an eth ic, a m etap h y sic, a p olitical p h ilosop h y, through in ju n ction s as in sign ifican t as " stand u p straigh t or " d o n t hold your knife in you r left h a n d .44 T h e lo g ic of sc h e m e transfer w h ich m akes each tech n iq u e o f th e b ody a sort o f pa rs totalis, p red isp osed to fu n ctio n in accordance w ith th e fallacy p a rs p ro totot and h en ce to evok e th e w h o le system o f w h ich it is a part, gives a very general sco p e to the se em in g ly m ost circu m scrib ed and circu m stan tial ob servan ces. T h e w h o le trick o f p edagogic

The dialectic o f objectification and em bodiment


reason I*68 precisely in the w ay it extorts th e essen tial w h ile se em in g to dem and the in sign ifican t: in o b tain in g th e respect for form and form s o f resp ect w h ich constitute th e m ost v isib le and at th e sam e tim e th e b est-h id d en (b ecau se most * n a tu ra l) m an ifestation o f su b m issio n to th e esta b lish ed order, th e
in c o r p o r a t io n

o f th e arbitrary ab olish es w hat R aym on d R uyer calls " lateral

possibilities , that is, all th e eccen tricities and d evia tio n s w h ich are th e sm all change o f m ad n ess. T h e co n cessio n s o f politeness alw ays con tain p o litica l
c o n c e s s io n s .

T h e term obsequium u sed by S p in o za to d en o te th e " con stan t

*iH" produced by th e co n d itio n in g through w h ich " th e S ta te fash ion s u s for

its own use and w hich en ab les it to s u r v iv e 4 co u ld be reserved to d esign ate 5 the public testim o n ies of recogn ition w h ich every grou p ex p ec ts o f its members (especially at m om en ts of co -o p tio n ), that is, th e sy m b o lic taxes d ue from individuals in the ex ch an ges w h ich are set up in every grou p b etw een th e individuals and th e grou p . B ecau se, as in g ift ex ch a n g e, th e ex ch a n g e is an end in itself, the trib u te d em an d ed b y th e grou p gen erally co m es d o w n to a matter o f trifles, that is, to sy m b o lic rituals (rites of passage, th e cerem on ials
o f etiquette,

e t c .) , form alities and form alism s w h ich " cost n o th in g to perform n atu ra l th in g s to d em and (" It's th e least on e can d o . . . :

and seem su ch
or a ch a llen g e.4*

It w ou ld n t cost h im an yth in g t o . . . ) that ab sten tio n a m o u n ts to a refusal T hrou gh th e habitus, th e stru ctu re w h ich has p rod uced it g o v ern s practice, not by th e p rocesses of a m ech an ical d eterm in ism , b ut th ro u g h th e m ed iation

of the orien tation s and lim its it assign s to th e habitus's op eration s of invention.47 A s an acquired system o f gen erative sch em es o b jectiv ely adjusted to the particular co n d itio n s in w h ich it is co n stitu ted , th e h ab itu s en gen d ers all the th ou gh ts, all th e p ercep tio n s, and all th e action s co n siste n t w ith th ose conditions, and no oth ers. T h is paradoxical product is difficult to co n ceiv e, even in con ceivab le, o n ly so lo n g as on e rem ains locked in th e d ilem m a o f determinism and freed om , co n d itio n in g and creativity (lik e C h om sk y, for example, w h o th ou gh t th e on ly escap e from B loom fieldian b eh aviou rism lay in seek ing " fre ed o m and ' cr ea tiv ity in th e " str u c tu re - i.e . th e " n a tu r e
of th e hum an m in d ). B ecause the h abitus is an en d less cap acity to en gen d er

products - th ou gh ts, p ercep tio n s, exp ressio n s, action s - w h o se lim its are set
bV the h istorically and socially situated co n d itio n s o f its p ro d u ctio n , the

conditioned and con d ition al freed om it secu res is as rem ote from a creation
u npredictable n ovelty as it is from a sim p le m ech an ical reprodu ction of the initial c o n d itio n in g s .4 8

G e n e ra tiv e sch em es an d p ractical lo g ic : in ve n tio n w ith in lim its

T h e opposite gesture, that o f inverting a sp oon , sh ou ld autom atically, as it w ere, provoke a contrary action. T h is is what the w ife of a fqih does, among the M tougga, to ward off im m inent rainfall. E . L aoust, M ots et choses berberes " I think I ve made a new theological d isc o v e ry . . . " What is it ? " If you hold your hands upside dow n, you get the opposite of what you pray fo r ! Charles M . S ch u lz, There's N o One L ike You, Snoopy M an differs from other anim als in that he is the one m ost given to mim icry ( mimetikotaton) and learns his first lessons through m im esis (d ia mimeseos). Aristotle, Poetics, 1448b

O b jectivism co n stitu tes the social w orld as a sp ecta cle p resen ted to an observer w h o takes up a " p o in t of v ie w on th e action , w h o sta n d s back so as to ob serve it an d, tran sferrin g in to th e ob ject th e p rin cip les o f h is relation to th e o b ject, c o n ce iv e s of it as a to ta lity in te n d ed for co g n itio n alo n e, in which
a ll

in teraction s are red u ced to sy m b o lic ex ch a n g es. T h is p o in t o f v iew is the

on e afforded b y h ig h p o sitio n s in th e social stru ctu re, from w h ich the social w orld appears as a rep resen tation (in the sen se of idealist p h ilo so p h y b u t also as u sed in p ain tin g or the th eatre) and p ractices are n o m ore than " e x e c u tio n s , stage parts, perform an ces of scores, or the im p lem en tin g o f p lans. W ith the M arx o f the Theses on Feuerbach, th e th eory of practice as p ractice insists, against p o sitiv ist m aterialism , that th e ob jects of k n o w led g e are constructed, and against idealist in tellectu a lism , that th e p rin cip le o f th is co n stru ctio n is practical a ctiv ity orien ted tow ards practical fu n ctio n s. It is p o ssib le to a b a n d o n th e sovereign p oin t o f view from w h ich o b jectiv ist id ealism ord ers th e w orld, w ith o u t b ein g forced to relin q u ish th e "active asp ect o f ap p reh en sio n o f the w orld by red u cin g co g n itio n to a m ere record in g: it suffices to situ ate on eself w ithin "real activity as s u c h , i.e . in th e practical relation to th e w o rld , the q u a si-b o d ilv " a im in g w h ich en tails no rep resen ta tio n o f eith er th e b o d y or th e w orld , still less o f their relation sh ip , that a ctiv e p resen ce in th e w orld th ro u gh w h ich th e w orld im p o ses its p resen ce, w ith its u rg en cies, its th in gs to b e d o n e or said , th in g s " m a d e to be said and said "to be d o n e , w hich

[9 1 6

T h e calen dar an d the synoptic illusion


directly com m an d w ord s and d eed s w ith o u t ever d ep lo y in g th e m se lv e s as a

spectacle. The a rgu m en ts that have d ev elo p ed as m u ch am on g a n th ro p o lo g ists (eth n o science) as am on g so c io lo g ists (eth n o m e th o d o lo g y ) around classification s and classificatory sy stem s have on e th in g in co m m o n : th ey forget that th ese

instruments of cogn itio n fulfil as su ch fu n ctio n s other than th o se o f pure cognition. Practice alw ays im p lies a co g n itiv e op eration , a practical operation 0f construction w h ich se ts to w ork, b y reference to practical fu n ctio n s, systems of classification (ta x o n o m ies) w h ich organ ize p ercep tio n and structure practice. P rod u ced b y th e p ractice of su cc essiv e gen era tio n s, in co n d itio n s of existence o f a d eterm in ate ty p e , th ese sc h e m e s o f p ercep tio n , ap p reciation , and action, w h ich are acq u ired th rou gh practice and ap plied in their practical state w ith ou t a cced in g to ex p lic it rep resen tation , fu n ctio n as practical op era tors through w h ich th e ob jective stru ctu res of w h ich th e y are the p ro d u ct ten d to reproduce th em selv es in practices. Practical taxon o m ies, in stru m en ts o f cognition and com m u n ica tio n w h ich are th e p reco n d itio n for th e esta b lish ment of m ea n in g and the co n se n su s on m ean in g, exert th eir structuring efficacy only to th e ex ten t that th ey are th em selv es structured. T h is d o es not m ean that they can b e ad eq u ately treated by "structu ral , " co m p o n en tia l , or any other form of strictly internal an alysis w h ich , in artificially w ren ch in g th em from their co n d itio n s o f p rod u ction and u se, in ev ita b ly fails to und erstan d their social fu n c tio n s .1
T h e co h eren ce to be ob served in all p ro d u cts of the ap p lication o f the sam e habitus has n o other basis than th e co h eren ce w h ich th e gen erative p rin cip les con stitutin g th at h ab itu s ow e to th e social stru ctu res (stru ctu res o f relation s between grou p s - th e se x es or age-classes - or b etw een social cla sses) of w h ich they are th e p rod u ct and w h ich , as D u rk h eim and M au ss saw , th ey ten d to reproduce .2 T h e practical op erators w h ich co n stitu te th e h ab itu s and w h ich function in th eir practical state in gestu re or u tterance rep rod u ce in a trans form ed fo rm , in sertin g th e m in to th e stru ctu re o f a sy stem o f sy m b o lic relations, the o p p o sitio n s and h ierarchies w h ich actu ally organ ize social groups, and w h ich th ey h elp to leg itim ate by p resen tin g th em in a m isrecognizable form .

T h e calen dar an d the synoptic illusion A nalysis o f th e agrarian calendar w ill en ab le u s to d em o n stra te, b y a sort of proof p e r absurdum , th e error w h ich resu lts from th e in tellectu a list theory f social sy stem s o f classification . O w in g to th e extrem ely im p ortan t social fu n ction w h ich it fu lfils in orchestratin g th e g rou p 's a ctiv ity , th e calendar is indeed o n e o f th e m ost cod ified asp ects o f social e x iste n c e .3 T h e organ ization


G en erative schemes an d practical logic

of practices is n ot entrusted in th is case ex clu siv ely to th e practical schem es of th e habitus: it is the object of exp licit in ju n ction s and express recom m en d ation s, sayin gs, p roverbs, and taboos, servin g a fu n ction analogous to that perform ed in a different order b y custom ary rules or gen ea lo g ies. A lthough th ey are never m ore than rationalization s d evised for sem i-scholarly purposes, th ese m ore or less cod ified ob jectification s are, o f all the products of habitus structured in accordancc w ith the prevailing sy stem of classification, those w h ich are socially recogn ized as the m ost representative and su ccessfu l, those w orthiest of b ein g preserved b y the collectiv e m em ory; and so they are them selves organized in accordance w ith th e stru ctures co n stitu tin g that sy stem of classification . T h e y thereby com e to be en d ow ed w ith a com m on " p h y sio g n o m y rend erin g them im m ed iately " in te llig ib le for any agent eq u ipp ed w ith the " s e n s e o f lin gu istic an d /or m y th ic roots, and are thus pred isp osed to m ake u p for th e lap ses or u ncertain ties o f the habitus by settin g out cod ified references and strict g u id e lin e s .4 W hat on e derives from q u estio n in g in form an ts, thereby in vitin g th em to adopt a q uasi-scien tific attitu de, is a m ixtu re, in variable p rop ortions, of know ledges draw n from on e or th e other o f th e available traditions w hich, ex cep t w hen m echan ically reprodu ced, is selected and o ften reinterpreted in term s o f the sch em es o f the h abitus and of representations produced a d hoc from the sam e sch em es. A s soon as on e undertakes to draw u p a synoptic calendar w h ich co m b in es th e features m ost freq u en tly attested and indicates the m ost im portant variants (instead o f p resen tin g a sin g le calendar chosen for the sake o f its particular " q u a lity , or a set o f particular calendars) one com es up against a prim ary d iffic u lty : id en tical p eriods are g iv en different nam es, and still m ore often , id en tical nam es cover periods varying con si derably in length and situ ated at different tim es in the year, d ep en d in g on the region, th e trib e, th e village, and even the inform ant. M oreover, at two different p oin ts in the sam e con versation, an inform ant m ay offer tw o different nam es (e.g . on e B erber, on e draw n from th e Islam ic tradition) for the same m o m en t of th e year. T h ere is a great tem p tation to am ass and collate th ese different productions in order to con stru ct a lacuna-free, con trad iction -free wT o le, a sort o f unwritten h score of w hich all th e calendars d erived from in form an ts are then regarded as im perfect, im p overish ed perform ances .5 T h e p rob lem is that th e calendar cannot be u nd erstood u nless it is set d ow n on paper, and that it is im possible to understand h ow it w orks u n less on e fully realizes that it exists o n ly on paper (see fig. 2).8 M oreover, wr hen it is a m atter o f transm itting all the useful inform ation as q u ick ly as p ossib le, there is no m ore efficient and c o n v e n i e n t w ay than a linear narrative, w h ich perm its the rapid u n fo ld in g o f th e su cces sion of " p erio d s and " m o m e n ts (treatin g rival accoun ts as " v a ria n ts).

io o

G en erative schemes an d practical logic

M ost in form an ts sp o n ta n eo u sly make th e year start w ith autum n ( lakhrif) F or som e of th em , the season starts around the ist o f S ep tem b er in the Julian calendar; for others, it starts on about the

15th of A u g u st, on the day called

"th e door of the y ea r ( thabburth usugas), w h ich marks th e entry in to the wet p eriod, after the d o gd ays o f sm aim and at the b eg in n in g of la k h rif: on that day, each fam ily sacrifices a cock, and associations and con tracts are renewed. But for other in form an ts, th e " d oor of the y e a r is th e first day o f ploughing ( lahlal natsharats or lah lal n thagersa), the m ost d ecisiv e tu rn in g -p o in t of the transitional period. T h e tillage period (u su ally called lah lal, but so m etim es hartadem ) begins w ith the first d ays p lo u g h in g (azvdjeb), after an ox b o u g h t co llectiv ely has been sacrificed ( thimechret) and the m eat shared out am ongst all the m em bers of the co m m u n ity (adhrum or villa g e). P lou gh in g and so w in g , w h ich begin im m ediately after the inaugural cerem on y (w h ich is also a rain-m aking rite), as soon as the land is su fficien tly m o ist, m ay go on u n til m id -D ecem b er or even lon ger, d ep en d in g on th e region and the year.
It is doubtless incorrect to speak of lahlal as a p erio d : this term , and the corresponding tem poral unit, are defined practically, within the universe of the wet season, in opposition to lakhrif (ploughing and sow ing being opposed to the picking and drying of the figs, gardening work in thabhirth, the sum m er garden, and w ith la la f, the special attention given to th e oxen weakened by treading ou t, so as to prepare them for ploughing) ; but w ithin th e same universe it may also be defined in opposition to lyali, the slack m om ent in w inter. W ithin a quite different logic it can also be contrasted w ith all the other periods held to be licit for a particular type of work which w ould be haram (the illicit) if done outside those periods: for exam ple, lahlal lafth, the licit period for sow ing turnips (from the seventeenth day of autum n, the 3rd of Septem ber in the Julian calendar), lahlal yifer, the licit period for stripping the fig-trees (the end of Septem ber), etc.

F or so m e in form an ts, w in ter b egin s on the

15th o f N o v em b er, for others

on th e ist of D ec em b e r, w ith o u t any sp ecial rite (w h ich ten ds to sh o w that the o p p o sitio n b etw een a u tu m n and w in ter is not stro n g ly m arked) .7 T h e heart o f w inter is called ly a li} th e n igh ts, "a period of forty d a y s , w ith in w hich a d istin ction is alm ost alw ays draw n b etw een tw o equal parts, ly a li thimellalinef the w h ite n igh ts, and ly a li thiberkanine, the black n ig h ts (a d istinction w h ich , as is su gg ested b y its range of ap plications, is the p rod u ct o f an en tirely abstract, form al p rin cip le of d ivision , althou gh inform ants find jus tification s for it in clim atic ch an ges). O n ce the autum n w ork is over, the peasants keep th e m selv es b u sy , repairing their tools w hen th ey cannot leave th e h ou se, gath erin g grass and leaves for the cattle, and clearing the paths after heavy sn ow falls. T h is is the slack season o f the year, contrasted, as su ch , w ith sm aim , the slack p eriod of th e dry season , or, as w e have seen , w ith lahlaU a tim e of in ten se a ctivity; but it is con trasted in another resp ect w ith the

T he calen dar and the synoptic illusion

10 1

ransition from w in ter to sp rin g (essba't or essubu', the " s e v e n s ); and from et a n o t h e r point of v iew , th e se are th e "great n ig h ts (ly a li kbira) as op posed ^ t h e l e s s er n ig h ts (ly a li esghira) o f February and M arch, to th e " sh ep h erd s nights a n d to the " n igh ts o f H a y a n . T h e first day of ennayer (January), in the depth o f w in ter, is m arked by a w h ole set o f renew al rites and taboos (in particular on sw eep in g an d w ea v in g ), w h ich som e inform an ts extend to the w hole period of issemaden (th e cold d ays) ru n n in g from late D ecem b er to early January. T h e end of ly a li is m arked by the ritual celebration of el'a zla gennayer,
s e p a r a t io n

from ennayer: life has em erged on the face of the earth, th e first

shoots are appearing on th e trees, it is "th e o p e n in g (el ftuh ). T h e farm er goes out into th e fields and se ts up oleander b ranches, w h ich have th e pow er to drive away m aras, the cockchafer g r u b ; as h e d oes so , he savs, " C om e o u t, maras! T h e khammes is g o in g to kill y o u ! O n the sam e day, it is said, the peasants g o to their stables b efore sunrise and sh ou t in th e ears of the oxen : "G ood new s! E n n ayer is over! S om e in form an ts say 'a zri} the bachelor, for 'azla ("because from that day on , sp rin g is co m in g , and m arriages start to be celebrated ), w ith a sort o f play on w ords w hich is no d ou b t also a play on m ythic roots. T h is is b eg in n in g of a lo n g transitional p eriod, a tim e of waiting, covered by a term in o lo g y as rich as it is con fu sed : w hereas autu m n is "a w h o le , as on e in form an t p u t it, th e passage from w inter to spring is a patchwork of m o m en ts w h ich are ill d efin ed , alm ost all m a lig n , and variously named.
Thus, the term thimgharine, the old w om en, or thamgharth, the old w om an,8 also known as amerdil (the loan) in Great Kabvlia, denotes either the m om ent of transition from one m onth to another (from D ecem ber to January, or January to February, or February to March, and even, at Ain A ghbel, from March to A pril), or the m om ent of transition from winter to spring. Husum, a learned term of Arabic origin, referring to a sura of the Koran, coexists w ith hayan (or ahgan) to denote the passage from furar to maghres. 9 But the logic o f m agic insists that it is never possible to know exactly which is the most unpropitious m om ent in a period which is uncertain as a w h o le,10 so that the terms thimgharine or husum, relating to highly unpropitious periods, are som etim es used to denote the w hole transitional period from late January to m id-M arch: *n this case, they are made to include the four " w eek s which divide up the m onth of February, known collectively as essba't ("the se v e n s) , i.e. el mivalah (som etim es called \mirghane), the salt days; el quarah, the pungent days; elsw a la h , the benign days; l fyjatah, the open d ays.11 As the nam es of this series them selves testify, we find here, as in the case of the nights of January, one o f the sem i-explicit dichotom ies which always involve an attempt at rationalization: the first two periods are m align and come the end of winter; the last tw o are benign and com e at the beginning of spring, n the sam e way, inform ants w ho identify husum w ith the fortnight straddling the end f January and the beginning o f February, concentrating within it all the features characteristic of the period as a w h ole, distinguish a first, dangerous week and a second, j^ore favourable week. And sim ilarly, num erous inform ants (especially in the jurdjura region) distinguish tw o ahgans (or hayans) - ahgan bu akii, the hayan of

10 2

G en era tive schemes a n d p ra ctica l logic

the N egro, seven intensely cold days d uring w hich work is su sp en d ed , and ahgQ tl hari, the hayan of the freem an, seven days in w hich everything on earth comesK u to life . D u rin g " hayan w eek (th e first w eek of M arch), life com p letes its work. Man m not disturb it by goin g into the fields or orch ard s.12 T h e anim als too seem to ^ com pleted their grow th: w eaning (el h iya z) is carried out at the end of hayan weej.' on the day of the spring eq u in ox (a d h w a l gitij, the len gth en in g o f the su n ). A tin ca^ is struck to make a noise w hich w ill prevent the oxen - w ho can understand human speech on that day - from hearing what is said about " th e len gth en in g of t h e davg for if they heard it, they w ould take fright at having to work harder. By virtue o f position, husum (or hayan) is endow ed w ith an inaugural - and augural - character very sim ilar to that conferred on the m orning, in th e cycle of the day (for e x a m p l e , if does not rain, the wells w ill not be full all year; if it rains, that is a sign o f p le n ty if there is snow at the b egin n in g, there will be m any partridge e g g s ); it is th e r e f o r e an occasion for acts of propitiation (alm sgivin g) and divination.

O n ce th e d ays of th e old w om an and husum are ov er, th e flock is reckoned to be sa v ed : it is now el fw a ta h , th e tim e for c o m in g o u t, th e tim e o f births, b o th on th e cu ltivated land an d a m o n g th e flock , an d th e y o u n g lin g s are no lo n g er th reaten ed b y th e rigou rs o f w in ter. T h e first day o f sp rin g ( thafsuth), th e feast o f g reen n ess and in fa n c y ,13 has already b een celeb ra ted . A ll the ritual o f th is inaugural day of an augural p eriod is p laced u n d er th e sig n of jo y and o f o b jects that b rin g g o o d fo rtu n e and p rosp erity . T h e ch ild ren g o ou t into th e field s to m ee t sp rin g . In th e o p en air th ey w ill eat a se m o lin a o f grilled cereals an d b utter. T h e c o u sc o u s served on that d ay is co ok ed in th e steam o f a broth co n ta in in g a dh ris (seksu w a d h ris) , th ap sia, a p lant w h ich causes sw e llin g . T h e w om en ab an d on th e tab oos o f th e p lo u g h in g p erio d and dye th eir h an d s w ith hen na. T h e y g o off in g ro u p s o f fifteen or tw e n ty and bring back heath sh ru b s to m ake b ro o m s, th e eu p h e m is tic n am e for w hich is th a farah th , from f a r ah , joy, and w h ich , m ade in joy, w ill b rin g joy. T h e d a y s grow lon ger. T h e r e is n ot m u ch w ork to b e d o n e (apart from tillage in the fig o rc h a r d s); m an has to w ait for life to d o its w ork . " I n M arch , th ey say in G reat K ab ylia, " g o an d look at yo u r cro p s, and take a g o o d lo o k ; and e ls e w h e r e :" the su n o f th e flow erin g [of th e lo n g -a w a ited p eas an d beans] em p tie s th e d o u a r T h e fo o d sto ck s are ex h a u sted , and th e le n g th e n in g of th e d ays is accen tuated b y th e ban on g o in g ou t in to th e field s (natah is not over) and o n eatin g b ean s or oth er green v eg eta b les. H e n c e th e proverbs: "M arch ( maghres) clim b s like a h ills id e ; an d " T h e d a y s o f M arch are sev en -sn ack d a y s. W ith natah or thiftirine, th e tran sition al p eriod co m e s to an e n d . T h ese term s, w h ich d en ote th e sam e p eriod to w ith in a few d ays, are b o th o f Arabic origin and are rarely k n ow n to th e p easan ts o f th e D jurdjura reg io n (w here h a ya n , or rather ahgan, as it is k now n lo cally, has sh ifte d to th is tim e o f the yea r). D u r in g natch " th e trees are sh aken and knock to g e th e r ; excessive

T h e calen dar a n d the syn optic illusion

10 3

is likely, and th e w eath er is so cold th at " th e boar sh iv er s in its la ir 5 *.

husum , there is a ban o n en terin g th e cu ltiv a ted field s and th e orchards

fear o f ca u sin g th e d eath o f a p erson or an a n im a l). F or natah is also the on of n atu res a w ak en in g, o f th e b lo sso m in g o f cro p s, life , and m arriages. It is the m om en t for w e d d in g s an d village fe a sts .14A n d s o , b y a fam iliar d ev ice, gome in form an ts d iv id e thiftirin e or natah in to an u n fa v o u ra b le p erio d , in March ( th e d ifficu lt d a y s ) and a favourable p eriod (" th e easy d a y s ) in April-

The passage from th e w et season to th e dry season is effected ritually and collectively, d u rin g n atah, o n th e day o f tharurith v ia z a l (th e return o f a z a l ),15 on a date wT ich varies from region to region b ecau se o f clim a tic differen ces, h coming eith er in M arch, after w ea n in g , el h iy a z , or in A p ril, at sh ea rin g tim e or just after, or, at th e v ery latest, at th e b e g in n in g of M ay: fro m th at day on, the flock, w h ich up to th en w en t o u t late in th e m o rn in g and cam e back relatively early, leaves early in th e m o rn in g , co m e s back and g o es o u t again in the early a ftern o o n , and retu rn s at su n se t.
T he bad w eath er is o ver for g o o d ; th e green fields an d th e g a rd en s are now ready to receive th e rays o f th e su n . T h is is th e start o f th e cy c le of d ryn ess

and ripenin g; w ith ibril, a p articu larly b en eficen t m on th (" A p ril is a dow'nw'ard slope), a trou b le-free p eriod o f relative p len ty b eg in s. W ork o f all sorts starts up again: in th e field s, wT here th e critical p eriod o f g ro w th is ov er, th e m en can start th e h o ein g , the o n ly im p ortan t activ ity (w h ich u sed to b e in augu rated by the a b d u ction of M ata, th e " brid e o f th e field , a rite in te n d ed to call dow n the rain n eed ed for th e ears of th e corn to d e v e lo p ) ; in th e gard en s, th e first beans are p ick ed . D u r in g th e p eriod o f nisany w h o se b en eficen t rain, b rin gin g fertility and p rosp erity to every liv in g th in g , is in vok ed wr ith all so rts o f rites, the sh eep are sh orn and th e n ew lam b s are b ran d ed . T h e fact that nisan, like all transitional p erio d s (n atah , for e x a m p le ), is an a m b ig u o u s p erio d , ill defined in relation to th e o p p o sitio n b etw e en th e dry and th e w e t, is here expressed not in a d iv isio n in to tw o p eriod s, o n e a u sp icio u s an d the other inauspicious, b u t b y th e ex iste n c e o f in a u sp icio u s m o m e n ts ( eddbagh , th e 1 st of M ay, at a m ysterio u s h our k n ow n to n o n e ), m arked b y various taboos (pruning or graftin g, celeb ra tin g w e d d in g s, w h ite w a sh in g h o u se s, settin g up *he lo o m , se ttin g eg g s to b e h atch ed , e t c .) . A s th e p eriod k n ow n as ize g za w e n " th e green d a y s co m e s to an en d , th e last traces o f g reen ery fade from th e la n d sc a p e ; th e cerea ls, wr ich had b een h as 'te n d e r ( th aleqaqth ) as a n ew -b o rn b a b y , n ow b eg in to tu rn y e llo w . T h e changing ap pearan ce o f th e corn field s is in d icated b y th e n a m es of th e ten or seven -d ay p erio d s in to wT ich th e m o n th o f magu (or m ayu) is d iv id e d . A fter h l*egzaw en co m e iw ragh en , th e yellow* d a y s, im ellalen, th e w h ite d a y s, and tquranen, th e dry d ays. S u m m e r (anebdhu) has b eg u n . T h e ch aracteristic tasks


G en erative schemes an d practica l logic

o f the w et sea so n , tillage (in th e fig orchards) and so w in g , w h ich is p erm itted in the "green d a y s , are ab so lu tely b ann ed from the p eriod known as th e " y ello w d a y s. T h e o n ly con cern is to p rotect th e rip en in g crops against th e dangers w h ich threaten th em (hail, b ird s, lo cu sts, e tc .). T h e means u sed again st predators - sh o w ers o f sto n e s, sh o u ts (ah ah i), scarecrow s th e co llec tiv e ex p u lsion rites (asifedh) that are in ten d ed to transfer the m align an t forces from th e territory to b e p rotected in to a cave, b u sh , or heap o f sto n e s, after " fixing th em on o b jects (d o lls) or an im als (e.g . a pair o f birds) w h ich are th e n sacrificed, are sim p ly ap p lica tio n s o f the sch em e of " tran sferen ce o f e v il w h ich is se t to w ork in th e treatm en t o f a large number of d iseases - fever, m ad n ess (p o ssessio n b y a d jin ), sterility - and also in rites p erform ed on fixed dates in certain villages. A cco rd in g to m o st in form an ts, su m m er b eg in s on th e sev en teen th day of the m o n th of m agu, also called mut el ardh " th e d ea th o f th e la n d .16 By the last day o f iquraranen, k n ow n as "a fiery em b er has fallen into th e w ater (thagli thirgith egw am an ), an exp ression w h ich allu d es to th e tem p erin g o f iron, th e action p rop er to th e sm ith , ev eryon e sh o u ld have started harvesting ( essaif) , w h ich is com p leted around in sla, the day o f th e su m m er solstice

(24 J u n e ), w h en purificatory fires are lit ev e ry w h er e .17 W hen treading-out

and w in n o w in g are co m p leted , th e forty d ogd ays o f smaim b egin and w ork is su sp en d ed (just as it is in ly a li, a p eriod to w h ich smaim is always o p p o se d ).18 In o p p o sitio n to the h arvestin g and tread in g-o u t, la k h rif is seen as a slack p eriod in th e agrarian year, or rather in th e grain cy cle. I t is also a period d ev o ted to rest an d to th e celeb ration s of a p len tifu l h a rv est ;19 as w ell as the n ew ly h arvested grain th ere are figs, grap es, and various fresh vegetables, to m a toes, sw eet p ep p ers, g o u rd s, m elo n s, etc . L a k h r if is so m etim es said to b egin in m id -A u g u st, at thissemtith (from sem ti, to start rip en in g ), th e m om ent w hen th e first ripe figs appear, and el haq " th e la w is im p osed - a ban on fig-p ick in g, ev e n from o n e s o w n trees, w ith fines for d iso b ed ien ce. W hen ichakhen co m es round (ichakh lakh rif, it is la k h rif ev ery w h ere), th e fig -h arv est is at its peak, an d th e m e n , th e w o m e n , and th e ch ild ren are all kep t busy; th e is t o f O ctob er is lah al y ife r (o f th e le a v es), and n ow th e leaves m ay be strip p ed from th e fig-trees (ach raw , from chrew, to strip ) to feed th e oxen. T h is d ate is the signal for th e "w ith d raw al of lif e , the work o f iqachachen (" th e last d a y s ), w h ich are d ev o ted to a th orou gh clea n in g o f th e kitchen g ard en s, orchards, and fields, w ith thaqachachth la k h rif (th e last fruit is shaken from th e trees and the rem ain in g leaves are strip p ed off) and " th e rooting u p of th e g a r d e n . W hen all traces o f life p ersistin g in th e fields after the harvest have th u s been rem oved , th e land is ready for p lo u g h in g . T h is lin ear diagram o f th e agrarian year (lik e all d isco u rse) at o n ce m asks

T h e calen dar an d the synoptic illusion d reveals th e d ifficulties that are en cou n tered as soo n as o n e ceases to take
actical relations o f an alogy or h o m o lo g y sin g ly (or in pairs) and su cc essiv ely , and e n d e a v o u r s in stead to fix th em sim u lta n eo u sly so as to cu m u la te th em
s y s te m a tic a lly .

T h e se d ifficu lties w o u ld , n o d o u b t, not m erit our atten tion

(in sp ite o f th e trou b le and tim e th ey have co st) w ere it not that, as w ith ,
jn an oth er order, the statistical an alysis o f g en ea lo g ies, th ey have the effect
0 f fo rcin g

u s to call in to q u estio n the very op eration w h ich g ave rise to th em .

Rigour d em ands n ot that o n e sh o u ld o cc lu d e th ese co n tra d ictio n s b y m ean s of som e rhetorical or m ath em atical d ev ic e, so as to fall into lin e w ith the rules of the p rofession , but rather that on e sh o u ld m ake th em th e object of a reflection capable of d isco v e rin g in th em b oth th e logic o f the practical use of tem poral o p p o sitio n s (from w h ich the con tra d ictio n s arise) a n d , inseparably from th is, th e p rin cip le of th e tran sm u tation to w h ich scholarly ob jectifica

tion su b jects this logic. Just as gen ealogy su b stitu tes a sp ace of u n eq u ivoca l, h o m o g en eo u s rela tionships, estab lish ed o n ce and for all, for a sp atially and tem p orally d isc o n tinuous set of island s of k in sh ip , ranked and organized to su it the n eed s of the m om ent and b rou gh t in to practical e x iste n c e gradually and in term itten tly , and just as a m ap replaces th e d isco n tin u o u s, p atchy space o f practical p ath s by the h o m o g e n e o u s, co n tin u o u s sp ace o f g eo m etry , so a calen dar su b stitu tes a linear, h om o g en eo u s, c o n tin u o u s tim e for practical tim e, w h ich is m ade up of in com m en su rab le islan d s o f d u ration , each w ith its ow n rh y th m , th e tim e that flies b y or drags, d e p e n d in g on w hat o n e is doing, i.e . o n th e fu n c tions con ferred on it b y th e activ ity in p rogress. By d istrib u tin g gu ide-m arks (cerem onies and tasks) alon g a co n tin u o u s lin e, o n e turns th em in to d ivid in g marks u n ited in a relation o f sim p le su cc essio n , thereby creatin g ex nihilo the question o f the in tervals and corresp o n d en ces b etw een p o in ts w h ich are no longer to p ologically b u t m etrically eq u iv a len t.
Proof that lyali, which every inform ant m entions, is not "a period of forty d a y s (all that is said is "W e are entering ly a li) but a sim ple scansion of passing tim e, is found in the fact that different inform ants ascribe to it different durations and different d a te s: one of them even situates the first day of ennayer both in the m iddle of w inter and in the m iddle o f ly a li, although he d oes not set ly a li in the (geom etric) middle of winter, thereby dem onstrating that the practical grasp of the structure w hich leads him to think of lyali as the winter of winter overrides calculative reason. A num ber f ill-defined guide-m arks (e .g . the "old w o m e n ) shift according to the region and the inform ant, but never beyond the bounds o f w inter. T h e sam e logic is found in *he belief that it is im possible to know exactly w hen a certain action should be avoided, the " p eriod b ein g nothing other than the field of uncertainty betw een two guide-marks. A question as innocuous in appearance as "And what com es n ex t? , ^ v itin g an inform ant to situate tw o " periods in relation to one another in a continuous time (w hich does no more than state what the genealogical or chronological diagram does im plicitly), has the effect of im posing an attitude to tem porality w hich is the exact

io 6

G en erative schemes an d practica l logic

opposite of the attitude involved practically in the ordinary use of tem poral terms Q uite apart from the form w hich the questioning m ust take so as to elicit an ordered sequ en ce of answ ers, everything about the inquiry relationship itself betrays the interrogator's "theoretical (i.e . "non-practical ) disposition and invites th e interrogatee to adopt a quasi-theoretical attitude: the situation in w hich the interrogation is carried on rules out any reference to the use and conditions of use of th e temporal guide-m arks; the interrogation itself tacitly substitutes for d iscontinuous marks intended to be used for practical ends, the calendar as an object o f thought, predisposed to becom e an object o f discourse and to be unfolded as a totality ex istin g beyond its "applications and independently of the needs and interests o f its u sers. This explains w hy inform ants w ho are invited to give the calendar often start by setting out the scholarly series of successive units, such as mtvalah, rw alah, and fw atah , or izegzazven, iwraghen, imellalen, and iquranen. A nd also w hy, w hen they do not send the anthropologist (w hom they always see as a scholar) to other scholars w ith his scholars questions, they endeavour to produce the form s o f learning w hich seem to them w orthiest of being offered in reply to scholarly interrogation, su b stitu tin g for the guides w hich really organize their practice as m uch as they can m obilize of the series of the constructed calendar, the m onths of the M oslem calendar or the " h o u ses.20 In short, by tacitly excluding all reference to the practical interest which a socially characterized agent - a man or a w om an, an adult or a shepherd, a farmer or a sm ith, etc. - may have in dividing up the year in such-and-such a w ay, and in using such-and-such a tem poral gu id e, one unw ittingly constructs an object which exists only by virtue of this unconscious construction of both it and its operations.

T h e can cellin g ou t o f th e practical fu n ctio n s o f tem poral gu id e-m a rk s that resu lts from th e co n tex t of in terrogation and from scien tific reco rd in g is the h id d en co n d ition o f cu m u la tin g and seriatin g the aggregate o f th e o p p o si tio n s w h ich can be p rod u ced in relation to d ifferen t u n iv erses of discou rse, that is, w ith d ifferen t fu n ctio n s. B y cu m u latin g in form ation wT ich is n ot and h can n ot alw ays b e m astered b y any sin g le in form an t - at any rate, never on th e in stan t - th e analyst w in s th e privileg e o f totalization (th ank s to th e pow er to perpetuate that w ritin g and all the various tec h n iq u es for reco rd in g give h im , and also to th e abundant tim e h e has for an a ly sis). H e th u s se cu re s the m ean s o f a p p reh en d in g th e lo g ic of th e system wrh ich a partial or d iscrete view w ould m iss; b ut b y the sam e tok en , there is every lik elih ood th a t he w ill overlook th e ch an ge in statu s to w hich he is su b jectin g practice and its p rod u cts, and co n seq u en tly that h e w ill in sist on tryin g to an sw er q u estio n s w h ich are n ot and can n ot b e q u estio n s for practice, instead o f ask in g h im self w h eth er th e essen tial ch aracteristic o f practice is n ot p recisely th e fact that it ex clu d es su ch q u e stio n s. T h e totalization wr ich th e diagram effects by ju xta p o sin g in th e sim u lta n eity h of a sin gle sp ace th e com p lete series of th e tem poral o p p o sitio n s applied su ccessiv ely b y d ifferen t agen ts at d ifferen t tim es, w h ich can n ev er all be m ob ilized togeth er in p ractice (b ecau se th e n ece ssitie s o f e x iste n c e never require th is sort of sy n o p tic ap p reh en sion , ten d in g rather to d isco u ra g e it by their u rgen cy) g iv es full rein to the theoretical n eu tralization w h ich th e inquiry

T he calen dar an d the syn optic illusion

r e la tio n s h ip

itself p rod u ces. T h e esta b lish m en t of a sin g le series th u s creates

ex nihilo a w h o le host of relation s (o f sim u lta n eity , su cc essio n , or sy m m etry , {or example) b etw een term s and gu ide-m ark s of d ifferen t levels, w h ich , b ein g o d u ced and u sed in d ifferen t situ a tio n s, are never b rou ght face to face in
practice a n d are th u s com p atib le practically even w h en logically con trad ictory. T h e s y n o p tic diagram takes all th e tem poral op p o sitio n s w h ich can be collected and a sse m b le d and d istrib u tes th em in accordance w ith th e law s o f su ccessio n (i.e. ( i ) " y fo llo w s x ex c lu d e s " x follo w s y ; ( 2) if y fo llo w s x and z fo llo w s y , th en z fo llo w s x \ ( 3) eith er y fo llo w s x or x fo llo w s >). T h is m akes it p ossib le to ap preh en d at a glan ce, uno intuitu et tota sim ul, as D esca rtes said, m onothetically, as H u sserl put it ,21 m ean in gs w h ich are p rod u ced and u sed p o ly th e tic a lly , that is to say, not o n ly on e after an oth er, b u t on e by o n e, step

by step .22
D epending on the precision w ith w hich the event considered has to be localized, on the nature of the event, and on the social status of the agent concerned, different svstems o f oppositions are seen to em erge: for exam ple, the period known as ly a li, far from being defined - as in a perfectly ordinate series - in relation to the period which preceded it and the period w hich follow s it, and only in relation to them , can be opposed to smaim as well as to el husum or thimgharine\ as we have seen , it can also be opposed, as " lya li o f D ece m b e r, to " lyali of January, or, by a different logic, be opposed as the "great n ig h ts to the "lesser nights of fu ra r and the "lesser nights of maghres (the sam e com binative logic w hich leads to the oppositions betw een " essba't of w inter and "essba't of sp rin g ; betw een " es-ba't of late sp rin g , w ith the M green days and the "yellow d a y s, and " essba't of su m m er, w ith the "w hite d a y s and the "dry d ays ; and betw een smaim of sum m er and smaim of autum n). T h e same informant may at one m om ent, thinking in term s of ritual practices, oppose lakhrif taken as a w hole ("autum n is w ithout d iv isio n s) to lahlal, the licit period for ploughing; and the very next m om en t, thinking in term s of the cycle of the fig harvest, oppose lahlal to achraw , w hich is the end of lakhrif and one o f the activities of thaqachachth, through w hich it is im plicitly opposed to thissemtith (the first figs), or achakh (the ripeness of the figs). When one knows that m any other oppositions could be produced, one sees the artificiality and indeed unreality of a calendar w hich assim ilates and aligns u nits of different levels and of very unequal im portance. G iven that all the d ivisions and sub-divisions w hich the observer may record and cum ulate are produced and used ln different situations and on different occasions, the question of h ow each of them relates to the unit at a higher level, or, a fortiori, to the divisions or sub-divisions of the " p eriods to w hich they are op p osed , never arises in practice. If another seem ingly ethnocentric analogy' be perm itted, one m ight suggest that the relation betw een the constructed series obeying the laws of succession, and the tem poral oppositions put mto practice successively so that they cannot be telescoped into the sam e spot, is hom ologous with the relation betw een the continuous, hom ogeneous, political space of graduated scales of op in ion , and practical political positions, w hich are always taken UP in response to a particular situation and particular interlocutors or opponents and make d istinctions and divisions of greater or lesser refinem ent depending on the Political distance betw een the interlocutors (le ft:r ig h t::left o f the left:righ t o f the left:: left of the left of the le f t: right of the left o f the le ft: :e tc.) so that the sam e agent

io 8

G en erative schemes an d practica l logic

may find him self successively on his own right and on his ow n left in the " absolute space of geom etry, contradicting the third law o f succession. T h e same analysis applies to the term inologies serving to designate social units: ignorance of the uncertainties and am biguities w hich these products of a practical lo g ic ow e to their functions and to the conditions in w hich they are used leads to the production of artefacts as im peccable as they are unreal. Perhaps no anthropologist has been more sensitive than Edm und Leach to "the essential difference betw een the ritual description of structural relations and the anthropologists scientific description , or, in particular, to the opposition betw een the "com pletely unam biguous terminology of *he anthropologist, with his arbitrarily devised concepts, and the concepts which agents use in ritual actions to express structural relations. Indeed, nothing is more suspect than the ostentatious rigour o f the diagram s of the social organization o f Berber societies offered by anthropologists. Jeanne Favret provides an exam ple in a recent article in w hich she follow s Hanoteau on to a " field on which her general ideas are most redolent of generals ideas, as Virginia W oolf would have put it. If her taste for provocative paradox had not led her to rehabilitate the worthy brigadier-generals "wild [sauvage] ethnography against professional ethnology (which happens to be somewhat under-professionalized in this area), M s Favret w ould not have gone to the "innocent and m eticulous ethnography of Hanoteau and L etourneux for the basis of the pure, perfect taxonom y of political organization which she opposes to the anthropological tradition, accusing the latter both of being "m erely more sophisticated and more ignorant of its lim its than the generals military anthropology and of failing to observe the distinctions which his work makes it possible to draw.23 A more penetrating reading of the texts in question, produced in the main by administrators and soldiers (or law professors), w ould show that the vagueness of the social term inolo gies they offer could only result from a certain familiarity with K abyle reality com bined w ith ignorance of the theoretical traditions and of the corresponding pre tensions to theoretical system aticitv. W ithout entering into detailed discussion of M s Favrets schem atic presentation o f the term inology collected by Hanoteau, one can only restate certain basic points of the description of the structure of the village of A lt H ichem 24 which perhaps erred only by excessive "rationalization of native categories. T hough the vocabulary of social divisions varies from place to place, the fact remains that the hierarchy o f the basic social units, those designated by the words thakharubth and adhrum, is alm ost always the opposite of what M s Favret, following Hanoteau, says it is. A few cases can be found in w hich, as Hanoteau maintains, thakharubth includes adhrum, probably because term inologies collected at particular times and places designate the results of different histories, marked by the splitting up, the (no doubt frequent) disappearance, and the annexation of lineages. It also often happens that the words are used indifferently to refer to social divisions at the same level; this is the case in the Sidi Alch region, in w hich the terms used, starting with the m ost restricted and hence most real unit, are (a) el hara, the undivided family (called akham, the house, akham n A it A li, at Ait H ichem ), (b) akham, the extended fam ily, covering all the people bearing the name of the same ancestor (as far as the third or fourth generation) - A li ou X , som etim es also designated by a terra probably suggested by the topography, since the path bends as one passes from one akham to another: thaghamurth, the elbow , (c) adhrum, akharub (or thakharubth), or aharumy bringing together the people w hose com m on origin goes back beyond the fourth generation, (d) the suff, or sim ply "those a b ove or "those b elow , (e) the village, a purely local unit, in this case including the tw o leagues. T h e synonym s, to which must be added tha'rifth (from 'arf, to know one another), a group of acquaintances, equivalent to akham or adhrum (elsew here, thakharubth) may not have been used

Econom y o f logic
since they emphasize either integration and internal cohesion ( akham or adhrum) or the contrast with other groups ( taghamurth, aharum). Su/f, used to suggest a n " a r b i t r a r y unit, a conventional alliance as opposed to the other term s which denote n d i v i d u a l s bearing a com m on name (A it. . . ) , is often distinguished from adhrum, with which it coincides at A il H ichem . Everything takes place as if one passed by in s e n s i b l e gradations from the patriarchal fam ily to the clan {adhrum or thakharubth), th e f u n d a m e n t a l social unit, with the intermediate units corresponding to m ore-or-less a r b i t r a r y points of segm entation (w hich would explain the inform ants uncertainty with v o c a b u l a r y they often indequatelv m aster). T h ese points becom e especially apparent w h e n conflict arises ( b y virtue of the fact that the units are separated only by d i f f e r e n c e s of degree, as can be seen, for exam ple, in the different shades of obligation in t h e c a s e of m ourning, with the closest relatives offering the meal, and the others m a k in g their own small contribution, by helping w ith the cooking, bringing jars of w a t e r o r som e vegetables, and the m ost distant relatives - or friends from another clan - g i v i n g a m e a l for the fam ily of the deceased after the m ourning is over); and they a r e s u b j e c t to constant change: the virtual lim its may becom e real ones w hen the group e x t e n d s itself (thus at A it H ichem , the Ait M endil, who were originally united, c o n s t i t u t e tw o thakharubth) and the real lim its may disappear (the Ait Isaad group t o g e t h e r several reduced thakharubth in a single thakharubth). In short, the system atic p i c t u r e of interlocking units, presented by " w ild or civilized anthropologists from H a n o t e a u through Durkheim to Jeanne Favret, ignores the unceasing dynam ism of u n i t s which are constantly form ing and reform ing, and the fuzziness which is an i n t e g r a l part of native notions inasmuch as it is at once the precondition and the p r o d u c t of their functioning. What is true of genealogical and political taxonom ies is equally true of the tem poral taxonom ies of the agrarian calendar: the level at which t h e oppositions actually m obilized are situated depends fundam entally on the situation -th a t is to say, on the relationship betw een the groups or individuals who are to be demarcated by m eans of taxonom ies.
^ g p h a z a rd ly ,

Econom y o f logic Sym bolic sy stem s ow e their practical coherence, that is, their regularities, and also their irregularities and even in coh eren ces (b oth eq u ally necessary b ecause inscribed in the logic of their gen esis and fu n ctio n in g ) to the fact that they are the p rod uct o f practices w hich can n ot perform their practical fu n ctio n s except insofar as th ey brin g into play, in th eir practical state, p rin cip les w hich are not on ly coh eren t - i.e . capable of en gen d erin g in trin sically coh eren t practices com p atib le w ith the ob jective co n d itio n s - b u t also practical, in the sense o f con v en ien t, i.e . im m ediately m astered and m anageable because obeying a " p o o r and econom ical logic. O ne th u s has to acknow ledge that practice has a logic w h ich is not that of logic, if on e is to avoid asking of it m ore lo g ic than it can g iv e, thereby con d em n in g o n ese lf either to w rin g in coh eren ces out of it or to thrust upon *t a forced c o h er en ce .25 A nalysis of the various b u t clo sely interrelated asp ects f the theorization effect (forced sy n ch ron ization of the su cc essiv e, fictitious totalization , n eutralization o f fu n ction s, su b stitu tio n o f th e sy stem of products

1 10

G en erative schemes and practical logic

for the system of p rin cip les o f p rod u ction , e tc .) brings o u t, in negative form ( certain properties of th e logic o f practice w h ich by definition escape theoretical ap p reh en sion , sin ce they are con stitu tive of that ap preh en sion. Practical logic - practical in both sen ses o f the w ord - is ab le to organize the totality of an agent's th ou gh ts, p ercep tions, and action s by m eans of a few generative p rin cip les, th em selves redu cible in the last analysis to a fundam ental dicho to m y , on ly because its w hole econ om y, w h ich is based on th e principle of the econ om y of logic, p resu p p oses a loss of rigour for th e sake o f greater sim p licity and generality and because it finds in " p oly th esis the conditions required for the correct use of p olysem y. T h an k s to " p o ly th e sis, the " con fu sion of sp h e r e s, as the logician s call it, resu lting from the highly econ om ical, b ut necessarily approxim ate, application of the sam e sch em es to different logical u niverses, can pass u nn o ticed because it entails no practical co n seq u en ces. N o one takes the trouble to system atically record and com pare th e su ccessiv e products o f the application of the generative sch em es: th ese discrete, self-su fficien t u n its owe their im m ed iate transparency not on ly to th e sch em es w hich are realized in them , b u t also to the situation ap p reh en d ed through th ese schem es and to the a gen ts practical relation to that situ ation . T h e p rin cip le of the ec o n o m y of lo g ic, w hereby no m ore logic is m ob ilized than is required by the n eed s of p ractice, m eans that th e universe of d iscou rse in relation to w hich this or that class (an d therefore the com p lem en tary class) is co n stitu ted , can rem ain im p licit, because it is im plicitly defined in each case in and b y the practical relation to th e situ ation . G iven that it is unlikely that tw o contradictory ap p lication s of the sam e sch em es w ill be b rou ght face to face in w hat w e m ust call a universe o f practice (rather than a universe of d isco u rse), the sam e thing m ay, in different u niverses of practice, h ave d ifferent th in gs as its com p lem en t and m ay, therefore, receive differen t, even o p p o sed , properties, according to the u n iv e rse .26 T h e h ou se, for exam p le, is glob ally defined as fem ale, dam p, e tc ., w h en con sid ered from o u tsid e , from th e m ale p oin t of v iew , i.e . in o p p o sitio n to the external w orld , b ut it can be d ivid ed in to a m ale-fem ale part and a fem ale-fem ale part w hen it ceases to be seen by reference to a universe o f practice co exten sive w ith the u niverse, an d is treated instead as a universe (of practice and d iscou rse) in its ow n righ t, w hich for the w o m en it indeed is, especially in w in te r .27 T h e fact that sym b olic ob jects and practices can enter w ith ou t contradiction in to su ccessiv e relation ship s set up from different p oin ts of v iew m eans that they are subject to overdeterm ination through indetermination: the application to the sam e ob jects or practices of different sch em es (such as o p en in g /clo sin g , g o in g in /co m in g ou t, g o in g u p /g o in g d o w n , e tc .) w h ich , at the d egree of p recision (i.e . o f im precision ) w ith w hich th e y are d efined, are all practically

Econom y o f logic
e q u iv a le n t, is r e la tio n s h ip s in


the sou rce of the polysem y characterizing th e fundam ental the sym b olic system , w hich are alw ays d eterm in ed in several

respects at o n ce. T h u s a relation sh ip su ch as that b etw een th e h ou se and the ihajm ath (for w h ich one cou ld su b stitu te th e m arket, or the field s) con d en ses

a good n um ber of th e system 's fundam ental op p o sitio n s - th e full and the
empty, the fem ale and th e m ale, n ight and day, etc. - w hich are also fo u n d , with only sligh t d ifferen ces, in relation ship s as accessary in appearance as those between the cook in g-p ot and the w heatcake griddle or the stable and the kanun. T he m ost sp ecific properties o f a ritual corpu s, th ose w h ich define it as a system coh eren t in practice, cannot be perceived or ad eq uately understood unless the corpu s is seen as th e product (opus operatum ) of a practical m astery (modus operandi) ow in g its practical efficacy to the fact that it m akes connections based on w hat Jean N ico d calls overall resemblance. 28 T h is m ode of apprehension never ex p licitly or system atically lim its itself to any on e aspect of the term s it links, b ut takes each on e, each tim e, as a w h o le, exp lo itin g to the full the fact that tw o " d a ta are never entirely alike in a ll respects but are always alike in som e resp ect, at least in directly (i.e . through the m ediation of som e com m on term ). T h is exp lain s, first, wr am ong the d ifferen t aspects hy of the at on ce u n d eterm in ed and overdeterm in ed sy m b o ls it m anipulates, ritual practice never clearly op p oses asp ects sym b olizin g so m eth in g to aspects sym bolizing n o th in g and h en ce disregarded (such as, in the case o f the letters of the alphabet, the colou r or size of the strokes, or, in a page of w riting, the vertical wr rd -ord er). For exam p le, although on e of the d ifferen t aspects o through w h ich a " d a tu m like gall can be con n ected w ith other (equally equivocal) data - viz. b ittern ess (it is eq u ivalen t to oleander, wormwr ood, or tar, and op posed to h o n e y ), green ness (it is associated w ith lizards and the colour green ), and h o stility (inherent in the p revious tw o q ualities) necessarily com es to th e forefront, the other aspects do not th ereb y cease to be perceived sim u ltan eou sly; the sym b olic chord m ay be so u n d ed eith er in its fundam ental form , w h e n th e fun dam en tal quality is em p h a sized , or in its inverted form . W ithou t w ish in g to p ush the m usical m etaph or too far, one m ight n on eth eless su g g est that a n um ber of ritual seq u en ces can b e seen as Modulations: occurring w ith particular frequ en cy because the sp ecific principle f ritual action , th e desire to stack all the od ds on one's ow n s id e , is con d u cive to the logic o f developm ent, w ith variations against a background o f redundancy, these m od u lation s play on the harm onic p rop erties o f ritual sym bols, w h eth er d u p licatin g on e of th e th em es w ith a strict eq u ivalen t in all respects (gall evok in g wr orm w ood, w h ich , like gall, u n ites b itterness and greenness) or m od u latin g in to rem oter tonalities by playing on th e associations f the secondary h arm onics ( l i z a r d t o a d ).29


G en erative schemes and practica l logic

Ritual practice effects a fluid, "f u z z y abstraction, b rin gin g th e sam e sym bol in to different relations through different aspects or b rin gin g d ifferen t aspects o f the sam e referent in to th e sam e relation o f o p p o sitio n ; in other w ords, it ex clu d es th e S ocratic q u estion o f the respect in which th e referent is appreh en ded (shap e, colour, fu n ctio n , e t c .) , thereby ob v ia tin g the need to define in each case th e prin cip le g overn in g the ch oice o f the aspect se lec te d , and, a fo rtiori, the n eed to stick to that p rin cip le at all tim es. B ut in relating objects and selectin g asp ects, this practical taxon om y ap plies, su ccessiv ely or sim u ltan eou sly, prin cip les w h ich are all in directly redu cible to on e another, and this en ab les it to classify the sam e " d a ta from several different stand p o in ts w ith ou t classifyin g them in different w ays (w h ereas a m ore rigorous sy stem w o u ld m ake as m any classification s as it fou n d p rop erties). The u n iv erse th u s u n d ergoes a d ivision w h ich can be said to be logical, though it seem s to break all the rules of logical d ivision (for ex a m p le, by making d ivision s w hich are n eith er exclu sive nor ex h a u stiv e), for all its dichotom ies are in d efin itely redu n dan t, b ein g in th e last analysis the product of a single principium division is. B ecause the p rin cip le o p p o sin g the term s w h ich have b een related (e .g . the su n and th e m oon ) is n ot d efined and u sually com es d o w n to a sim p le contrariety (w hereas con trad iction im p lies a prelim inary analysis) analogy (w h ic h , w h en it d oes not fu n ction purely in its practical state, is alw ays exp ressed ellip tically - "w om an is the m o o n ) estab lish es a h o m ology b etw een o p p o sitio n s (m a n :w o m a n ::su n :m o o n ) set up in accor dance w4th tw o in d eterm in ate, overd eterm in ed p rin cip les ( h o t : c o ld : : m ale: fe m a le ::d a y :n ig h t::e tc .) w h ich differ from the p rin cip les gen eratin g other h o m ologies in to wT ich either o f the tw o term s in q u estio n m ig h t enter h (m a n :w o m a n ::e a st:w e st or s u n : m o o n : : d r y : w e t). In other w ords, fluid abstraction is also false abstraction. B ecau se the properties d istin g u ish in g one " d a tu m from another rem ain attached to n on -p ertin en t p rop erties, the assim ilation is com p reh en sive and com p lete even w hen fun dam en tally m oti vated in on ly on e resp ect. T h e aspect o f each o f the term s w h ich is (im p licitly) selected from a sin gle stan d p oin t in any particular con n ectio n m ade betw een them rem ains attached to th e other asp ects through w h ich it can su b seq u en tly be o p p osed to oth er asp ects of an oth er referent in other co n n ectio n s. T h e same term cou ld th u s en ter in to an infinite n um ber o f co n n ectio n s if the num ber of w ays of relating to wr hat is not itself w ere not lim ited to a few fundamental o p p o sitio n s. Ritual practice p roceed s n o differen tly from th e ch ild who drove A ndre G id e to despair b y in sistin g that th e o p p o site o f "blanc w as " b la n c h e and the fem in in e o f " g r a n d , " p e t it . In sh ort, the "analogical s e n s e in cu lcated in th e earliest years o f life is, as W allon says of th in k in g in cou p les, a sort o f " sen se o f th e con tra ry , w h ich g iv e s rise to the co u n tless ap p lication s of a few basic contrasts capable o f p rovid in g a m in im u m

Econom y o f logic


0f determ ination (a m an is not a w om an - > a toad is not a frog) and cannot ive anv inform ation about the relations it relates, b ecause it is p recisely their indeterm inacy and fu zzin ess that perm it it to op erate. T h e u ncertain ties and m isunderstandings in herent in th is logic of su g g estio n and a m b igu ity are thu s the price that has to be paid for the economy w h ich resu lts from redu cing the universe o f the relations b etw een o p p osites and o f the relation s b etw een these relations to a few basic relations from w hich all the o th ers can be generated. Sym patheia ton holon, as th e S to ics called it, the affinity b etw een all the objects of a universe in w h ich m ean in g is everyw h ere, and everyw here superabundant, is ach ieved at the cost of the fu zzin ess and vagu en ess of each of the elem en ts and each of the relation ship s b etw een th em : lo g ic can be everyw here on ly b ecause it is really n ow h ere. If ritual p ractices and represen tations are ob jectively en d ow ed w ith partial, approxim ate sy stem a ticity , this is because they are th e p rod uct o f a sm all n um ber of g en erative sch em es that are pra ctically interchangeable, i.e . capable o f p rod u cin g eq u ivalen t resu lts from the p oint of view o f the " lo g ic a l d em an d s of practice. If th ey never have more than partial and ap proxim ate sy stem aticity , th is is b ecause the schem es o f wr ich they are the product can be q uasi-u n iversally applied on ly h because th ey fu n ction in their practical state, i.e . on the h ith er side of exp licit statem ent and co n seq u en tly ou tsid e o f all logical con trol, and by reference to practical en d s w h ich are su ch as to im p ose on them a necessity w h ich is not that of logic.
It is by "practical sense that an agent know s, for exam ple, that a given act or object requires a particular place inside the house; that a given task or rite corresponds to a particular period of the year or is excluded from another. H e only needs to possess, in their practical state, a set of schem es functioning in their im plicit state and in the absence of any precise delim itation of the universe of discourse, to be able to produce or understand a sym bolic series such as the follow ing: w hen a cat enters the house with a feather or a wisp of w hite wool in its fur, if it heads for the hearth, this presages the arrival of guests, w ho w ill be given a meal with m eat; if it goes towards the stable, this m eans that a cow w ill be bought if the season is spring, an ox if it autumn. T h e question-begging and the approxim ations in this series are obvious: the cat, an intruder w hich enters by chance and is driven out again, is only there as a bearer of sym bols, which realizes practically the m ovem ent of entering; the feather is im plicitly treated as the equivalent of the w ool, no doubt because both substances are called upon to function as the mere supports of a beneficent quality, "the w h ite ; the opposition betw een the hearth and the stable, the centre of the rite, is engendered by the schem e w hich structures the internal space of the house, opposing the top and the bottom , the dry and the w et, the male and the fem ale, the noble part where guests are received and where meat is roasted (the dish served to guests par excellen ce), and the lower part, the place reserved for the anim als. T h is schem e only has to be com bined with the schem e generating the opposition betw een two seasons - autum n, the tim e of the collective sacrifice of an ox follow ed by the ploughing, and spring, the season of milk - to give the ox and the co w .30


G en erative schemes and p ra ctica l logic

A nother exam ple occurs in a w ell-known tale, the story of Heb-H eb-er-Rem m an. A girl who has seven brothers falls foul of the jealousy of her sisters-in-law. T h ey make her eat seven snakes eggs, concealed in dum plings: her belly sw ells and people think she is pregnant; she is driven from the house. A w ise man discovers the cause of h e r ailm ent: to cure her, a sheep must be slaughtered and its meat roasted, with a lot of salt. T h e girl m ust eat it and then be suspended by her feet with her m outh open over a pan o f water. When this is done, the snakes com e out and they are killed. T h e girl marries; she has a child whom she calls H eb-H eb-er-R em m an "pomegranate se e d s. She goes back to her brothers, who recognize her when she tells them h e r story, show ing them the seven snakes which she has dried and salted. It can im m ediately be seen that to produce this narrative, or to decode (at least in an approxim ate form) its significance, it is sufficient to possess the set of schem es which are at wr ork in the production of any fertility rite. T o fecundate is to penetrate, to introduce som ething which sw ells and/or causes sw elling: the ingestion of food, and of food w hich sw ells ( ufthyen) is hom ologous with sexual intercourse and ploughing.31 But here there is a false fecundation: the snakes, a sym bol of the male life-principle, of sem en, o f the ancestor w ho must die in order to be reborn, and thus of the dry, are ingested in the form of eggs, i.e. in their fem ale state, and return to maleness inopportunely, in the girls stom ach (in a fertility rite reported by Westermarck, it is the heart - a male part of the snake - that is eaten ). T h e sw elling which results from this inverted procreation is sterile and pernicious. T h e cure is logically self-evident. T he dry m ust be made to move in the opposite direction, from the high to the low - the girl sim ply has to be turned upside dow n - and from the inside to the outside - which cannot be done by a sim ple mechanical operation: the dry must be further dried, parched, by adding to it what is pre-em inently dry, salt, and reinforcing its propensity tow ards the moist, which in normal fecundation - procreation or sowing - carries it towards the inside, towards the damp w om b of woman or of the earth opened by the ploughshare. At the end of the story, the w om ans fecundity is proved by the birth of H eb-H eb-er-R em m an 'pom egranate se e d s (the sym bol par excellence of female fecundity, identified with the w om b ), i.e. the many sons born (or to be born) from the fertile wom b of a woman herself sprung from a wom b prolific of m en (her seven brothers). And the seven snakes end up dried and salted, i.e . in the state to w hich they are structurally assigned as sym bols o f male seed, capable of grow ing and m ultiplying through the cycle of im m ersion in the wet follow ed by em ergence towards the dry.

T he body as geom eter: cosmogonic practice U n d erstan d in g ritual practice is not a q u estion of d eco d in g the internal logic o f a sym b o lism but of restoring its practical n ecessity b y relating it to the real co n d ition s of its g en esis, that is, to the co n d itio n s in w hich its fu n ctio n s, and the m ean s it u ses to attain th em , are d efin ed . It m eans, for exam ple, reco n stitu tin g - b y an operation of logical recon stru ction w h ich has n oth ing to d o w ith an act of em p ath ic projection - th e significance and fu n ctio n s that agents in a d eterm in ate social form ation can (and m ust) con fer on a d eter m inate practice or exp erien ce, given the practical tax o n o m ies w hich organize their p ercep tion . W hen con fron ted w ith m yth and ritual, social theory has alwr ays h esitated b etw een the lofty d istan ce w h ich the m ost com p rehensive scien ce seek s to keep b etw een itself and th e elem en tary form s o f reason and

T h e bo d y as geom eter: cosmogonic practice

1 15

the m ystical participation of the great initiates of the g n o stic trad ition. T h e objectivist reduction w h ich b rings to ligh t the so-called ob jective fu n ction s 0f m yth s and rites (for D u rk h eim , fu n ction s of m oral in tegration ; for L eviStrauss, fu n ction s o f logical integration) m akes it im p o ssib le to understand bow these fu n ction s are fu lfilled , b ecau se it brackets th e agents' ow n repre sentation o f th e w orld and o f their practice. " P a rticip a n t anth rop ology, on the other hand - w h en it is not m erely inspired b y nostalgia for the agrarian paradises, th e prin cip le of all con servative id eo lo g ies - regards the human invariants and the u niversality o f th e m ost basic exp eriences as sufficient justification for seek in g eternal answ ers to the eternal q u estio n s of the cosm ogon ies and co sm o lo g ies in the practical answ ers w h ich the peasants of K abylia or elsew h ere have given to th e practical, h istorically situated problem s w h ich w ere forced on th em in a determ in ate state o f th eir in stru m ents o f m aterial and sy m b o lic appropriation of th e w o rld . Even w hen they are asym ptotic w ith scien tific tru th , the inspired in terp retation s fostered by such a d isp osition are never m ore than the in version o f th e false objectification performed b y colonial an th rop ology. By cu ttin g practices off from their real conditions o f ex iste n c e, in order to credit them w ith alien in ten tio n s, by a false g en erosity con d u civ e to stylistic effects, the exaltation o f lost wr om isd dispossesses th em , as su rely as its o p p osite, o f everyth in g that co n stitu tes their reason and their raison d'etre, and locks th em in the etern al essen ce of a " m en ta lity. T h e K ab yle w om an settin g up her loom is not perform ing an act o f cosm ogon y; sh e is sim p ly settin g up her loom to w eave clo th in tend ed to serve a techn ical fu n ctio n . It so happ en s that, given the sy m b o lic eq u ip m en t available to her for th in k in g her ow n activity - and in particular her language, which con stantly refers her back to the logic of p lou g h in g - sh e can on ly think what sh e is d oin g in th e en ch an ted, that is to say, m y stified , form w hich spiritualism , thirsty for eternal m ysteries, finds so en ch a n tin g . R ites take place b ecau se and o n ly b ecau se they find th eir raison d'etre in the co n d ition s of ex isten ce and the d isp o sitio n s o f a gen ts w h o cannot afford the luxury of logical sp ecu la tio n , m ystical effu sion s, or m etaph ysical anxiety. It is not sufficient to rid icu le the m ore naive form s of fu n ctio n a lism in order to have d one w ith th e q u estion o f the practical fu n ctio n s o f p ractice. It is clear that a universal d efinition of the fu n ction s of m arriage as an operation intended to en su re th e b iological reproduction of the g ro u p , in accordance with form s approved b y the grou p , in n o w ay exp lain s K ab yle marriage ritual. But, contrary to appearances, scarcely m ore u n d erstan d in g is d erived from a structural analysis w h ich ign ores the sp ecific fu n ctio n s of ritual practices and fails to inquire in to the eco n o m ic and social co n d itio n s o f the p roduction f the d isp o sitio n s gen eratin g both these practices and also th e co llective definition of th e practical fu n ction s in w h ose service th e y fu n ctio n . T h e


G en erative schemes an d practical logic

K abyle peasan t d oes not react to " ob jective c o n d itio n s but to th e practical in terp retation w hich he prod uces of th o se con d itio n s, and the principle of wfh ich is the socially con stitu ted sc h e m e s of his h abitus. It is th is inter pretation w h ich has to be con stru cted in each case, if w e w ant to give an account of ritual p ractices w h ich w ill d o justice b oth to their reason and to their raison d'etre, that is, to their inseparably logical and practical n ecessity . T h u s , tech n ical or ritual practices are d eterm in ed b y the m aterial conditions of ex isten ce (that is, in this particular case, by a certain relation ship between the clim atic and ecological con d ition s and th e available tech n iq u es) as treated in p ractice b y agents endowr w ith sc h e m e s of p ercep tion of a determ inate ed sort, wr ich are th em selv es d eterm in ed , n egatively at least, b y th e material h co n d itio n s of existen ce (th e relative au to n o m y o f ritual b ein g a ttested by the invariant features fou n d th rou gh ou t the M agh reb, d esp ite the variations in th e clim a tic and econ om ic co n d itio n s). It is in a particular relationship b etw een a m ode of p rod uction and a m o d e of p ercep tion that th e specific contradiction of agrarian a ctivity is defined as the hazardous or even sacrilegious con fron tation of antagonistic p rin cip les, togeth er w ith th e ritual apparatus w h ose fu n ctio n it is to resolve that con trad iction . It is through th e m ediation o f th e fu n ctio n thereby assigned to tech n ical or ritual p ractice that the relation sh ip observed b etw een the eco n o m ic system and the m ythico-ritual sy stem is estab lish ed p ractically .32 R ites, m ore than any other typ e of practice, serve to u n d erlin e the mistake of en clo sin g in con cep ts a logic m ade to d isp en se w ith co n cep ts; of treating m o v em en ts o f the body and practical m an ip u lation s as purely logical opera tio n s; o f speaking of an alogies and h om o lo g ies (as on e so m etim es has to, in order to understand and to con vey that u nd erstan ding) w h en all that is in v o lved is th e practical transference of incorporated, quasi-postural sc h e m e s .33 R ite is in d eed in som e cases n o m ore than a practical mimesis of the natural p rocess w h ich n eed s to b e facilitated : u nlike m etaphor and ex p licit analogy, mimetic representation (apom im em a) estab lish es a relationship b etw een the sw ellin g of grain in th e cook in g-p ot, the sw ellin g o f a pregnant w om an s belly, and th e germ ination of w h eat in the grou n d, w h ich entails no ex p licit statem en t of th e properties of th e term s related or th e principles of th eir relationship; the m ost characteristic operations of its " lo g ic in v ertin g, transferring, u n itin g, separatin g, etc. - take th e form of m o v e m e n t s of the b o d y , turnin g to th e right or le ft, p u ttin g th in g s u p sid e d o w n , going in, co m in g ou t, ty in g , cu ttin g, etc. T o sp eak , as w e have h ere, of overall resem b lance and u ncertain abstraction, is still to u se th e intellectualist language o f represen tation - the language w h i c h an an alysts relation to a corpus spread ou t before him in th e form of

The bo d y as geom eter: cosmogonic practice


docum ents q u ite n aturally forces on him - to express a lo g ic w h ich is acted

oU directly in th e form of b odily gym n astics w ith ou t p a ssin g through the t

express ap preh en sion of the " a s p e c ts selected or rejected , of the sim ilar or dissimilar " p r o f i l e s T h e lo gicism inherent in th e ob jectivist stand point leads those w h o adopt it to forget that scien tific con stru ction cannot grasp the principles o f practical lo g ic w ith ou t ch an gin g th e nature o f th ose p r in c ip le s: when m ade exp licit for objective stu d y, a practical su ccessio n b eco m es a

represented su c c e ssio n ; an action oriented in relation to a sp ace objectively constituted as a stru cture o f d em and s (th in gs " to be d o n e and " n ot to be
d on e) b ecom es a reversib le operation carried ou t in co n tin u o u s, h o m o geneous space. F or exam p le, as lon g as m vthico-ritual sp a ce is seen as an opus operatum , that is, as a tim eless order of th in gs co e x istin g , it is never more than a theoretical sp ace, in w hich th e on ly landm arks are provided by the term s of relations o f op p osition (u p /d o w n , e a st/w e st), and w here on ly theoretical op eration s can b e effected, i.e . logical d isp la cem en ts and transfor mations w hich differ toto coelo from m ovem en ts and action s actually per formed, su ch as falling or rising. H avin g estab lish ed that th e internal space of the K abyle h ou se receives a sym m etrically op p osite sign ification w hen re-placed in th e total sp a ce ou tsid e, w e are justified in sa y in g , as w e did earlier, that each o f th e se tw o sp aces, inside and ou tsid e, can be derived from the other b y m eans of a sem i-rotation , on ly on con d itio n that th e m athem atical

language exp ressin g su ch operations is reunited w ith its b asis in practice, so

that term s like d isp lacem en t and rotation are given their practical sen ses as movements o f the b ody, su ch as g oin g forw ards or backwards, or turning round.

Just as, in th e tim e of L ev y -B ru h l, there w ould have b een less am azem ent
at the od d ities of the " p rim itive m en ta lity if it had b een p ossib le to con ceive that the logic of m agic an d " p articip ation m igh t have so m e con n ection w ith the experience o f em o tio n , so now adays th ere w o u ld b e le ss aston ish m en t at the '"logical feats of th e A ustralian ab origin es if the "savage m in d had not been u nconsciously cred ited , b y a sort of inverted eth n o cen trism , w ith the relation to the w orld that in tellectu alism attributes to ev ery " c o n scio u sn e ss and if an th rop ologists had not rem ained silen t about th e transform ation

leading from operations m astered in their practical state to th e form al opera

tions isom orphic w ith th em , failin g by th e sam e token to in qu ire in to th e social conditions of p rod uction o f that transform ation. T h e scien ce o f m yth is at liberty to d escrib e the syn tax o f m yth in the language of group th eory, so lon g as it is not forgotten that th is language destroys the truth it m akes available to ap preh en sion, b ecau se it has b een w on 3nd built up against th e exp erience it enables on e to n a m e : it is scarcely necessary to in sist that w e can no m ore id en tify th e scien tific stu d y of oxidation w ith th e exp erien ce o f fire than w e can offer th e con tin u ou s,


G en erative schemes and p ra ctica l logic

h o m ogen eou s sp ace of geom etry as the practical sp ace of practice, w ith it$ d y ssym m etries, its d isco n tin u ities, and its d irectio n s co n ceiv ed as substantial p rop erties, left and righ t, east and w est. W e m ay say that gym n astics or d a n cin g are geom etry so lo n g as w e d o n ot m ean to say that the gym nast and th e dancer are geom eters. Perhaps there w ou ld be less tem p tation to treat the agent im p licitly or exp licitly as a logical operator if (w ith o u t en terin g into the q u estion o f chron ological priority) on e w en t back from the m y th ic logos to th e ritual praxis w h ich en acts in th e form o f real action s, i.e . b o d y m ovem ents, the op eration s wr ich ob jective an alysis d iscovers in m y th ic d isco u rse, an opus h operatum con cealin g the co n stitu tin g m om en t of " m y th o p o eic practice under its reified sign ification s. L ike th e acts of jurisp ru dence, ritual practice owes its practical coherence (w h ich m ay be recon stitu ted in th e form o f an objecti fied diagram of op eration s) to the fact that it is th e p rod uct of a sin g le system of conceptual schemes im m anent in practice, organ izing not on ly th e perception o f ob jects (and in this particular case, the classification o f th e possible in stru m en ts, circum stances - place and tim e - and agents of ritual action) but also th e p rod u ction of p ractices (in this case, the g estu res and m ovem ents co n stitu tin g ritual a ctio n ). P erform ing a rite p resu p p o ses so m eth in g quite different from the co n scio u s m astery o f th e sort of catalogue o f oppositions that is draw n up b y acad em ic com m en tators striv in g for sy m b o lic mastery o f a dead or d y in g tradition (e .g . the C h in ese m and arin s tables o f eq u iva len ces) and also by an th rop ologists in the first stage of their w ork. Practical m astery of p rin cip les n either m ore com p lex nor m ore n u m erou s than the prin cip les o f solid statics ap plied w h en u sin g a w heelb arrow , a lever, or a nutcracker 34 m akes it p ossib le to p rod uce ritual action s that are com patible with the en d s in view ( e .g . ob tain in g rain or fertility for the livestock ) and intrinsically (at least relatively) coherent, that is, co m b in a tio n s o f a particular ty p e o f circu m stan ces (tim e s and p la ce s), in stru m en ts, and agen ts an d, above all, o f d isp lacem en ts and m o vem en ts ritually qualified as p rop itiou s or u n p rop itiou s. T h e se in clu d e g o in g (or th row in g so m eth in g ) upw ards or eastw ards, d ow n w ard s or westwr ards, togeth er w ith all the eq u ivalen t actions - p u ttin g so m eth in g on the roof o f th e h ou se or th ro w in g it tow ards the kanun\ b u ryin g it on the th resh old or th ro w in g it tow ards the stable; g o in g or th row in g to th e left or w ith the left hand, and g o in g or throw ing to the right or w ith the right hand; tu rn in g so m eth in g from left to right, or right to left; clo sin g (or tyin g) and o p en in g (or u n ty in g ), etc. In fact, an analysis of the universe of m yth ically or ritually defined ob jects, startin g w ith th e circum stan ces, in stru m en ts, and agen ts of ritual action , m akes it clear that the co u n tless o p p o sitio n s ob served in every area o f ex isten ce can all be brought d o w n to a sm all n um ber o f cou p les wr ich appear as fundam ental, sin ce, being h linked to one an oth er on ly by w eak analogies, th ey can n ot be redu ced to one

T h e body as geom eter: cosmogonic practice


another excep t in a forced and artificial w ay. A n d alm ost all prove to b e based
0n m ovem en ts or p ostu res o f the hum an b o d y , su ch as g o in g u p and com in g down (or g o in g forw ards and g o in g b ackw ards), g o in g to the left an d g o in g

to the right, g o in g in and co m in g ou t (or filling and em p ty in g ), sittin g and standing ( e tc .). T h e reason w h y th is practical g eo m etry , or geom etrical practice (" geom etry in the tangib le w o r ld , as Jean N ico d p uts it ),35 m akes so much u se o f in version is perhaps th at, like a m irror b rin gin g to lig h t the paradoxes o f bilateral sym m etry, the hum an b od y fu n ctio n s as a practical operator w h ich reaches to th e left to find the right hand it has to sh ake, puts its right arm in the sleev e of th e garm ent w h ich had b een ly in g on th e left, or reverses right and left, east and w est, b y th e m ere fact o f turnin g about to " fa ce som eon e or "turn its b a c k on h im , or again, turns " u p sid e d o w n things w h ich w ere " the right w ay u p - so m any m o vem en ts w h ich the m yth ic
w orld-view charges w ith social sign ification s and w h ich rite m akes in ten siv e use of. I catch m y self d efin in g th e threshold A s the geom etric locu s O f arrivals and departures In th e H o u se of the F a th er .36 T h e poet goes straight to th e heart of th e relation ship b etw een the space inside the h ouse and th e ou tsid e w o r ld : th e reversal of d irectio n s (sens) and m eanings (sens) in g o in g in and c o m in g ou t. A s a b elated , sm all-scale producer of private m yth o lo g ies, it is easier for him to sw eep aside dead m etaphors and go straight to the prin cip le of m yth op oeic practice, that is, to the m o v em en ts and gestu res w h ich , as in a sen ten ce o f A lb ert th e G reats p ick ed up b y R ene Char, can reveal th e d u ality u n d erlyin g the seem in g u n ity o f the ob ject: " In Germ any there w as a pair o f tw in s, on e o f wT o m op en ed doors w ith his right h arm, the other o f wr o m sh u t th em w ith h is left arm .37 h If w e sim p ly fo llo w the op p o sitio n d efined b y W ilh elm von H u m b o ld t, and move from ergon to energeia, i.e . from ob jects or acts to the p rin cip les of their production, or, m ore p recisely, from th e f a it accom pli and dead letter of the already effected analogy (a : b : : c : d ) f w hich ob jectivist h erm en eu tics con sid ers, to analogical practice as scheme transfer carried o u t b y the h abitus on the basis f acquired eq u ivalen ces facilitatin g th e in terch an geab ility of reaction s 38 and enabling th e agen t to m aster by a sort o f practical gen eralization all sim ilar Problem s lik ely to arise in newTsitu ation s, then at on ce w e break the sp ell of the panlogism en cou raged b y the exoteric version of structuralism , in w'hich the revelation of a n on -in ten tion al coh eren ce, often d escrib ed b y lin gu ists (Sapir and T ru b etzk o y , for exam p le) and even an th rop ologists as an " u n con scious fin a lity , serves as th e basis for a m etap h ysics o f nature dressed

12 0

G en erative schemes an d practical logic

up in the lan guage of natural scien ce. W e are th en in a p osition to question the p erfect coh eren ce w h ich ten d s to be conferred on historical system s by th o se w h o con vert th e m eth od ological p ostu late o f in tellig ib ility into an ontological th e sis. T h e fallacy, w h ich Ziff p oin ts o u t, of co n v ertin g regularity in to a rule, th u s p resu p p o sin g a plan, is o n ly apparently corrected in the h y p o th esis of th e unconscious, held to be th e on ly alternative to final causes as a m ean s o f exp la in in g cultural p hen om en a p resen tin g th e m selv es as totali ties en d ow ed w ith stru ctu re and m ea n in g .39 In fact this p lannerless plan is n o less m ysteriou s than th e plan o f a su p rem e planner, and it is understandable that th e structuralist v u lgate sh ou ld have b ecom e for so m e p eop le an intellec tually accep table form of T eilh ard ism - that is to say, on e acceptable in in tellectu al circles. T h e language of th e b od y, w h eth er articulated in g estu res or, a fortiori, in w hat p sych osom atic m ed icin e calls " th e language of the o rg a n s , is incom parably m ore a m b igu ou s and m ore overdeterm in ed than th e m ost overdeter m ined u ses of ord in ary lan guage. T h is is w h y ritual " r o o ts are always broader and vaguer th an lin g u istic roots, and w h y th e g y m n a stics o f ritual, like d ream s, alw ays se em s richer than th e verbal translations, at o n ce unilateral and arbitrary, that m ay b e given o f it. WT s, h ow ever charged w ith connota ord tio n , lim it the range o f ch o ic es and render difficult or im p o ssib le, and in any case exp licit and th erefore " fa lsifia b le, the relations w h ich th e language of the b od y su gg ests. It fo llo w s that sim p ly by b rin gin g to th e level of discourse - as one m u st, if on e w an ts to stu d y it scien tifically - a practice w hich owes a n u m b er of its p rop erties to th e fact that it falls sh o rt of discou rse (which d oes not m ean it is short on lo g ic) one su b jects it to n o th in g less than a change in on tological status the m ore seriou s in its theoretical co n seq u en ces because it has every chance o f p a ssin g u n n o tic e d .4 0 R itual p ractice, w h ich alw ays aim s to facilitate passages an d /or to authorize en co u n ters b etw een op p o sed orders, n ever d efines b ein gs or th in g s otherwise than in and through th e relation ship it estab lish es practically b etw een them , and m akes the fu llest p ossib le u se of the p oly sem y of th e fundam ental action s, m yth ic " r o o ts w h ose p olysem y is partially reproduced b y linguistic roots: for exam p le, the root

m ay m ean - figuratively as w e ll as literally

- to op en (transitive) a d o o r or a path (in ritual, extra-ordinary co n tex ts), the heart (cf. op en in g o n e s h eart), a sp eech (e .g . w ith a ritual form ula), th e sitting of an assem b ly, an action , the day, e t c . ; or to b e op en - applied to the " door in th e sen se of the b eg in n in g of a series, the heart (i.e . the a p p etite), the skv, a knot; or to op en (in tran sitive) - ap plied to a b u d , a face, a sh o o t, an egg; and m ore gen erally, to in augu rate, b less, m ake easy, p lace u n d er good au spices (" M ay G od op en th e d o o r s), a cluster of sen se s co v erin g virtually all the m ean in gs attached to sp rin g. B u t, b ein g broader and vaguer than the

T h e body as geom eter: cosmogonic practice

12 1

jstic r o o t, th e m y th ic a l ro o t le n d s itse lf to r ic h e r a n d m o re v aried flterplay, a n d th e s c h e m e : to o p e n ( tr a n s .) - to o p e n ( in tr a n s .) - to b e o p e n 0iakes it p o ssib le to se t u p a s so c ia tio n s a m o n g a w h o le se t o f v e rb s a n d n o u n s that go b e y o n d sim p le m o rp h o lo g ic a l a ffin ity : it can ev o k e th e r o o ts f s u , to u n b in d , u n tie , re so lv e , d iss o lv e , o p e n , a p p e a r (u s e d of y o u n g sh o o ts ; h e n c e

the name thafsuth g iv e n to s p r in g ) ; FRKh, to b lo ss o m , give b ir th (h en c e

asafrurakht b lo ss o m in g , a n d la fra k h , th e s p r o u ts w h ic h a p p e a r o n th e tre e s in sp rin g , a n d m o re g e n e ra lly , o ffsp rin g , th e o u tc o m e o f a n y b u s in e s s ), to proliferate, m u lt ip ly ; f r y , to f o rm ( tr a n s .) , to fo rm ( in tr a n s .) (a p p lie d to fig s),

to begin to g ro w (a p p lie d to w h e a t o r a b a b y ), to m u ltip ly (a n e s tfu l o f b ir d s :

ifruri eVach, th e n e s t is fu ll o f fled g lin g s re a d y to ta k e w in g ), to sh e ll, o r b e

shelled (p ea s a n d b e a n s ), a n d t h u s , to e n te r th e p e rio d w h e n fre s h b e a n s ca n be picked (lah lal usafruri), to sift a n d b e sifte d (w h e a t b e in g p re p a re d fo r grinding), s e p a ra te o r b e s e p a r a te d ( o p p o n e n ts ) , a n d th u s , to reco n cile, appease, p ac ify , d a w n (d a y lig h t w h ic h " fig h ts w ith th e n ig h t a n d " se p a ra te s from it, ifruri w a s), to b e c o m e b r ig h te r (th e w e a th e r, ifru ri elhat) ; finally, by o p p o sitio n , it c a n evoke th e ro o t f l q , to b re a k , b u r s t, s m a s h , to b e b ro k e n , burst, sm a sh e d , to s p lit a n d b e s p lit like th e egg o r p o m e g ra n a te b ro k e n at the time of m a rria g e a n d p lo u g h in g .41
One w ould on ly have to let on eself be carried alon g by the lo g ic of associations in order th e recon stru ct th e w h ole system o f sy n o n y m s and antonyms, sy n o n y m s o f sy n o n y m s and an ton ym s of an ton ym s, and so on . On one side, on e cou ld approach th e roots ' m r , fill - be filled, or (intrans.), m u ltip ly (in tr a n s.), or root
zdy, u ff, fth,


inflate, and through th e m pass to the

u n ite (tran s.) - u n ite (in tran s.) - be in u n ity (th e h o u se " fu ll of

men and g o o d s is a n u m ero u s, u n ited h o u s e ) ; on the other sid e, through the antonym s, on e w ou ld find e m p t y - b e em p tied or ruin - be ru in ed ( k h l ), separate (tran s.) - separate (in tra n s.) - be separated ( f r q ), c u t - b e sharp (QD), ex tin gu ish - be ex tin g u ish e d (t f ), e t c .42 S im ilarly, starting from the mythical root "go u p on e w ou ld find go eastw ard or b e turned eastw ard, go toward th e lig h t, go tow ard th e op en cou n try, go rightw ard, g o forw ard, go in to th e future, be born, sp ro u t, grow up (a bridge to th e p reviou s set f roots), stand u p , b e aw ake, be above, etc. or, through th e an ton ym s, go dow n, go tow ard the dark ness, go leftw ard, d eclin e, fall, lie d o w n , sleep , be below , etc. T h e nearest eq u ivalen t to th is series of gen erative sch em es b o u n d together bv relations of practical eq u iv a len ce is the system of adjectives (lourd/leger} chaudlfroid, tem e/b rilla n tf e t c .)43 w h ich are available in F rench to exp ress the ultim ate valu es o f taste and w h ich can b e applied equally w ell to a d ish or a sch o o l exercise, a play or a p ain tin g, a joke or a w alk, an accent or a garm ent, and so o n . T h is practical taxonom y ow es its efficacy to th e fact that,


G enerative schemes and p ra ctica l logic

as is evid en ced b y the n u m erou s sen ses recorded in the d iction aries, the m ean ing o f each adjective, and of its relation ship w ith its an ton ym , is sp ecified in each case in term s o f the logic of each of the fields in w hich it is a p p lie d : fro id m ay be sy n on ym ou s w ith calm e or indifferent, b ut also with frig ide or g ra v e, or again w ith austere and d istan t, d u r (hard) and sec (dry), p la t (flat) and tem e (d u ll), d ep en d in g on w h eth er it is applied to a m an or a w o m an , a head or a heart, a m elod y or a ton e of v o ice, a tin t or a work of art, a calcu lation or a fit of anger, e t c .; and it w ill have as m any antonym s as it has different sen ses: chaud (h ot) or cou rse, but also ardent or emporte (ira scib le), sensuel or chaleureux (cord ial), brillan t or expressif, eclatant (dazz lin g) or piq u a n t (p u n g en t), etc. It follow s th at, con sid ered in each of their u ses, the pairs o f qualifiers w h ich as a sy stem co n stitu te the eq u ipm en t of -th e ju d g m en t of taste are extrem ely " p o o r , quasi-in determ in ate, and ex trem ely rich, their in d efin iten ess p red isp osin g th em to inspire or express the sen se of th e indefinable: on the on e h an d , each use o f on e o f these pairs is on ly m ean in gfu l in relation to a universe o f practice w hich is different each tim e, u su ally im p licit, and alw ays self-su fficien t, ru lin g out the p ossib ility of com p arison w ith other universes. O n the oth er hand, the m ean in g w h ic h these pairs are giv en in a particular field has for h arm onics all the m ean ings w hich they th e m selv es, or any o f the cou p les that are interchangeable w ith them to w ith in a m atter of nuan ces, m ay be giv en in other fields, i.e . in slightly different con texts.

This is true, for example, of the way in which the opposition between in front and " behind functions in ritual practice: behind is where things one wants to get rid of are sent4 (e.g. in one of the rites associated with the loom these words are 4 , uttered: "May the angels be before m and the devil behind me"; in another rite, e a child is rubbed behind the ear so that he will send evil "behind his ear); behind is where ill fortune comes from (a woman on her way to m arket to sell the products of her industry, a blanket, yarn, etc., or the produce of her husbandry, hens, eggs, etc., must not look behind her or the sale will go badly; the whirlwind - thim siw ray -attacks from behind the m who faces the qibla to pray); "behind is naturally an associated with "inside , with the fem (the eastern, front door is male, the western, ale back door is female), with all that is private, hidden, and secret; but it also is associated with that which follows, trailing behind on the earth, the source of fertility, abru \ the train of a garment, an amulet, happiness: the bride entering her new house strews fruit, eggs, and wheat behind her, symbolizing prosperity. These m eanings interweave with all those associated with "in front, going forward, confronting (qabel ), going into the future, going eastward, toward the light, and it would not be difficult to reconstruct the quasi-totality of Kabyle ritual practices from this one scheme.
T h is p lurality of m ean ings at on ce different and m ore or less closely interrelated is a product of scien tific co llec tio n . Each o f th e significations co llected exists in its practical state on ly in th e relationship b etw een a schem e

T he body as geom eter: cosmogonic practice


(or th e product o f a sc h e m e , a w ord for exam p le) and a sp ecific situ ation . T h is is w h y it is n ot legitim ate to speak o f the different m ea n in g s o f a sym bol UIje s s it is borne in m ind that th e assem b lin g o f th ese m ea n in g s in sim u ltan eity (or o n th e sam e page o f a dictionary, in the case o f w ord s) is a scientific artefact and that they n ev er exist sim u ltan eou sly in practice. O n the on e hand, as V endryes p oin ted o u t, a w ord cannot alw ays appear w ith all its m eanings at once, w ith ou t tu rn in g d iscou rse into an en d less play on w o r d s ; on the other hand, if all the m ean in gs a w ord is capable of taking w ere perfectly independent of the basic m ean in g, no play on w ord s w ould ever b e p o ssib le. T h is is eq u ally true o f th e sy m b o ls o f ritual. A m on g the fo rm s w h ich a basic opp o sitio n m ay take, there are alw ays som e w h ich fu n ctio n as " sw itc h e rs, concretely estab lish in g th e relation ship b etw een the u n iv erses of practice: here, fo r exam p le, the relation sh ip b etw een " b e h in d and " in s id e , w hich provides the passage from " b e h in d to fem ale p rosp erity, i.e . fe r tility male prosperity b ein g lin k ed to "in fr o n t through the in term ed iary of the bond b etw een "in fr o n t , th e fu tu re, and ligh t. T h e ob jectified path of th ese passages is som etim es m arked o u t b y sayin gs w h ich state th e an alogies ("the m aiden is th e wall of d a rk n ess , or "w om an is the w e s t , or "w om an is the m o o n ) b etw een the d ifferen t series. T h e universes of m ean in g corresp ond ing to different u n iv erses o f practice are at on ce self-con tain ed - h en ce protected from logical con trol through system atization - and objectively con sisten t w ith all the o th ers, insofar as they are the loosely system atic prod ucts o f a system o f m ore or less com p letely integrated gen erative p rin cip les fu n ction in g in a structurally invariant w ay in the m ost d iverse fields o f practice. W ithin the " f u z z y logic o f approxim ation which im m ed iately a ccep ts as eq u ivalen ts " fla t, "dull*, and " in sip id , favourite valu e-ju d gm en t term s o f th e F rench aesth ete or teach er, or, in the Kabvle trad ition, " f u ll, " c lo se d , " in s id e , " u n d ern ea th , wT ich on closer h inspection are p erfectly in com m en su rab le, the generative sc h e m e s are in ter changeable p ractically; th is is w h y th ey can only generate products that are indeed system atic but are so b y virtue o f a fu zzy sy stem a ticity and an approxim ate lo g ic wr ich cannot w ithstand the test o f rational system atization h and logical criticism .45 L ack in g sym b olic m astery o f the sc h e m e s and their products - sch em es w h ich th ey are, p rod u cts w h ich th ey d o - th e only w ay m w hich agents can ad eq u ately m aster th e p rod uctive apparatus w hich enables th em to gen erate correctly form ed ritual p ractices is b y m aking it operate .4 T h is is wr 6 hat the observer is likely to forget, b ecau se he cannot recapture th e logic im m an en t in th e recorded prod ucts of th e apparatus excep t by con stru ctin g a m odel w h ich is p recisely th e su b stitu te requ ired w hen one does not have (or n o lon ger has) im m ed iate m astery of th e apparatus. Every su ccessfu lly socialized agen t thu s p ossesses, in th eir incorporated 52


G en erative schemes an d practica l logic

state, the in stru m en ts of an ord erin g of th e w orld , a system of classify^ sch em es w h ich organ izes all p ractices, and o f w h ich the lin g u istic schern^ (to w h ich th e n eo-K an tian tradition - and th e eth n om eth od ological school n ow adays - attribute unjustified au ton om y and im portance) are only one asp ect. T o grasp through the con stitu ted reality of m yth the constituting m o m en t of th e m yth op oeic act is n ot, as id ealism su p p oses, to seek in the co n sc io u s m ind th e universal stru ctures o f a "m y th o p o eic su b jec tiv ity and th e u n ity of a spiritual prin cip le gov ern in g all em pirically realized configura tio n s regardless of social co n d itio n s. It is, on the contrary, to reconstruct the p rin cip le gen erating and u n ify in g all p ractices, th e system o f inseparably co g n itive and evaluative stru ctures w h ich organ izes the vision o f th e world in accordance w ith th e ob jective stru ctures of a determ inate state o f the social w orld : th is prin cip le is n o th in g other than the socially inform ed body, with its tastes and d ista stes, its co m p u lsio n s an d rep u lsio n s, w ith , in a w ord, all its senses, that is to say, not on ly th e traditional five se n se s - w h ich never escape th e stru ctu rin g action of social d eterm in ism s - but also the sen se o f necessity and the sen se o f d u ty , th e sen se of d irection and th e sen se of reality, the sense o f balance and the sen se o f b eau ty, com m on sen se and th e sen se of th e sacred, tactical sen se and the sen se o f resp on sib ility, b u sin ess sense and th e sense of propriety, the sen se o f h u m ou r and the sen se of absurdity, m oral sense and th e sen se o f p racticality, and so on .

Union an d separation T o th e foregoin g list sh ou ld b e added w hat m igh t b e called th e sense o f limits an d o f the legitim ate transgression o f lim its, w h ich is th e basis at o n ce o f the ordering of th e w orld (k n ow n , sin ce P arm enides, as diakosmesis) and o f the ritual action s in tend ed to au th orize or facilitate the necessary or unavoidable breaches o f that order. " T h e w orld is based on th e lim it [thalasth] , said an old K a b y le. " H eaven and earth are separated by th e lim it. T h e ey es have an en closure [zerb ], T h e m ou th has a lim it. E veryth in g has a lim it. T o bring order is to brin g d istin c tio n , to d ivid e the u n iv erse into o p p o sin g entities, w h ich the p rim itive sp ecu lation o f the P yth agoreans set out as tw o "columns o f co n tra ries (sustoichiai) ,47 B u t the n ecessities o f practice d em and the reunion of th in g s w h ich practical logic has su nd ered - in m arriage or ploughin g, for exam p le - and on e fu n ctio n o f ritual is precisely to eu p h em ize, and th u s to m ake licit, th ese u navoid able tran sgression s of the b oun dary. N ot su rp risin gly, it proved difficult to find a p lace in the "colu m n s of contraries for an op p osition as p rod u ctive as that of th e odd and the even , and more gen erally, for all the sy m b o lic ob jects and action s w h ich can be generated from the sch em e unite (tran s.) - unite (in tran s.) - be in unity (the root z d y ) and its

Union and separation

I2 5

n o site separate (tran s.) - separate (in tran s.) - be separated (th e root f r q , or

cUt - be sharp, and all the roots associated w ith them from the p oint of riew of ritual m ean in g, close - b e closed , extin gu ish - be ex tin g u ish ed , kill,

laughter, harvest, e t c .) . T h e p rinciple o f d iv isio n can n ot easily be classified

among the th in g s that it m akes it p ossib le to classify. T h is d ifficulty w as encountered b y E m p ed ocles, w h o set asid e p h ilia and neikos, love and strife, as two ultim ate p rin cip les irreducible to th e op p o sitio n s w h ich thanks to them can be dialecticallv c o m b in e d .4 W hen E m p ed o cles g iv e s as sy n o n y m s of 8
diakrisis and synkrisis - an op p osition w h ich seem s to b elo n g to the order of

logic, in w h ich u nion and d ivision do in deed figure, but in a v ery su blim ated
form - wr ords as load ed as p h th ora, corru p tion , or genesis, gen eration, and for the secon d, m ixis, w h ich can also be translated as u n io n , but th is tim e in the sense of m arriage, he p o in ts to th e p rin cip le o f th e practical logic of rite, w'hose operations are in sep arab ly logical and b iological, as are th e natural p rocesses which it reproduces, w'hen th ou gh t in accordance w ith the sch em es of

magical th o u g h t .4 9
It is th u s p ossib le to d escrib e th e w h ole system of ritual sy m b o ls and actions by m ean s of a sm all n um ber of antagonistic sym bols (th e paradigm of which is the op p o sitio n b etw een the sex es, and w h ich are p roduced from a small num ber o f sch em es) and a sm all num ber o f (logical and b iological) practical operators w h ich are n oth in g other than natural p rocesses culturally constituted in and through ritual p ractice, su ch as m arriage and p lo u gh in g seen as the union o f contraries and m urder or h arvestin g seen as the separation of contraries (p rocesses w h ich the logic of ritual mimesis, as su ch , rep rod u ces). Because the u n ion of contraries d oes not d estroy th e op p o sitio n (wr hich it p resupposes), th e reun ited contraries are just as m uch o p p o sed , but nowTin a quite d ifferen t w ay, th ereb y m anifestin g th e d u ality of th e relationship between th em , at on ce antagonism and com p lem en tarity , neikos and p h ilia , which m igh t appear as th eir ow n tw ofold " n a tu r e if th ey w ere con ceived outside that relation sh ip . T h u s the h ou se, wr ich has all th e n egative charac h teristics o f the dark, n octurnal, fem ale w orld , and is in this respect the equivalent o f th e tom b or the m aiden, ch an ges its d efinition w h en it becom es what it equally is, the place par excellen ce o f coh ab itation and of the m arriage of contraries, w h ich , like th e w ife, " th e lam p of th e in s id e , en clo ses its ow n light. W hen the roof has b een put on a n ew h ou se, it is the m arriage lam p that is called u p o n to bring the first ligh t. Each th in g th u s receives different properties accord in g as it is apprehended in th e state o f u n io n or th e state f separation, but it is not p ossib le to con sid er eith er of th ese states as its objective tru th , w ith the other b ein g regarded as an im p erfect, m utilated form of that tru th . T h u s cu ltivated nature, th e sacred of th e left h and, the ^ a le-fem a le, or m ale-d om in ated fem ale, for exam p le m arried w om an or

12 6

G en erative schemes an d p ra c tic a l logic lan d , i 9 o p p o sed n ot o n ly to th e m ale in gen eral - u n ited or se

arated - but also and esp ecially to natural nature, w h ich is still w ild and u ntam ed - fallow land and th e m aid en - or has returned t o th e twisted m aleficen t naturalness in to w h ich it falls o u tsid e m arriage - th e harvested field or th e old w itch , w ith th e cu n n in g and treachery w h ich relate her to the jackal .50
T h is opposition betw een a fem ale-fem ale and a m ale-fem ale is attested in countless ways. T h e fem ale wom an par excellen ce is the wom an w ho d oes not depend on any m an, who has escaped from the authority of her parents, her husband, and her husbands fam ily, and has no children. Such a wom an is w ithout hurm a: "she is bad w o o d ; " she is tw isted w o o d . S h e is akin to fallow land, the w ilderness; she has affinities w ith the dark forces of uncontrolled nature. M agic is her b usiness (thamgarth thazemnith, the old w itch; settuth, the w itch in the tales). A sterile -woman must not plant in the garden or carry seed s. Every wom an partakes of the diabolic nature of the fem ale w om an, especially during m enstruation, w hen she m ust not prepare meals, work in the garden, plant, pray, or fast (elkhalethf the collective noun for " w om anhood is also em p tin ess, the void, the desert, ruin). A n d conversely, the unbridled, sterile old w om an w ho no longer has any " restraint brings the virtualities inherent in every wom an to their full realization. Like the young sh o o t w hich, left to itself, tends to the left and has to be brought back to the right (or the upright) at the cost of a " k n o t, "wom an is a knot in the w o o d (thamttuth d iriz). T h e "old w om an is in league w ith all that is tw isted (a 'w a j, to tw ist) and all that is warped or warping: she is credited w ith thi'iw ji, the m aleficent, suspect craftiness w hich also defines the smith ; she specializes in the magic w hich uses the left hand, the cruel hand (a "left-handers b lo w is a deadly b low ), and turns from right to left (as opposed to m an, w ho uses the right hand, the hand used in sw earing an oath, and turns from left to right); she is adept in the art of slyly "tw isting her g a z e (abran w alan) away from the person to w hom she w ishes to express her disapproval or annoyance (abran, to turn from right to left, to make a slip of the tongue, to turn back to front, in short, to turn in the wrong direction, is opposed to geleb, to turn on es back, to overturn, as a discreet, furtive, passive m ovem ent, a female sid estep p in g, a " tw iste d move, a magical device, is to op en , honest, straightforward, male a g gression ).51

T h e fu n d am en tal operators, u n itin g and sep aratin g, are th e practical eq u i v a len ts o f filling and em p ty in g (plerosis and ken osis): to m arry is 'am m ar, to be fu ll. T h ro u g h th is, they can even b e redu ced to th e fundam ental o p p o sitio n s: to m oisten and to d ry , to fem in ize and to m a scu lin ize. T h is is seen clearly in th e sign ifican ce assign ed to ev ery th in g sy m b o lizin g th e union o f con traries. T h u s th e crossroads, w h ich is op p o sed to th e fork as th e place "w h ere th e paths m e e t (anidha itsam yagaran ibardhan) to th e place "w here th e paths d iv id e (anidh a itsam faraqen ibardhan) , is the p o in t o f convergence o f th e four cardinal d irectio n s and of th o se w h o co m e and g o in those d irectio n s. A s su ch , it is th e sym b ol of fu lln e ss ( i 'mar u bridh, th e path is p eo p led , fu ll), an d, m ore p recisely, of m ale fu lln ess, w h ich is o p p o se d o n the on e hand to th e em p tin ess of th e field and forest ( lakhla) a n d on th e other hand to fem ale fu lln ess ( la'm ara), the village or th e h o u s e .52 A sterile w om an ,

Union an d separation

12 7

a girl w ho can n ot find a h u sb an d , g o es to a crossroads, a full p lace p eopled f men, to bathe naked in th e w ater from th e tem p erin g vat just before ^nrise, that is, at th e m o m en t w h en the day is stru gg lin g w ith th e n ig h t; and the water in w h ich sh e has b ath ed is poured away at a crossroads regularly used bv the flocks (a p rom ise o f fe c u n d ity ).53 T h e fearfu ln ess o f any operation reuniting contraries is particularly em p h asized in th e case of tem p erin g (asqi, also m eaning b roth , sau ce, and p o iso n in g ), w h ich stan d s in the sam e relation to copulation as the crossroads - fu lln ess in em p tin ess, m ale fu lln ess - to the house: sequi is to u n ite th e w et and th e d ry, in th e action o f sp rin k lin g couscous w ith sau ce: to u nite th e hot and th e cold , fire and w ater, the dry and the w et, in tem p erin g ; to p our ou t b u rn in g (or b u rn t) w ater, p oison. T em pering is a terrib le act of v io len ce allied w ith cu n n in g , perform ed b y a terrible b ein g, th e sm ith , w h o se an cestor, S id i-D a o u d , cou ld h o ld red -h ot iron in his bare hands and w ou ld p u n ish tardy payers by offerin g th em on e o f his products w ith an in n ocen t air after first h eatin g it w h ite -h o t. U n itin g and separatin g each entail th e sam e sacrilegiou s v io le n c e, w h ich breaks th e natural order of th in g s to im p ose on th em th e counter-natural order which d efin es cu ltu re. W itn ess th e fact that th e acts co n sistin g o f m ix in g or cutting, u n itin g or d iv id in g , in fact fall to th e sam e p erson s, all eq u ally feared and d esp ised - th e sm ith , th e b u tch er, and th e corn -m ea su rer .54 It is alm ost always th e sm ith w h o is ap p oin ted to p erform all th e sa crilegiou s, sacred acts of cu ttin g, w h eth er it be th e slau gh ter of th e sacrificial o x or circu m cision (although he d oes n ot sit in th e a ssem b ly, h is o p in io n is alw ays taken into account in m atters of war or v io le n c e ), and, if certain testim o n ie s are to be believed, in so m e villages he is even en tru sted w ith th e inaugural p lo u g h in g . C onversely, in at least on e village, the p erson charged w ith starting the ploughing, the last d escen d an t o f th e m an w h o fou n d a piece o f iron in the earth at th e sp ot w h ere lig h tn in g had stru ck , and m ade h is p lo u gh sh are ou t of it, is resp on sib le for all th e acts of v io le n c e by fire and iron (circu m cisio n , scarification, ta to o in g , e t c .).55 T h e reason for th is is that in all su ch ca ses m an's in tervention , h is very p resen ce at th e crossroads o f th e o p p o sin g fo rces w hich he m ust b rin g in to con tact in order to en su re th e su rvival o f th e g rou p , is a su prem ely d angerou s op eration . Just as a m an can n ot con fron t w om an u ntil assured o f the m agical p rotection g iv en b y circu m cisio n , so th e p lough m an p uts on a w h ite w o o lle n sk ull-cap and arkasen , leather sandals w h ich m ust not enter th e h o u se , in order to avoid m akin g h im self th e m eetin g -p o in t of sky and earth and their an tagon istic forces (w h ereas, to glean and clear the fields, th e w o m e n , w h o partake o f th e terrestrial p ow ers, go b arefoot in to the fields ).5 6 T h e tem poral d istrib u tion of tasks and rites, that is, th e ch ron ological structure of the agrarian year or of th e cy cle o f life , is th e p rod uct at on ce


G en erative schemes an d practica l logic

o f the diacritical intent (separation) w h ich orders by op p o sin g , and the synthetic intent (un ion) w h ich creates passages betwr een the contraries by means o f rites (of passage) w h ich attain th eir full in ten sity w hen the union or separation o f the antagon istic p rin cip les is effected b y hum an agency. On the o n e h and, there is the fundam ental o p p ositio n , alw ays m entioned bv in form an ts, b etw een the tw o " u p b e a ts stru cturin g the year, lyali, "the n ig h ts , and sm aim , th e d ogdays, in w h ich the properties of the w et season and the dry season are brought to th eir h ighest degree o f in ten sity; on the other hand, there are th e in sen sib le, ever-threatened transitions between o p p o sin g p rin cip les, and the rites of p assage o f a particular kind w hich are in ten d ed to en su re that m en and th e elem en ts respect "th e order of tim e (chronou taxis), that is, th e order of th e w orld : fem inization o f th e male in a u tu m n , w ith p lou gh in g and so w in g and the rain-m aking rites which accom pan y th em , and m ascu lin ization of the fem ale in sp rin g, with the p rogressive separation o f the grain and th e earth w hich is com p leted with the harvest. T h e prim ary reason w h y ly a li, "the n ig h t s , is referred to by all informants, and alw ays in relation to sm aim , is that th e w inter o f w in ter and the summer o f su m m er in a sen se concentrate w ith in th em selves all the oppositions stru ctu rin g th e w orld and th e agrarian year. T h e period of forty days which is b elieved to represent the tim e the se ed sowT in autum n takes to emerge n is th e prim e exam p le o f the slack p eriod s, d u rin g w h ich n oth in g h appens and all w ork is su sp en d ed , and w h ich are m arked by n o major rite (ex p ect a few p rogn ostication rites ).57 T h e fecu n d ated field, d u ly p rotected , like a woman, w ith a thorn fen ce ( zerb), is the site of a m ysteriou s, u np redictab le toil which n o outw ard sign betrays, and w h ich resem b les the cooking of w'heat or beans in th e pot or the w ork accom p lish ed in w om an 's w o m b . T h is period is indeed th e w inter o f w in ter, the n igh t o f n ig h t, wT hen th e boar m ates, the m om ent w h en th e natural wT orld is given over to th e fem ale forces o f fecun dity natural, w ild forces w hich can never be said to be perfectly, finally d o m e stica ted .58 T h e con tin u in g assaults o f w in ter, cold, and n igh t serve to rem ind m en o f the h idd en violen ce of th e fem ale nature. In the "quarrel betwr een w inter and m a n ,59 w in ter is p resen ted as a w om an (th e nam e of the season , chathw a, b ein g treated as a personified w o m a n s n am e), and d o u b tless an old w om an, th e incarnation o f th e m aleficen t forces of death and d estru ction , d isorder and d ivision , wT o is forced to renou n ce her lust for h v io len ce and sh ow m ore m oderation and clem en cy w hen defeated in her stru ggle w ith m an. T h is is a sort o f origin m yth em p h asizin g th e fact that w in ter, like w om an , is d u al-n atu red : w in ter con tains b oth th e purely fem ale w o m an , u nadulterated, u n tam ed , incarnated in the old w om an , em p ty , dry, sterile w o m a n . i.e . the fem ale p rin cip le w h ich old age reduces to its objective,

Union and separation


rely negative tr u th ;6 b ut there is also th e tam ed, d om esticated w om an, 0 ^ m a n fulfilled, i.e . fertility, the work of gestation and germ ination accom p

lished by nature w hen fecun dated by m an. It is w ith in th is lo g ic that the

famous "days of the old w o m a n , and the other m om en ts o f tran sition and

rupture, m ust be u n d erstood . T h e w hole o f nature - the earth w ith its buried seed, but also the w om b - is th e scen e of a stru ggle sim ilar to that betw een the cold and darkness of w in ter, an evil, sterile old w om an , and th e springtim e forces of light w ith w h ich m an is in league. In all th e legen d s of th e borrow ed
days (am erdil, th e loan ), w h ich are perhaps m ore than just a way o f accoun ting for the u nexpected return o f bad w eather, a b ein g partaking o f th e nature

of winter, usually an old w om an (like W inter h erself), a goat, or a N eg ro (the slave H ayan ), som etim es even a jackal, the em b od im en t of natural disord er ,61 is sacrificed b y w in ter, or, n o d ou b t, sacrificed to w in ter, as a scapegoat. T h is is perhaps the price that has to be paid for th e old w itch W inter to agree to respect the lim its assigned to her, as sh e d oes w h en she asks th e follow in g
period to lend her a few days. Sm aim, the d ogdays, is to the dry season exactly w hat ly a li is to the w et season: th is slack p eriod, w h ich is op p osed to essaif, the harvest, just as w ithin the wet season lyali, another slack p eriod, is op p osed to lahlal, p lou gh in g, presents all the properties of the dry season . T h e dry, sterile kingd om of summer is en tered in M ay, a m onth regarded as u n p rop itiou s fo r any act of procreation (h en ce for m arriages ).6 T h e rites w hich mark th e '"first day of 2 sum m er, also know n as " th e death o f the la n d , and even m ore, th e rites of the su m m er so lstice, in sla> w h ich occurs at the b egin n in g of sm aim , make use of iron and fire, and in stru m en ts forged w ith fire - the p lou gh sh are, the sickle, the carding-com b, an d also th e dagger (w h ich cu ts th e throats of sacrificial anim als and m en s throats too) - in stru m ents u sed to cu t, ch op , pierce, burn, or b leed (tattooin g; p reven tive or curative scarification w ith a stick of oleander, a plant not u sed in the a z a l b ou q u et; piercing th e little g irls ears; b leed in g perform ed on the m en and the anim als, e tc .).63 T h e night of sla , in the course o f w h ich sterile, p u rifyin g fires are lit in th e h ouse, in the m idst of the flock, in th e orchards, in th e fields, by th e h iv es, on the threshing-floor, e tc ., is g iv e n over to sterility; it is said that w o m en cannot conceive th en , and that ch ild ren born on that day are th em selv es con d em n ed to sterility (as are m arriages celebrated th e n ). T h e tim e o f th e d ry is also the time for salt, for roast, sp iced food , virile and virilizin g, like the dried herbs Used to m ake it, the tim e for w heatcake and o il, w hich is to su m m er food as butter is to w in ter fo o d .64 A ccord ing to D esta in g , th e Beni S n o u s used to Set an upturned cook in g pot ( a sym b ol o f th e b lackness and w etn e ss o f w inter) With its bottom coated w ith lim e (blackness w h iten ed ) in the k itchen gardens (the place for fem ale cu ltivation ) at the tim e of in sla. Sm aim p resen ts all the


G en erative schemes an d practical logic

features of su m m er in their pure state, i.e . w ith ou t adm ixture or attenuationit is to the year w hat a z a l (th e h ottest tim e o f the day) or, m ore exactly, the m id d le of a z a l (thalm asth uzal)> is to th e cycle of th e day. L ike a z a l, smaim, the desert ( lakh la) of the h arvested fields, th e tim e o f iron and fire, violence and death (th e tim e of th e sw ord -ed ge, semm) is the m ale tim e par excellen ce.

Thresholds an d rites o f passage T h e transitional p eriods have all th e properties of the threshold, a sort of sacred boundary b etw een tw o sp aces, w here the an tagon istic prin cip les con fron t one another and the w orld is reversed. T h e rites of these m om en ts also ob ey the p rin cip le, already en cou n tered , o f th e m axim ization o f m agical profit. T hey .aim to en su re the con cordan ce of the m yth ical calendar, w hich requires rain to co m e a t the right moment, p lou gh in g tim e, and the clim atic calendar, with its w h im s and vagaries, b y facilitatin g the p assages, a ccom p an yin g or if need be acceleratin g the passage from th e dry to the w et in a u tu m n or from the w et to the dry in sp rin g, en d eavou rin g at the sam e tim e to con serve for as lo n g as p ossib le th e ad vantages of the d eclin in g season . T h is is ob viou sly the case w ith all the au tu m n rites in ten d ed to aid th e co m in g o f rain: not only the ritual gam es, w h ich are p layed in every season w h en rain is n eed ed , such as kura (a ball gam e in w h ich tw o team s, east and w est, eq u ip p ed w ith wooden stick s, try to push a ball, th e ku ra, in to the o p p o sin g ca m p ), but also thimechret, the sacrifice of an ox (ch osen for the rain-cloud colour (a zeg za w ) o f its coat and evok in g th u n d er b y its low in g) and th e inauguration o f the p lo u g h in g (a w d jeb ), w h ich insofar as it ritually m im es the fearful union of contraries, is in itself an in vocation of rain. It is also true o f the com position and preparation of the food con su m ed on ordinary and extraordinary occa sio n s, w h ich , practically treated as a ritual o f p a rticipation , m anifests the sign ifican ce con ferred on the tran sition from on e season to another. T h e diet o f au tu m n , gen erated in accordance w ith the sch em e of soaking th e dry, is m ade up of dry fo o d s (cereals, dry v egetab les, dried m eat) w h ich are boiled in w a ter, w ithou t spices, in the cook in g-p ot, or (w h ich am ou n ts to the sam e th in g ) steam ed , or raised w ith yeast. But au tu m n is also the p o in t w here the cou rse o f the w orld turns round and everyth in g is turned over to enter its o p p o site , th e m ale in to the fem ale, the seed in to the w om b of the earth, men and b easts in to the h ou se, ligh t (w ith th e lam p) into darkness, u n til th e return of sp rin g, w h ich w ill set back on its feet a w orld turned u p sid e d ow n, m om entarily abandoned to the su prem acy o f the fem ale p rin cip le, the w om b , w om an , the h ou se, and th e darkness of n ig h t .6 5 In d eed , m ore so than au tu m n , w h ich is d om in ated b y the sharp break that p lo u gh in g m arks, and b y th e lo g ic o f fecu n d ation , in terw oven w ith the ritual

Thresholds and rites o f passage work of m oisten in g th e dry, sp rin g is an in term in able tran sition, con stantly suspended and threaten ed , b etw een the w et and the dry, b eg in n in g im m ediatelv after lyali; or, b etter, a stru ggle b etw een tw o p rin cip les w ith u n ceasin g reversals and ch an ges in fortu n e. T h e role of m ankind in this stru g g le, w hich

resembles th e battle fou gh t ou t every m orn in g b etw een darkness and light,
can only be that of an xious on lookers: h en ce perhaps, a m on g other sig n s, the m ultitude o f calendar term s alm ost all d escrib in g the state of th e w eather or the crops. In th is tim e of w aitin g, w hen the fate of the seed lin g s d ep en d s on a fem ale, am b igu ou s nature, and m an can n ot in tervene w ith o u t danger, the virtual cessation o f activity reflects his lim ited con trol over the processes of germ ination and gestation ; it falls to w om an to play th e part of a m id w ife and to offer nature a sort of ritual and tech n ical assistance (h o e in g , for exam ple) in its lab o u r .6 6 T h is tim e o f rupture and separation has the sam e role in the cycle of the grain as that played in the cycle of life b y th e rites in ten d ed to en su re the progressive virilization o f the g row in g boy (initially a fem ale b e in g ), b eg in n in g at birth and alw ays in volvin g fire or in stru m en ts m ade w ith fire .6 A ll the 7 characteristic features of this d ifficult transition are in a sense concentrated in the series of critical moments, like husum and natah, tim es of crisis w h en all the evil p ow ers o f w in ter seem to revive and to endanger g row th and life one last tim e, or nisan, w h ich th ou gh regarded as b en ignan t is not exem p t from threats - am b igu ou s p eriods w h ich , even at their w orst, con tain th e hope of the b est and, even at their b est, the threat of the w orst. E veryth in g takes place as if each of th em bore w ith in it th e conflict w h ich o v ersh ad ow s the w hole season - and also th e u ncertain ty ab out the future w h ich cau ses th ese inaugural p eriods (esp ecially husum or th e first day o f sp rin g ) to b e , like m orning, tim es for the rites of progn ostication and inaugural p ractices. T h e am bigu ity is in sp rin g it s e lf : sp rin gtim e m eans grow th and ch ild h o o d , to be celebrated w ith jo y , like the inaugural day o f the sea so n , b u t it also m eans the vu lnerab ility and fragility o f all b eg in n in g s. S p rin g is to su m m er as green and raw ( a ze g za w ) and ten der ( th alaqaqth ) th in g s - th e u n rip e corn or the baby, and green p rod u ce, the eatin g of w h ich is seen as u n tim ely destruction ( a d h a m ) - are to fu ll-grow n , y ello w (iw ragh en ), ripe, dry, har dened p ro d u ce .6 T h e w om en are logically charged w ith all th e tasks in v o lv in g 8 the protection o f th in g s that grow and sh o o t, that are green and ten der; it is the w o m e n s d u ty to w atch over th e grow th of the y o u n g h um ans and anim als, the m orn in g of life. A s w ell as h oein g, th e w o m en s w ork in clu d es gathering herbs and vegetab les in the garden, look in g after the co w , m ilk ing *t, and m aking b u tter, a fem ale p rod uct w h ich is op p o sed to oil as th e inside and the w et to th e ou tsid e and th e dry. T h e precise locu s of the th resh old , w h ere th e order of th in g s turns u p sid e

I 32

G en erative schemes and practica l logic

d ow n ( aqlab), "lik e a w heatcake in the p a n , is ex p licitly m arked by the "return of a z a ll ( tharurith w a z a l) , th e p oin t of d iv isio n b etw een th e w et season and the dry season , w here th e year tip s over: th e rh ythm o f th e w orking dav - d efined b y th e m om en t w hen the flock g o e s ou t - ch a n g es, and w ith it the group's w h o le ex isten ce. T h e fire is brought out and the kanun is set up in the cou rtyard. T h e flock w ith its sh ep h erd , the h o u sew ife b u sy w ith the tasks o f m ilk in g and treatin g th e m ilk , b rin g in to th e rites n ew elem en ts partaking m ore o f the dry than of th e w et. T h e flock ceases to b e fed on ten d er green p lants from th e cu ltivated fields and g o es and grazes instead on w ild , dry p lants. T h e h erb s, flow ers, and branches that th e sh ep h erd b rin gs back with h im on h is first return at th e hour o f a z a l, w h ich g o to m ake u p th e bouquet, called a z a l, that is ritually placed ab ove th e th resh old (fern , cv tisis, bramble, th y m e, len tisk , m ale fig-tree b ran ch es, asparagus, elm , thap sia, myrtle, tam arind, heather, broom - in sh ort, " everyth in g the w in d shakes in the co u n trysid e ) are th e w ild p ro d u cts of fallow land ( and not th e p rod u ct, even parasiticallv, o f cu ltivated lan d, like th e p lan ts gathered by th e w om en while h o ein g ). T h e ch an ge in food is even clearer: th e sp ecial d ish es o f tharurith w a z a l give a p rom in en t place to m ilk , as in th e p rev io u s p eriod, b ut it is now eaten in cook ed or boiled form .

Reunion o f contraries an d denial T h e tim es o f separation , w h en the o p p o sin g p rin cip les m ay be said to exist in th eir p ure state, as in su m m er, or to threaten , in th e case o f w in ter, to return to it, and th e tim e s of reu n ion , w hen the dry returns to th e w et, as in au tu m n , or th e w et returns to th e d ry, as in sp rin g , are m o m en ts opposed to on e an oth er; b ut they are also op p osed in a d ifferen t w ay, as m o m en ts in w h ich reunion and separation are a ccom p lish ed w ith o u t any m ore than sy m b o lic participation on th e part of m an, to th e tim es w hen reun ion and separation take on a critical form b ecau se it falls to m an h im self to b rin g them ab ou t. It is p recisely here that th e stru cture o f ritual practice is articulated w ith th e structure of farm ing a c tiv ity : th e o p p o sitio n b etw een th e propitiator)' rites o f th e transitional p eriod s and th e san ctio n in g rites w hich are obligatory for th e w h o le grou p and ab ove all for th e m en , d uring the periods o f hum an in terven tion in nature, harvestin g and p lo u g h in g , appears in fact as the retranslation in to th e sp ecific logic o f ritual o f the o p p o sitio n - structuring th e agrarian year - b etw een the tim e of w ork and the m u ch lon ger tim e of p ro d u ction , d u rin g w h ich th e grain - like th e pottery set ou t to dry u n d ergoes a p urely natural p rocess of tran sform ation . T h e h igh m o m en ts in th e agrarian year, th ose w h ich M arx d esign ates w orkin g perio d s, are m arked b y rites con trastin g in their gravity, so le m n ity , and im perative character w ith

Reunion o f contraries an d denial


t^e rites o f th e production periods, w h o se so le fu n ctio n is to lend m agical assistance to nature in its labour (see fig.

3).6 9

T h e rites w h ich accom pan y p lo u g h in g or m arriage have the fu n ctio n o f disguising and th ereb y san ctio n in g th e in evitab le co llisio n o f tw o contrary principles that th e peasant b rin gs ab out in forcin g nature, d o in g it v io len ce and violation, as he m u st, w ith p lou gh sh are and k nife, sickle and loom instrum ents fearful in th e m selv es, b ein g the w ork o f th e sm ith , th e m aster of fire. T h e aim is to transform in to in ten tion ally perform ed, and hen ce judiciously eu p h em ized , ritual acts the ob jectively sacrileg io u s acts o f separat ing, cu ttin g, and d iv id in g th in g s w h ich nature (i.e . th e ta x o n o m y ) has u n ited (when reaping, cu ttin g th e yarn after w ea v in g , or cu ttin g the throat of the sacrificial ox );70 or to reu n ite - in tem p erin g, m arriage, or p lo u g h in g - th in g s which nature (i.e . th e taxon om y) has p ut asu nd er. W hen o b jectiv ely sacri legious acts can n ot b e d elegated to an inferior b ein g , a sacrificer and scap e goat w hose role is to "take aw ay ill fo r tu n e 71 (lik e th e slau ghter o f th e ox in the collective sacrifices, w h ich is en tru sted to th e sm ith or a N eg ro , and tem p er ing, the task of th e sm ith , a m an b oth feared and resp ected ) b u t m ust be shouldered by th o se w h o undertake and b en efit from th e m (lik e th e defloration of the bride, tu rn in g th e first furrow , c u ttin g th e last thread in w ea v in g , harvesting the last sh ea f), th ey are transfigured by a co llectiv e mise en scene intended to im p o se on th em a co llectiv ely proclaim ed sy m b o lic value w hich is the exact o p p osite o f their socially recogn ized , and hen ce no less ob jectiv e, truth. T h e w hole truth o f m agic and collectiv e b elief is con tain ed in th is gam e of tw ofold ob jective tru th , a d o u b le gam e played w ith tru th , through w hich the grou p , the sou rce o f all ob jectiv ity , in a sen se lies to itself, p ro d u cin g a truth w hose so le m ean in g and fu n ctio n are to d en y a truth know n and recognized by all, a lie w h ich w ould d eceiv e no o n e, w ere not everyon e d eterm ined to d eceiv e himself. In the case o f th e h arvest, th e social tru th to be co llectiv ely d en ied is an u nam biguous o n e: th e harvest (tham egra) is a m urder (tham gert, th e throat, violent death, reven ge; am gar, sic k le ), in w h ich the earth, fecu n d ated by p lou gh in g, is strip p ed of th e p rod uce it has b rou gh t to m aturity.
T he ritual of the last sheaf, of w hich w e have countless descriptions - no doubt because attention was drawn to it by Frazers analyses72 - and hence alm ost as many Variants, always consists essentially in sym bolically denying the inevitable murder of the field, or of the source of its fecu n d ity, the 'spirit of the co rn of "spirit of the field , by transforming it into a sacrifice conducive to resurrection. From the names given to the last sheaf, it seem s that the " spirit of the field w hose perpetuation is to be affirmed is practically identified, depending on the variant, either with an animal (inform ants speak of "the mane of the field and " th e tail of the field ) or w ith a bride, thislith, destined to die after having borne her fruit (inform ants speak of 'the curl of the field' and the plait of the fie ld ). T o these different representations


i.' Id

h X w fm O

* ca -s. S

iJ 4

Fig. 3. The fanning

year and the mythical year

Reunion o f contraries and denial


correspond d iffe re n t ritu a ls: in so m e v illa g e s it is h e ld to be a sin to re a p th e last sh eaf,

^ h ich is le ft sta n d in g in th e m id d le o f th e field fo r th e p o o r, th e o x e n , o r th e b ir d s ; jn oth er v illa g e s , it is m o w n (o r u p ro o te d b y h a n d to a v o id c o n ta c t w ith th e s ic k le ), but alw ays in a c c o r d a n c e w ith a sp e c ia l ritu a l. T h e ritu a l m u rd e r o f th e field m a y be enacted in th e sa c rifice o f an a n im a l w h ic h is b o th its e m b o d im e n t a n d its s u b s titu te .73 It m ay also h e p e rfo rm e d on th e la st sh e a f its e lf, trea te d lik e a s a c rific ia l a n im a l: in one tra d itio n (o b s e rv e d in c e n tra l K a b y lia b y Jean S e r v ie r ) , th e m a ste r o f th e field turns to fa c e th e e a st, la y s th e la st sh e a f on th e g r o u n d w ith its " h e a d to w a rd s th e east, as if it w e re an o x , a n d sim u la te s c u ttin g its th ro a t, le ttin g a h a n d fu l o f so il trick le from h is le ft h a n d in th e m id d le o f th e w o u n d to re p re sen t b le e d in g . F in a lly , in th e S ou m m am reg i n th e la st sh e a f m a y b e trea te d as if it w e re a d e a d m a n a n d be b u rie d in an e a s tw a rd -fa c in g g r a v e to th e a c c o m p a n im e n t o f p ra y e rs ( chahada ) an d ch a n ts an n ou n cin g its re s u rre c tio n ( e .g . " D i e , d ie , O fie ld , o u r m a ster c a n b r in g y o u back to life! ). E v e n w h e n w h a t se e m s to b e th e o rig in a l fo rm o f th e ritu a l h as d isa p p e a re d (as it has in G r e a t K a b y lia ) , it is still th e m a ster o f th e field w h o re a p s th e last sh e a f and b rin g s it b a c k to th e h o u se , w h e re it is h u n g fro m th e m a in b e a m . R e su rre c tio n can co m e o n ly th r o u g h re p e titio n o f th e p rim a l m a rria g e o f sk y a n d e a r t h : a n d fo r this reason th e h a rv e st rites r e a p p ly th e lo g ic o f th e ra in -m a k in g rite s a t a tim e w h en rain is n o t re q u ire d fo r its sp e c ific a lly te c h n ica l fu n c tio n (w h ic h is n e v e r a u to n o m iz e d ) and can o n ly se r v e th e p u rp o se o f r e v iv ify in g th e sa cre d stre n g th o f th e c o rn or th e field. T h u s th e w h o le a p p a ra tu s o f th e ra in -m a k in g rite s re a p p e a rs , w it h th e ch a ra cte rs (A n za r an d h is w ife G h o n ja , h e re p re s e n tin g rain an d th e s k y , a n d sh e th e y o u n g v irg in soil, th e b r id e , e tc .) an d th e o b je c ts (d o lls , b a n n e rs) wrh ic h fig u r e in it. S o m e tim e s one e ven fin d s th e m a rria g e b y a b d u c tio n o f th e h o e in g g a m e s.

T h e p lou gh in g cerem on y, another ritual in ten d ed to sa n ctio n th e u nion o f contraries, can n ot be fully und erstood u n less on e know s that th e period follow ing th e harvest, w ith its rites to en su re the perp etu ation o f th e fecu n d at ing principle, is a time o f separation, d evoted to the m anly v irtu es, the point of honour and co m b a ts .7 L a k h rif, an extra-ordinary period o f p len ty and rest, 4 which cannot be defined eith er as a labour period, lik e p lo u g h in g and harvesting, or as a p roduction p eriod, like w inter and sp rin g , is th e male tim e par ex cellen ce, w h en the group op en s up to the ou tsid e w orld and m ust confront outsiders, in feasts and in w ar, so as to knit alliances w h ich , like extra-ordinary m arriages, are far from exclu d in g ch allenge. L ik e th e grain set aside as seed corn, w hich w ill be kept in a state of separation , the y o u n g boy is sym bolically torn from the fem ale wr orld b y circu m cision , a cerem on y from w hich w om en are rigorously exclu d ed , the fu n ction o f w h ich is to co-op t the boy into the w orld o f m en by m eans o f an operation regarded as a second birth, a purely m ale ev en t th is tim e , on e w h ich , as th e sa y in g g o es, "m akes *nen . In on e variant of the ritual, th e new ly circu m cised b o y s are surrounded by tw o or three con centric circles o f m en seated on plough sh ares w ith their rifles in their h a n d s .75 T h e land itself is d ivested o f every trace of life as the trees are strip p ed , th e last fruit p ick ed , and any rem aining veg eta tio n uprooted from th e fields and gard en s. T h e state o f separation en d s, for the natural w orld, w ith aw djeb , the solem n inauguration o f the p lo u g h in g , w hich ce le


G en erative schemes an d p ra ctica l logic

brates the m arriage of the sky and the earth, the p lough sh are and the furrow b y the collectiv e en actm en t o f a w h ole range o f m im etic practices, including hum an m arriage. T h e return to the ordinary order is also m arked b y the reassertion of the prim acy of th e stren gth en in g of kin-group u n ity over the p ursuit of distant alliances, w ith thimechret, th e sacrifice o f an ox at th e door of the year; its throat is cu t, its b lood is sprinkled on the grou n d , callin g dow n rain, and the consecrated m eat is shared ou t am ong all m em b ers o f th e co m m u n ity . This sacrifice, in ten d ed to sanction th e im p osition o f the hum an order on fecund but w ild nature (sym b o lized b y the jackal, " w h o has n o h o u s e and feeds on raw flesh - a z e g z a w - and b lo o d ), is a m eal o f alliance. In solem nly reaffirm ing th e b on d s of real or official b lood k inship w h ich u n ite all living m em bers of th e adhrum ( thaym ats) in and through th e original com m unity (th a d ja d ith ), that is, the relation to com m on ancestors, the source of all fecu n d ity, th is act of sacred com m en sality p roclaim s th e specifically human (i.e . m ale) order o f the oath of loyalty, against nostalgia for the struggle of all against all, again em b od ied in the jackal (or w om an , the source of division) and his sacrilegiou s cu n n in g (th ah raym ith ). L ike th e natural w orld , within w h o se d om esticated fertility lie the o n ly half-tam ed forces of a w ild nature (th ose em b od ied and exp loited b y th e old w itc h ), the social order sp ru ng from the oath w h ich tears the assem b ly o f m en from the disorder of individual interests rem ains haunted b y con scio u sly repressed nostalgia for the state of nature.
T h i s p h ilo s o p h y o f h is to ry , im p lic it in th e w h o le ritu a l c a le n d a r, is ex p resse d in a ta le : " T h e a n im a ls o n c e m e t to g e th e r in an assembly a n d swore n ot to p re y on one a n o th er a n y lo n g e r , a n d to liv e on e arth in p e a c e . T h e y c h o se the lio n to be th eir k i n g . . . d e v is e d la w s, a n d d e fin e d s a n c t io n s . . . T h e a n im a ls liv e d in p e a c e . . . L ife w o u ld h a v e b e e n fin e if J a c k a l, th e lio n s c o u n s e llo r, had n ot ru in ed e v e r y th in g . He w a s an o ld h a n d at e v e ry s o rt o f treachery . . . a n d h e re g re tte d th e fo rm e r state o f affairs; th e sm ell o f fresh meat and warm blood , w h ic h w e re n o w fo rb id d e n , u se d to se n d him in to a f r e n z y . . . H e d e c id e d to re s o rt to guile ( thahraymith ) and s e c re tly to in cite the c o u rtie rs to d is o b e y , on e a fte r a n o th e r - th e w o rk o f a d e m o n .76 In th e sam e tale, th e jackal eats th e a n im a ls h e is s u p p o s e d to b u r y . H e h a s th e ta sk of fe tc h in g w ater. A n o th e r fe a tu re h e sh a re s w ith w o m a n is th a t he is twisted: " t h e y p u t a ja c k a ls tail d o w n a rifle b a rr e l fo r fo r t y d a y s , a n d w h e n th e y to o k it o u t a g a in , it w a s ju s t as b e fo r e . M o re o v e r, lik e w o m a n , he divides, a n d d o e s so b y h is c u n n in g .

Rite m u st resolve b y m ean s o f an op eration socially approved and collec tively assu m ed - that is, in accordance w ith the lo g ic o f the taxonom y that g iv es rise to it - the specific con trad iction w h ich the prim al d ich otom y makes inevitable in con stitu tin g as separate and an tagon istic p rin cip les that m u st be reunited in order to en su re the reprodu ction o f the grou p . By a practical d enial, not an in d ivid u al, asocial on e like that d escrib ed by F reud , but a co llectiv e,

Reunion o f contraries and denial


ublic denial (as in all b elief), rite neutralizes the dangerou s forces con tained jn the w ild , u n tam ed , natural nature of w om an or the earth, as w ell as those that may be u n leash ed b y violation of its haram , tran sgression o f th e sacred lim it -77 E nacted in this w ay. collectiv ely and p u b licly , th ro u g h th e in ter mediary o f an authorized d elegate, in accordance w ith the arbitrarily pre scribed rules of a ritual, sacrilege is sym b olically d en ied in th e very act in which it is p erform ed. A ctin g as a delegated representative of the grou p , and also as a scapegoat d esignated to con fron t the cu rse of the earth, th e m an to whom it falls to op en th e p lou gh in g, "th e m an of the w e d d in g 78 as he is som etim es k now n, solem n ly reprodu ces, w ith h is p lough sh are b o m of a thunderbolt, th e m arriage o f sky and earth, th e archetypal fecun dation w hich is the con d ition of the su ccess of all hum an acts o f fecu n d a tio n .79 M ale and female, w et and dry, are in a sen se separated o n ly so as to be reu n ited , sin ce only their u n ion - in p lou gh in g or m arriage - can free them from th e negative properties (n egative on ly in the respect in q u e stio n , that of fecu n d ity ) that are associated w ith them so long as th ey rem ain in th e odd-num bered, imperfect state of sep a raten ess .8 T h e ploughshare, an in stru m en t wr 0 hich is forged in another reunion o f contraries, the tempering of iron, and has th e sam e nam e as the th u n d erb olt, thagursa, is in itself dry and sterile, like the seed it introduces in to th e earth: it is a source o f fertility on ly through th e v io len ce it inflicts. A s for the earth, left to itself it returns to sterilitv or the w ild fecundity of fallow land, w h ich , tw isted and m align ant like th e m aid en , cannot produce all its b en efits u nless it is forced and violated , and also raised and straightened. T h e rites of p lou g h in g ow e th eir com p lex ity to th e fact that th ey m ust not only sanction the u nion of op p osites but also facilitate that state o f th e u n ion of contraries in w h ich suprem acy tem porarily p asses to the fem ale p rin cip le: the seed tem porarily con d em ned to d ryn ess and sterility returns to life only through im m ersion in fem ale w e tn e s s ;81 b u t the future o f the grain (for the earth, like the ew e, m ay fail to b rin g forth - tham azgults, from zgel, to m isfire) depends on fem ale pow ers w hich the act o f fecu n d atio n has had to force. T h e door of th e y e a r is not the m o m en t w hen th e year b eg in s (it has no b egin ning, b ein g an everlasting b eg in n in g a n e w ); it is the m om en t w h en , like the h o u se, w hich m ust rem ain op en to the fecu n d atin g ligh t of th e su n , the year o p en s up to the m ale principle w h ich fecu n d ates and fills it. P lou ghin g and so w in g mark the cu lm in ation of the m ov em en t of the o u tsid e in to the m side, the em p ty in to th e full, th e dry in to th e w et, su n lig h t in to earthly shadow s, the fecu n d atin g male in to the fertile fem ale. M arriage rites and p lou gh in g rites ow e their n um erous sim ilarities to the fact that their objective intention is to san ction the u n io n of contraries w hich is th e co n d itio n of the resurrection of th e grain and th e reproduction of the

G en erative schemes and practical logic grou p . T h is d ialectic of death and resurrection is exp ressed in the saying (often u sed now adays in another sen se w h en sp eak ing o f gen eration conflicts): " F rom life they draw death, from death th ey draw lif e (a sch em e which reappears in th e riddle: " S o m eth in g dead ou t of so m eth in g liv in g - an egg. " S o m eth in g livin g ou t o f som eth in g d e a d - a ch ick ). T h e sacrifice and co llective eatin g of the ox is a m im etic representation of th e cycle of the grain, w hich m ust d ie so as to feed the w hole com m u n ity , and wrh ose resurrection is sym b olized by the solem n m eal b rin gin g together the w h o le com m un ity in a recalling of the dead. A s is show n by th e status of the ou tsider, th e man w h o cannot " c ite any ascendant and w ill not be " c ite d b y any descendant ( asker, to cite and also to resurrect) the grou p m em bersh ip that is affirmed by gathering together in com m en sality im p lies the p ow er to recall ascendants .and the certainty o f b ein g recalled b y d escen d an ts. T h e return of the dead, that is, resurrection, is called for by every asp ect o f sy m b o lism , particularly that of cook in g: thu s the broad bean, the m ale, dry seed par ex cellen ce, akin to the b on es, the refuge of th e sou l wr aitin g for resurrection, is served in the cou scous offered to the dead at th e start th e p lou gh in g (and also on the eve of feast d ays, especially th e eve o f A chu ra ) ; it is on e o f the articles thrown into the first furrow'; it is u sed in the b oiled d ish es alw ays served on such occasions: an alm ost transparent sym b ol of the dead (" I put a bean in the g r o u n d , runs a ridd le, "and it d id n t com e u p - a dead m a n ), w h ose food it is (" I saw the dead n ib b lin g b e a n s - I alm ost d ied ), it is predisposed to carry the sym b olism of death and resurrection as a d esiccated seed w h ich , after ritual burial in the dam p w om b of nature, sw ells and com es up again, m ore n um erous, in sp rin g (w h en it is the first sign o f plant life to appear ).82 A s acts o f procreation, that is, of re-creation, m arriage and p lou gh in g are b oth con ceived of as m ale acts o f op en in g and so w in g d estin ed to produce a fem ale action o f sw ellin g , and it is logical that ritual en a ctm en t should m ob ilize on the one hand everyth in g that op en s (keys, n a ils), ev eryth in g that is open (u n tied hair and g ird les, trailing garm en ts), everyth ing that is sw eet, so ft, and w hite (sugar, h o n ey , dates, m ilk ), and on the other hand everything that sw ells and rises (pancakes, fritters, seed s w hich sw ell w h ile cooking ufthyen), everyth in g that is m u ltip le and tigh tly packed (grains o f seksu, co u scou s, or berkukes, coarse cou scou s, pom egranate seed s, fig se ed s), every th in g that is fu ll (eg g s, n uts, alm ond s, p om egranates, fig s), the m ost effective objects and actions b ein g th ose wr hich com p oun d the various properties.


S u ch are the egg, the sym b ol par excellen ce of that w hich is full and pregnant w ith life, or th e pom egranate, w'hich is at on ce fu ll, sw o llen , and m ultip le, and of w hich on e riddle says, " Granary upon granary, the corn in sid e is red , and another: " N o bigger than a p ou n d in g-ston e, and its ch ild ren are more

Reunion o f contraries an d denial


than a h u n d r ed . A nd a w h ole aspect of the m ulti-fu n ctional action perform ed in p lough in g and marriage is su m m ed up in th e plough m an 's gestu re of breaking (felleq , to b urst, sp lit, d eflow er) a pom egranate or an egg on his ploughshare.
T he first tim e the yoke of oxen, the plough, and the seed corn set out for the fields
and the m om ent of the brides arrival in her new house are marked by the same rites. Th e girl is w elcom ed on the threshold by the "old w om an who holds the sieve of the traditions, containing fritters, eggs, wheat, beans, dates, nuts, dried figs,

pomegranates, etc. T h e bride breaks the eggs on the head of the mule that bears her,
wipes her hands on its mane, and throws the sieve behind her, and the children who have follow ed her scram ble (num ber = abundance) to pick up the titbits it contained. Similarly, the ploughing siev e w hich, depending on the local traditions, may be carried by various persons (the ploughm an, his w ife) at various tim es (in the morning, when the ploughm an leaves the house, or on his arrival in the fields, when he yokes the oxen, or at the tim e of the m idday m eal), always contains pancakes, dried beans, wheat, and a pomegranate, w hich the ploughm an throws into the furrows over the oxen and the plough, and which the children scram ble for (with countless variants, such as th e s e : the ploughm an breaks tw o pomegram ates, a few wheatcakes, and som e fritters on the ploughshare, and distributes the rest among those present; the offerings are buried in the first furrow'). Endless exam ples could be given of features com m on

to the tw o rituals: the bride (and her procession) are sprinkled with milk and she herself often sprinkles water and milk as she enters her new house, just as the mistress of the house sprinkles the plough with water or milk as it leaves for the fields. T he bride is presented with a key with which she strikes the lintel of the door (elsewhere a key is put under her clothes as she is being d ressed ); a key is put in the bag of seed corn and som etim es thrown into the furrow. T h e bridal procession is preceded by a woman bearing a lamp ( mesbah) which represents sexual union, with the clay, the oil and the flame of w hich it is com posed sym bolizing the constituent parts of the human being - the body, the dam p, fem ale, vegetative soul, nefs (a word som etim es used as a euphemism for the genitals, the seat of the "bad in stin cts - thinefsith) and the dry, male, subde soul, ruh (a euphem ism for the penis) ;M and on the first day of ploughing, a lamp is taken to the fields and kept alight until the first delim ited plot of land (thamtirth) has been sow n. T h e bride m ust not wear a girdle for seven days, and on the seventh day her girdle m ust be tied by the m other of many sons; the woman w ho carries the seed corn must avoid tyin g her girdle too tight and she m ust also wear a long dress which trails behind in a lucky train ( abrur). T h e brides hair must remain untied for the first seven days; the woman w ho carries the seed corn always lets her hair hang loose. A lso com m on to both rituals are: rifle shots (in even num bers), stone-throwing, and target-shooting, all of w hich frequently figure in the rain-making rites as sym bols o f male sprinkling w hich have the power of untying that which is tied .85 T he brides life continues in this way under the sign of fertility: on the seventh day, when she com es out of the house to go to the fountain for the first tim e, before drawing water sh e throws into the spring the grains of corn and the beans which had been placed under her bed; the first work she does is to sift the wheat, the noble task Par excellence.


G en erative schemes an d practica l logic

M akin g use o f indeterm inacy T h e propitiatory mise-en-scene through w h ich ritual action aim s at creating the co n d itio n s favourable to the su ccess o f th e m iracle of the resurrection of the grain by reprodu cing it sym b olically presen ts a certain n um ber of am b igu ities w h ich appear, for exam p le, w hen one con sid ers th e ritual of the last sheaf. In som e places the last sh eaf is "treated practically as a female personification of the field (" th e strength o f the ea r th , " th e bride ), on w hom m ale rain, som etim es personified as A n zar ,8 is called d ow n ; in others it is 7 a m ale (p h allic) sym bol o f " th e spirit o f the c o r n , d estined to return for a w hile to d ryn ess and sterility before inaugurating a new cy cle of life by p ouring dowr in rain on to th e parched earth. T h e sam e am bigu ities reappear n in th e p lou gh in g ritual, althou gh at first sigh t the acts ten d in g to favour the w o rld s return to w etn ess (and in particular the rites sp ecifically in tend ed to provoke rain, w h ich are p erform ed in identical form in sp rin g) can be co m b in ed q u ite logically w ith the action s in ten d ed to favour th e act of fecu n d ation , p lou gh in g or m arriage, as the im m ersion of the dry in the wet, celestial seed in th e fertile earth. In the p resen ce of rain, dry w ater, w'hich through its h eaven ly origin partakes of solar m alen ess, w hile on the other hand it partakes of w et, terrestrial fem in in ity , the sy stem of classification hesitates. T h e sam e is true o f tears, u rin e, and b lood , m uch u sed in the hom oeopathic strategies of the rain-m aking rites, and also sem en , w hich g iv e s n ew life to w om an as rain d oes to the earth, and of w h ich it m ay be said indifferently either that it sw ells or that it m akes sw ell, like beans or w heat in the cooking p o t .8 H e n c e the h esitation s o f m agical practice, w hich , far from being 8 troubled b y th ese am b igu ities, takes advantage of th e m .8 A fter system atically 9 catalogu in g the m u ltip le variants o f th e rain-m aking rites, L aou st (th e only an th rop ologist to have seen th e con trad iction clearly) infers th e fem ale nature o f thislith, th e betrothed (or thlonja, th e lad le), a d oll m ade o u t o f a ladle dressed like a b rid e, w hich is taken round in a p rocession w hile rain is called d o w n . T h e m eticu lou sn ess and rigour o f h is in ven tory provide u s w ith the m eans of graspin g the p rop erties w h ich m ake of th e " doll o f the rain-m aking rites, h oein g rites (it is " M a ta w h ose ab du ction is sim u la ted ), and harvest rites a b ein g w'hich is unclassifiab le from th e p oint of view of the very system o f classification o f w h ich its p rop erties are the p rod uct. First, there is a nam e, thislith, w h ich m ay w ell be no m ore than a eu p h em ism to d en o te a phallic sy m b ol, and w h ich , b y en cou ragin g the " fe m a le reading, orien ts th e ritual action s, sin ce b ein g m ale it sprinkles and b ein g fem ale it is sp rin kled . T h en there is a sh ap e, an am b igu ou s on e for the taxonom y itself, sin ce the ladle can be treated as a h ollow , liq u id -filled ob ject w h ich sprinkles, or as a h ollow ,

M ak in g use o f indeterm inacy

14 1

em pty object asking to be sprinkled. F in ally, there is a fu n ctio n , that o f the ladle itself, an im p lem en t m ade to sprinkle or to serve from the (fem ale) cooking-pot.
Here is a series of scattered, contradictory observations, w hich were collected in the hope of rem oving the am biguity of the ladle but only serve to confirm it. (1) On her w edding day the bride plunges the ladle into the pot: she w ill bear as many sons as she brings up pieces of m eat. (2) A proverb: W hatever there is in the cooking-pot, the ladle will bring it u p . (3) T h e ladle is hung on a piece of string so that it balances evenly, in front of a piece of wheatcake; if it dips tow ards the wheatcake, the hoped-for event w ill occur. (4) Of a man who cannot do anything w ith his hands: " H es like the ladle. (5) Y ou must never hit anyone w ith a ladle: either the im plem ent w ould break (there is only one in the house) or the person struck w ould break. (6) A man must never eat out of the ladle (to taste the soup, as the w om en d o ) : the consequence would be storm s and rain w hen he marries. (7) If a man scrapes the bottom of the pot with the ladle, it is bound to rain on his w edding day. (8) T o som eone using a tool clum sily: W ould you have eaten with the ladle ? - if one eats with the ladle one is liable to be cheated. T h is sort of taxonom ic hesitation is not u n co m m o n : it can be found in relation to m oonlight ( tiziri), the unlooked-for light, or em bers (times, a word which is taboo in the presence of men and is replaced by eu p h em ism s), a fem ale fire which consum es and is consum ed, like passion ( thinefsith, a dim inutive of nefs which we have already encountered), under the ashes, a crafty, treacherous fire which suggests female sexuality (as opposed to the flame, ahajuju, w hich purifies and sets alight); or even in relation to clearly attributed objects like the egg, the sym bol par excellence of fem ale fertility, which also partakes of the male through its colour (w hite) and its name ( thamellalts, plural ihimellalin, egg; 1mellalen, the w hite (m asculine plural), the testicles of the adult; ihimellalin, the w hite (fem inine plural), eggs, the childs testicles). But, because the fundam ental schem es are roughly congruent, the divergences never run, as they do here, into contradiction. The uncertainty of usage duplicates the uncertainty of significance: because the ritual use that can be made of an object depends on the m eanings it is given by the taxonom y, it is not surprising that when agents are dealing, as they are here, with objects w hose properties are a challenge to the system o f classification, they should put them to uses quite incom patible with som e o f the m eanings that they could have outside that relationship (especially in situations like drought, w hen the urgency of practical necessity requires agents to relax the dem ands of logic even further and to make use of anything that will serve). And because the m eaning of a sym bol is only ever fully determ ined in and through the actions it effects or undergoes (the raven, for exam ple, being less om inous when it flies from w est to east), the uncertainties of the interpretation sim ply reflect the uncertainties o f the use that the agents th em selves may make of a sym bol so overdeterm ined as to be indeterm inate even from the point of viewr of the schem es which determ ine it (the error in this case lying in wanting to im pose decision on the undecidable, in decreeing male or female a sym bol wr hich different practices treat indifferently as dry or w et, fecundating or fecundable). T h e cultural artefact, thisliih thought and fashioned for the specifically cultural needs of rite, is thus endowed w ith the plu rality o f aspects (different or even contradictory ones) w hich the objects of the world possess until the cultural system of classifications frees them from it through the arbitrary selection w hich it effects.

With this example we draw near the principle of practical logic, which functions r


G en erative schemes an d practica l logic

practically only by taking all sorts of liberties w ith the m ost elem entary principles of logical logic: thus the sam e sym bol can relate to realities that are opposed even frorri the standpoint of the axiom atics of the system - or rather, w e m ust include in that axiom atics the fact that the system does not exclude contradiction. If being able to write out the algebra of practical logics is not a p rio n unthinkable, it can be seen that the precondition of doing so w ould be the know ledge that logical logic, which only ever speaks of them negatively in the very operations through which it constitutes itself by denying them , is not prepared to describe them w ithout destroying them . It would sim ply be a question of constructing the m odel of this pa rtia lly integrated system of generative schem es w hich, p a rtia lly mobilized to deal with each particular situation, in each case produces, w ithout acceding to discourse and the logical verifiablity which it makes possible, a practical d efin ition of the situation and of the functions of the action - alm ost always m ultiple and overlapping - and, in accordance w ith a combina tive logic at once com plex and inexhaustible, generates the appropriate actions to fulfil these functions given the m eans available. M ore precisely, one only has to compare the diagrams corresponding to the different dom ains of practice - the agrarian year, cooking, the w om en s work, the day - to see that these different series spring from different schem es: the oppositions betw een the wr and the dry, the cold and the hot, et and the full and the em pty, in the case o f the agrarian year; betw een the w et and the dry (in the form of the boiled and the roast, tw o form s o f the cooked), the bland and the spiced, in the case of cooking; betw een the dark and the light, the cold and the hot, the inside (or the closed) and the outside in the case of the day; betw een the fem ale and the male, the tender (green) and the hard (dry), in the case of the cycle of life. T h en one w ould only have to add other structured universes, such as the space inside the house or the parts of body, to see other principles at w'ork: above and below, east and w est, etc. T h ese different schem es are at once partially independent and more or less closely interconnected: thus the opposition dry/w et (or drying/soaking) can be used to generate practices or sym bols that cannot be produced directly from the opposition inside/outside or darkness/light, and vice versa; on the other hand, there is a direct passage from hot/cold to dry/w et, whereas hot/cold is connected with inside/outside only through the intermediary of light/darkness, and the path to oppositions like standing up/lying dow n, em p ty/fu ll, or above/below is even longer. In other w ords, each of the oppositions constituting the system can be linked with all the others, but along paths o f varying length (w hich may or may not be reversible), i.e. at the end of a series of equivalences which progressively em pty the relationship of its content (e .g . w aking/sleeping ~ outside/inside ~ standing u p /lyin g down ~ east/w est ~ light/darkness ~ hot/cold ^ sp iced/bland); m oreover, each opposition can be linked with several others in different respects by relations of differing intensity and m eaning (e.g . spiced/bland can be directly related to m ale/fem ale and less directly to strong/w eak or em p ty/fu ll, through the intermediary, in the latter case, of m ale/fem ale and dry/w et, them selves interconnected). It follow s that all the opposi tions do not have the same role in the system ; it is possible to distinguish secondary oppositions w hich specify the principal oppositions in a particular respect and have a low yield on account of this (yellow /green, a sim ple specification of d ry/w et), and central oppositions (such as m ale/fem ale or dry/w et) strongly interconnected w ith all the others by logically very diverse relations w hich constitute arbitrary cultural necessity (e .g . the relations betw een fem ale/m ale and inside/outside or left/right, tw isted/straight, below /ab ove). G iven that, in practice, no more than one particular sector of the system of schem es is m obilized at any one tim e (w ithout all the connections with the other oppositions ever being entirely severed) and that the

T he habitus an d homologies
d iffe r e n t


schem es m obilized in different situations are partially autonom ous and rtially linked w ith all the others, it is natural that all the products of the application of th e s e schem es, both individual rites and series of ritual actions such as the rites 0f p a s s a g e , should be partially congruent and should appear as roughly, that is, p ra c tic a lly , equivalent to anyone possessing practical m astery of the system of
sc h e m e s .9 0

T h e habitus an d homologies
T he presence of sym b olically identical ob jects or acts in the rituals associated

with such d ifferen t ev en ts in the existen ce of m an and th e land as funerals, ploughing, h arvestin g, circu m cision , or m arriage can n ot and n eed not be
exp lain ed in any other w ay. T h e partial co in cid en ce o f th e sign ification s w hich the practical taxon om ies con fer on th ese ev en ts is m atched b y the partial

coincidence o f the ritual acts and sy m b o ls, w h ose p o ly sem y is perfectly appropriate to the requ irem en ts o f essen tially " m u lti-fu n ctio n a l p ractices. An agent d oes not need sy m b o lic m astery o f the co n cep ts of sw elling (or durable sw elling) and resurrection to associate the d ish called ufthyen, a m ixture of w heat and b ean s w h ich sw ells w h en b o iled , w ith the cerem o n ies of marriage, p lo u g h in g , or burial, through the interm ediary o f w hat is there subordinate to th e " resu rrectio n fu n ction ; or to rule out eatin g th is dish ("because the gu m w ou ld stay s w o lle n ) w hen teeth are b ein g cu t (in favour of thibujajin, a sort o f pancake w h ich as it cook s form s b u b b les w h ich burst at once) and on the occasion of circu m cision , w hich as a rite o f purification and virilization, that is to say, of breaking w ith th e fem ale wr orld, is seen syncretically as associated w ith the dry, fire, and v io len ce, g iv e s a pro m inent place to target-sh ootin g, and is accom pan ied b y roast m eat. B ut th is does not p revent the d ish b ein g associated w ith targ et-sh o o tin g in at least one variant o f the ritual of a m u lti-fu n ction al cerem on y like m arriage, in w hich " in te n tio n s of virilization (o p en in g ) and fertilization (sw ellin g ) are com b ined. A pp lication of the sam e sch em es in fields as different as the " ca len d a rs of co ok in g or of the w o m e n s tasks, the series of m om en ts in th e day or th e cycle of life, is th e prin cip le u n d erly in g the h o m o lo g ies w h ich analysis discovers in practices and w orks. T h u s , to exp lain the essen tial features of the series o f ordinary and extraordinary d ish es wr ich , on a ccou n t o f th e h participation-rite fu n ctio n conferred on eatin g ,91 are associated w ith the different p eriods of th e agrarian year (see fig.

4) on e on ly has to g o to th e

op position b etw een tw o classes of food and tw o classes o f operations: on one side there are the dry food s (cereals (w heat and b arley), dried vegetab les (beans, peas, ch ick peas, len tils, e t c .) , dried m eat) w h ich are boiled in w a ter, unspiced, in the cooking-pot, in doors, or (w h ich am ou n ts to the sam e th in g )


T he habitus a n d homologies


gteam ed, or raised w ith leaven (fritters), op eration s w hich all m ake th e food ##//; and on th e other sid e there are th e raw, green , or fresh fo o d s (three m eanings of th e w ord a z e g z a w , associated w ith sp rin g and u nripe corn) w hich are eaten r a w (as ten d s to b e th e case in sp rin g) an d /or boiled or grilled (on the griddle, bufrah) and h ea v ily sp iced (as in su m m er ).92 A nd th e variations 0bServed are fu lly accoun ted for w hen on e has n oted that the first com b in ation is characteristic of late au tu m n and w in ter, the period w h en the dry is m oistened and the fertilized earth and w om an are ex p ected to s w e ll, w hereas the second is associated w ith sp rin g, a tran sitional season, and su m m er, the period of d esiccation o f th e w et and separation from the fem ale, w hen evervthing that has d ev elo p ed in w ard ly, like grains of w heat and beans (ufthyen) m u st op en out and ripen in th e ligh t o f d a y .9 3
Without entering into a description - strictly speaking, an interm inable one, ow ing to the innum erable variants - o f the feast-day dishes w hich in a sense concentrate the characteristic properties o f the cooking associated w ith the various periods, it is nonetheless possible briefly to indicate their pertinent features, bearing in mind that the dishes differ not so m uch in their ingredients as in the processes applied to them , which strictly define cooking (so that certain " polysem ous item s reappear at different times of the year and in very different rites: for exam ple w heat, of course, but also broad beans, which figure in the meals of p loughing tim e, the first day of January, harvest tim e, funerals, e tc .). On ploughing days, the meal eaten outside in the fields is, as always, m ore m ale, i.e. " d rier, than the food of autum n and winter as a w hole, which is boiled or steam ed, like th e food eaten at the tim e of w eddings or burials; but the meal taken in the evening after the first days ploughing always consists of boiled cereals, with num erous variants, or a coarse-grained, unspiced couscous, a dish explicidy excluded from the m eal of the first day of spring (" because the ants would multiply like the grains of sem o lin a ) or ufthyen, made from grains of wheat and beans cooked in wr ater or steam , or abisar, a sort of thick bean puree, the food o f the dead and of resurrection (these dish es are always associated w ith m anv-seeded fruit, pomegranates, figs, grapes, n u ts, or sw eet foods, honey, dates, e tc ., sym bols of "easiness). W heatcake, the dry, male food par excellence, m ust not be cooked during the first three days of p lo u g h in g ; it is even said that if roast meat were eaten (the meat of the thimechretox is eaten b oiled ), the oxen would before long be injured in the neck. The couscous (berkukes) eaten on the first day of ennayer contains poultry, typically female (am ong other reasons because the fowl are the w om en s personal property). But it is no doubt on the eve of th is day (som etim es called the "old w o m e n of ennayer) that the schem e generating w inter food, that of m oistening the dry, shows through m ost clearly: on that day, people must eat nothing but boiled, dry grains (som etim es with fritters), and m ust eat their fill; they must not eat m eat ("so as not to break the b o n e s) or dates (" so as not to expose the sto n e s). T h e meal eaten on the first day of ennayer (A chura) is very similar to that of the first day of ploughing: it is always substantial (being an inaugural rite) and consists of abisar or berkukes and fitte r s , or boiled cereal. From the first day of spring, as well as the traditional elem ents of fertility-giving food (couscous cooked in the steam o f adhris, thapsia, which causes sw elling, hard-boiled eg g s, which m ust be eaten to satiety), the diet includes grilled cereals (w hich the children eat outdoors), raw, green produce (beans and other


G en erative schemes an d practical logic

vegetables) and milk (warmed or cooked). W ith the return of a za l, dry pancakes dipped in hot milk, and sem olina with butter, announce the dry, male food of sum m er. The com bination characterizing the feast-day m eals of the dry season is wheatcake and grilled meat with or w ithout couscous (depending mainly on whether it is eaten in the fields or in the h o u se ); more ordinary m eals consist of wheatcake dipped in oi7 (a dry, male food contrasting w ith wet, fem ale butter) and dried figs and also, f0r indoor meals, grilled fresh vegetables.

T h e sam e structure reappears in the " calendar of the w o m en s w ork, w hich co m p lem en ts th e farm ing "calendar to w h ich it is directly subordinated (see fig. 5) . T h e action h o m ologou s w ith m arriage and p lo u g h in g , th e assem bly of th e loom , w hose tw o u prights and tw o beam s - called the "sky b ea m and th e "earth b e a m , or th e east beam an d w est beam - d elim it the weaving just as the furrow d elim its the field, takes place in autum n (" th e figs and blackberries are ripe, and w e have no b la n k e ts): passers-by are offered figs, d a tes, and alm on d s, and a m eal of m o ist, sw ellin g food ( tighrifin, fritters) is e a te n .9 Like p lou gh in g, w eavin g is a m arriage of sky and earth, and th e cloth 4 is the product o f a birth: thanslith, th e triangular m otif w ith w h ich w eaving starts, is a sym b ol o f fecu n d ity (from th e root
n sl,

to b egin , to en gen d er);

unm arried girls m u st not sit astride th e thread, m arried w o m en m ay; the cro ssin g o f the thread is called ruh, th e so u l .9 W eaving is th e w in te r 5 a ctivity, w'hich en d s w ith the w et season, in M ay. Just as the last sh eaf is often cut b y hand, by the m aster o f the field, so it falls to the m istress of the house to unfasten the w o v en clo th , w ithou t th e u se o f iron and after sprinkling it w ith w ater, as is d on e to th e dead. Care is taken not to perform this d angerou s operation in the presence of a m an: every birth b ein g a rebirth, the law' o f th e eq u ivalen ce o f lives, a " s o u l for a " s o u l, is capable of ex a ctin g th e death o f a hum an b ein g as the price o f the birth of the c lo th .9 6 W h en th e cloth has been rem oved , the loom is d ism antled and p ut awr for ay the d uration of "the death o f the fie ld .
W ool and potter)', natural products, have much the same cycle. Pottery, being derived from the earth, partakes of the life of the field ; the clay is collected in autumn, but it is never worked in that season, nor in w inter, when the earth is pregnant, but in spring. T h e unfired (azegzaw ) pottery dries slowly in the sun (w et-dry) w hile the ears o f corn are ripening (the wet-dry p eriod). S o long as the earth bears the ears, it cannot be baked; it is only after the harvest, when the earth is bare and no longer producing, and fire is no longer liable to dry up the ears (the drv-dry period) that baking can be carried out, in the open air (dry-dry).

T h e w ool, w h ich is sheared at the en d of the cold period, is w ashed w ith soap and w ater, at the m om en t w h en everyth in g is o p en in g and sw ellin g ( thafsuth) and b oiled in a pot into w hich so m e w heat and beans ( ufthyen) have b een throwr , so that the flocks o f w ool w ill sw ell like the ears of corn in the n

^ p o rtin g

[.5 . The


of the w o m e n s a c tiv itie s

1 4 7


G en erative schemes an d practical logic

fields. It dries at th e sam e tim e as the p ottery, in the w et-d ry period. It is carded w ith in stru m ents as typically " sh a r p and m ale as the carding-com b, the sym b ol of separation and m ale rou gh n ess, a p rod uct o f the w ork of the sm ith w h ich is u sed in the virilization rites and in the p rophylactic rites in tend ed to ward off the diseases associated w ith ev en in g and the w e t .9 7 T h e structure of the day (w hich integrates the five M oslem prayers very naturally) con stitu tes another, particularly leg ib le, product o f the applica tion o f the sam e stru cturin g p rin cip les. T h e w et-season day is nocturnal even in its diurnal p a rt: b ecau se the flock goes out and returns on ly on ce in the course of th is day, it appears as an in com p lete form o f the dry-season dav (see fig.

6).9 O n the day called "the return of a z a l , the threshold o f the 8

dry season , w hen the m istress of the house brings the fire out into the courtyard and ligh ts the kanun in thim etbakth, there is an abrupt changeover to a m ore com p lex rh ythm , defined by the d ou b le departure and return of the f l o c k s t h e y g o out for the first tim e at daw n and com e back as soon as the heat b ecom es b u rd en som e, that is, around eddoha\ the seco n d departure co in cid es w ith the m idday prayer, eddohor, and they return at nightfall. Just as the year runs from au tu m n tow ards su m m er, m o v in g from w est to east, so th e day (as) runs from th e ev en in g tow ards m idd ay: although the w hole system is organized in accordance wT the perfect cycle of an eternal ith recurrence - even in g and au tu m n , old age and d eath, b ein g also the locu s of procreation and sow in g - tim e is n on eth eless orien ted tow ards the culm inating p oint represented b y m idd ay, su m m er, or m ature age (see fig.

7). N ig h t, in

its darkest part, the " s h a d o w s of " th e m id d le o f the n ig h t, w hich brings m en , w o m en , and children togeth er in the m ost secret part o f the h ou se, close to the anim als, in the closed , d am p, cold place o f sexual relations, a place associated w ith death and the grave, is op p o sed to the d ay, and more precisely to its su m m it, a z a l, the m om ent w hen the ligh t and heat o f the sun at its zen ith are at their stron gest. T h e link b etw een n ight and d eath, which is underscored b y nocturnal so u n d s like the h ow lin g of d ogs and the grating o f the sleep ers teeth , sim ilar to that of the d yin g , is m arked in all th e taboos o f the even in g: the p ractices forb id d en - b ath ing, or even w and erin g round stretches of w ater, especially stagnant, black, m u d d y , stin k in g wr ater, looking in m irrors, an ointin g th e hair, to u ch in g ashes - w ould have the effect of in a sen se d ou b lin g the m alignancy o f th e nocturnal darkness through contact w ith su b stan ces wT hich are all en d ow ed wT the sam e properties (and are in ith som e cases interchangeable - the hair, m irrors, black wr aters). T h e m orn in g is a m om en t o f transition and rupture, a threshold. Dawr is n a stru ggle b etw een day and n igh t: it is d uring the hours b efore daybreak, as the reign o f night com es to an en d , that the rites of e x p u lsio n and purification

Dry s e a s o n
5 a.m . el fjar
flo c k g o e s o u t m en go o u t (to fie ld s a n d m a r k e t)

a .m .

7 a.m. 8 a.m .

9 a.m.
eddoha i o a.m.
- flo c k r e t u r n s i s t t i m e lm e k li (m e a l) ^ azal re st * ( le m q il) * flo c k g o e s o u t m e n go o u t ( to f ie ld s a n d m a r k e t)

thanalth (snack)

1 p .m . flo c k g o e s o u t 2 n d t i m e . cddohor A


pm .
P-m .

d e c lin e o f a za l t h a n a l t h (s n a c k )

4 p .m .

flo c k


el aser

tim e spent resting outdoors I 1 tim e spent working (outdoors)

Fig. 6. Daily rhythms in summer and winter

1 5 0

ansaf ass (middle ot the day)

F ig . 7. S tru c tu re

of the dry-scason


T h e habitus an d homologies perform ed, and the break is m ade w ith darkness, ev il, and d eath, so that 0ne m ay "be in the m orn in g , i.e . op en to th e lig h t, the g o o d , and th e luck that are associated w ith it (th is is, for exam p le, the m o m en t w h en the semolina left overnight near the head o f a jealous baby, or on e afflicted by transferred ev il - aqlab - is p ou red over h im ). E very m orn in g is a birth. jylorning is the tim e for g o in g o u t, th e opening o f the day and an o p en in g up to light (fa ta h , to o p en , b lo sso m , is sy n o n y m o u s w ith sebah} to be in the m orning). It is an o p en in g first in the sen se that th is is the m o m en t w h en the day is born ( thallalith w a ss, the birth o f th e d a y ), w h en " th e ey e of the light {th it antafath) o p en s an d th e h o u se and th e village, w h ich had clo sed in upon th em selv es for th e n ig h t, pour out their m en and their flocks into the fields. A n o p en in g too in the sen se of " b e g in n in g : m o rn in g is an inaugural m om en t w h ich m en w orth y of the nam e feel it right to b e present at and take part in ( esbah, to be p resen t, to b e alive in th e m o rn in g ). " M orn in g, it is said, " m ean s fa c ility . T o get u p early is to place on iself under favourable au spices ( leftah, o p en in g , good a u gu ry). T h e early riser is safe from the en cou n ters w h ich b rin g m isfortu n e; w hereas the m an w h o is last to set ou t on the road can have n o other com p an ion than th e on e-eyed man (associated, like th e b lin d , w ith n igh t) w h o w aits for broad d ayligh t before setting o u t, or th e lam e m an w h o lags b eh in d . T o rise at cockcrow is to put ones days in the p rotection o f th e an gels of th e m o rn in g and to d o them honour; it is, so to speak, to put on eself in a state o f grace, to act in such a way that " th e an gels d ecid e in o n e s s te a d . In fact the m orn in g, an inaugural tim e b lessed by th e return of ligh t and life, is the best m o m en t for making d ecisio n s and u n d ertak in g action : the inauguration rites w h ich mark the days o f transition are p erform ed at daybreak, w h eth er it be the w aking of the cattle at the w in ter so ls tic e , the renew al rites on the first day o f the year (ennayer), th e sh ep h e rd s departure to gather p lants on the first day of spring, the flock s g o in g ou t on the return o f a z a l, etc. T h e m orn ing, like the h o m o lo g o u s period in th e agrarian year or hum an life, sp rin g or ch ild h o o d , w o u ld be en tirely favourable - sin ce it m arks th e victory of ligh t, life, and th e future over n ig h t, d eath, and the past - d id not its p osition confer on it th e fearful pow er to d eterm in e th e future to w h ich it b elon gs and w h ich it g overn s as th e inaugural term of the s e r ie s :100 thou gh intrinsically b en eficent, it is frau ght w ith th e danger o f m isfortu n e, inasm uch as it can d ecid e, for good or for ill, th e fate of the day. W e m ust take a closer look at th is lo g ic , that of m agic, w h ich has perhaps never b een fully und erstood , b ecau se it is all too easily half u nd ersto o d on th e basis o f the quasi-m agical exp erien ce o f th e wr orld w h ich , u nd er th e effect o f em o tio n , for exam p le, im p o ses itself even on th ose w h ose m aterial co n d itio n s of ex isten ce,


G en erative schemes an d practica l logic

and an in stitu tion al en viron m en t ten d in g to discourage it, best p rotect thein against th is " regression W hen th e w orld is seen as " a fatal system

101 whose

startin g-p oin t is its cau se, w hat h app en s in the w orld and w hat people do govern w hat w ill happen and w hat w ill be d o n e. T h e future is already inscribed in the p resen t in th e form of o m e n s .102 M en m ust d eciph er these w arnings, not in order to su b m it to th em as a d estin y (like the em otion which accepts th e future an n ou n ced in th e p resen t) but in order to be able, if n ecessary, to ch an ge th em : this is on ly an apparent con trad iction , since it is in the nam e o f th e h yp o th esis o f the fatal system that a m an w ill try to remake the future an n ou n ced in the p resen t by m aking a n ew present. M agic is fought w ith m agic: th e m agical p oten cy o f the om en -p resen t is fought w ith conduct aim ing to ch an ge th e startin g-p oin t, in th e nam e of the b elief, w hich was the w h ole stren gth o f th e o m en , that th e sy ste m s starting-point is its cause.
M orning is the time w hen everything becom es a sign announcing good or ill to come. A man who m eets som eone carrying milk sees a good om en in the encounter; a man who hears the shouts of a quarrel w hile he is still in bed draws a bad om en from them. Men anxiously watch for the signs (esbuh, the first encounter of the morning, portending good or ill) through w hich evil forces may announce their im m inence, and an effort is made to exorcize their effect: a man w ho m eets at dawn a blacksmith, a lame man, a one-eyed m an, a wom an w ith an em pty goatskin bottle, or a black cat must "remake his m orn in g, return to the night by crossing the threshold in the opposite direction, sleep again, and remake his "going o u t. T h e w hole day (and som etim es the wT hole year or a m a n s w hole life, w hen it is the m orning of an inaugural day) hangs on his know ing how to defeat the malignant tricks of chance. T h e magical potency of words and things works w ith particular intensity here, and it is more than ever necessary to use the euphem ism s which replace baleful words: of all the words tabooed, the most dreadful are those expressing term inal acts or operations shutting, extinguishing, leaving, spreading - w hich m ight invoke an interruption, an untim ely destruction, em ptiness (e.g . "T here are no dried figs left in the sto re, or the mere word "n o th in g ) or sterility.103

A zaly and in particular thalmasth u z a l, the m id d le of a z a l, the m o m en t when the su n is at its zen ith , n oon , th e m om en t w h en "azal is at its h o tte s t (ihma uzal), broad d ayligh t, is op p osed b oth to n ight and to m orning, first light, the n octurnal part o f the d a y .104H om o lo g o u s w ith th e h ottest, driest, brightest tim e o f th e year, it is th e day o f the d aytim e, th e dry of the dry, in a sen se bringing the characteristic properties o f th e dry season to th eir fu llest exp ression . It is the m ale tim e par excellen ce, th e m om en t w hen the m ark ets, paths, an d /or fields are full (o f m e n ), w h en the m en are outdoors at th eir m en s tasks .105 E ven the sleep of a z a l ( lam qil) is the ideal lim it of m ale rest, just as the fields are the lim it o f the habitual places for sleep , such as th e threshing floor, the driest and m ost m ascu lin e sp ot in the space close to th e h o u se, where the m en often sleep ; one can see w hy a z a l, w h ich in itself partakes o f the

T he habitus an d homologies


dry a n d the sterile, sh ou ld be stron gly associated w ith the d esert (lakhla) of the harvested field. Eddohor, th e secon d prayer, roughly coin cid es w ith the en d of the a z a l rest: this is the start of " th e d eclin e o f a z a l , the en d o f th e fiercest heat (a zg h a l), when for th e seco n d tim e the flocks set out for the fields and th e m en go 0ff to w ork. W ith the third prayer, eVasar, a z a l en d s and thameddith (or thadugwalh) b e g in s : n ow " the m arkets have em p tied an d n ow too the taboos of the ev en in g take effect. T h e d eclin e of th e sun ( agh aluy itij), w h ich " slop es to the w e s t , is in a sen se the paradigm of all form s o f d eclin e, in particular old age and all kind s of political d ecad en ce ( yeghli itij-is, his su n has fallen) or physical decay (yegh li Iwerq-is): to g o w estw ard , tow ards the se ttin g sun (ghereb, as op p o sed to cherraq, to go tow ards the risin g su n ), is to go tow ards darkness, n ight, d eath, like a h ouse w h ose w estw ard -facin g door can o n ly receive sh adow s. Pursuing the analysis o f the different fields o f application of the system of generative sch em es, w e could b uild up a sort of sy n o p tic diagram of the cycle o f life as stru ctured by the rites of passage: birth (w ith the practices associated w ith th e cu ttin g o f th e um b ilical cord b y the qabla and th e rites intended to p rotect the ch ild against evil s p e lls ) ; n am e-g iv in g on the third or seven th day; the first tim e th e m oth er and ch ild co m e out of th e h ou se, on the fortieth day (w ith , in the m ean tim e, all th e rites of "the breaking of the link w ith the m o n th , thuksa an-tsucherka w a y u r , on th e third, sev en th , fourteenth, th irtieth , and fortieth d ays, to "break the association w ith the month - to drive ou t evil and also to separate the ch ild p rogressively from the fem ale wo rld ); the "first v en tu r es (in to th e courtyard, away from the fam ily); the first haircut, a purificatory ritual o ften associated w ith the first visit to th e m arket; circu m cision , m arriage, and burial. T h e cycle of th e rites of passage is in fact subordinated to th e agrarian calendar w h ich , as w e have seen, is itself n o th in g other than a su ccession o f rites o f passage.

This is primarily because in a number of cases the rites of passage are m or less ore
ex p lic itly associated with particular moments in the year, by virtue of the homology betw een them a n d the moment in question; thus, for example, a birth is auspicious *f it c o m e s at lahlal (or in the morning), ill omened if it comes at husum or in sla (or th e afternoon betw een eVasar and el maghreb); early afternoon is the best time for

circum cision, but not w inter, and eVazla gennayer is the propitious m om ent for the
first haircut; autum n and spring (after eVazla) are the right tim es for marriage, which

ruled out on the last day of the year, at husum and nisan, and in May and June. The springtim e rites (and in particular those of the first day of spring and the return f azal) set to work a sym bolism which applies as m uch to the unripe corn, s till,e bound, fettered, k notted (igan), as to the lim bs of the baby w hich cannot yet walk ( aqnan lfadnis) and remains in a sense attached to the earth .106 T h o se rites of passage that are not linked to a particular period of the year always ow e som e of their properties


1 54

G en erative schemes and practica l logic

to the ritual characteristics of the period in w hich they are perform ed, a fact which explains the essential features o f the variants observed. For exam ple, the beneficent water of ntsan, a necessary com ponent in the rites specific to that period (like the first milk in spring, the ears o f the last sheaf in sum m er, e tc .), also appears as a supplem entary elem ent in the rites of passage w hich happen to take place at that tim e.

B u t, at a d eep er level, it is the w h ole o f hum an ex isten ce that, b ein g the p rod u ct o f th e sam e system of sch e m e s, is organized in a m anner hom ologous to that o f th e agrarian year and the other great tem poral " series Thus procreation (a k h la q y creation) is very clearly associated w ith ev e n in g , autumn, and the d am p , nocturnal part of the h ouse. Sim ilarly, gesta tio n corresponds to th e u nd ergrou nd life of th e grain, i.e . th e " n ig h ts ( l y a l i ) : the taboos of p regnancy (o f fecu n d ity) are th e taboos o f ev e n in g and death (look in g in a m irror at n igh tfall, e tc .); th e pregnant w om an , like the earth sw ollen in spring, partakes o f the w orld o f the d ead (ju f, w h ich d en o tes the belly o f th e pregnant w om an , also m eans north, the h om ologu e of n igh t and w in ter). G estation, like germ in ation , is id en tified w ith cook in g in th e p o t: after ch ild b irth the w om an is served th e b oiled food of w in ter, of the dead , and of ploughing, in particular abisar (th e food of the dead and o f fun erals) w h ich , excep t on th is occasion , is n ever eaten b y w o m en , coarse-grained co u sco u s b oiled in water ( a b a zin ), pancakes, fritters, and eg g s. C hildb irth is associated w ith the " o p en in g o f th e en d of w in ter, and all th e taboos on clo sin g that are observed at that tim e reappear here (crossin g th e legs, fo ld in g th e arms, clasping th e hands togeth er, w earing b racelets or rin g s). T h e hom ology betw een sp rin g, ch ild h o o d , and m orn ing, inaugural p eriods o f uncertainty and exp ectation , m an ifests itself in , a m on g other th in g s, the abundance of p rogn ostication rites w h ich are practised th en . A lth o u g h d escrib ed as an untim ely d estru ction (a n a d a m ), the harvest is not a death w ith o u t issue ( m a'dum, the bachelor, w h o d ies ch ild le ss), and m agic, w h ich allow s the profits of contradictory action s to be co m p ou n d ed w ith ou t co n trad iction , is expected to bring ab out resurrection in and through a n ew act of fecu n d a tio n . Sim ilarly, old age, w h ich faces the w e st, the settin g su n , n ight and d eath, the dark direction par ex cellen ce, is at the sam e tim e turned tow ards the east of resurrection in a new b irth. T h e cycle en d s in death, that is, th e w est, only for the ou tsid er (aghrib), the m an of the w est (elgharh) and o f exile (elghorba), hence w ith o u t issu e (anger). H is grave is o ften u s e d - a s an exem plary realization of u tter o b liv io n and annihilation - in th e rites for the expulsion of evil: in a u niverse in w h ich a m an s social ex isten ce requires that he be linked to h is ancestors through h is ascen dan ts and b e " c ite d and "resur re c te d (asker) b y h is d escen d an ts, the death o f th e o u tsid er is the only absolute form of d ea th .107

T he habitus an d homologies

I 55

q'he different generations occupy different positions in th is cycle, diametrically 0osed for successive generations, those of father and son (since one conceives when 0ther is conceived, and enters old age w hen the other is in ch ild h ood ), and dentical for alternate generations, those of grandfather and grandson (see fig. 8). Such 1 the logic w hich, making of birth a rebirth, leads the father w henever possible to ^ve his first-born son the name o f his own father (asker: to name and to resurrect). And the fields go through a perfectly analogous cycle, that of tw o-year rotation: just as the cycle o f generation is closed by A s death and resurrection, i.e . w hen B conceives q so the cycle of the field is closed w hen field A, w hich has lain fallow , awaiting its r e s u r r e c t i o n , for the duration of the life of the fecundated field B , is "raised from the dead by ploughing and sow ing, i.e . w hen field B is laid fallow.

Bs bi rth

s .

vV .O '

A s b irth

Fig. 8. The cycle of reproduction

It is n o accid en t that the d ifficulties o f the G reek and C hinese ex eg etes b eg in when th ey try to con stru ct and su p erim p ose series (in the sen se of asym m etrical, tran sitive, " c o n n e c te d relation ship s w h ich R ussell g iv es the word in his Introduction to M ath em atical Philosophy)

:108 w h en one tries to push 9),

the su p erim p osition of the various series b eyon d a certain d egree o f refine m ent, b eh in d the fun dam en tal h o m ologies (b rou gh t together in fig. difficulties b eg in to m u ltip ly system atically, d em on stratin g that true rigour does not lie in an analysis w h ich tries to p u sh th e sy stem b eyon d its lim its, by a b u sin g the p ow ers o f th e d iscou rse w h ich g iv e s v o ice to the silen ces of


G enerative schemes and practica l logic

practice and b y ex p loitin g th e m agic o f the w ritin g w hich tears practice and discou rse o u t o f the flow' o f tim e .109 It is only w hen practical m etaphor, schem e-tran sfer effected on the h ith er sid e of d iscou rse, b eco m es metaphor or analogy that it is p ossib le, for exam p le, to w ond er like Plato w hether "it was the earth that im itated w om an in b ecom in g pregnant and b rin gin g a being in to the w orld , or w om an that im itated the e a r th (.Menexenus,


Ign oran ce o f the objective truth of practice as learned ignorance is the source o f in nu m erab le theoretical errors, not least the error from which W estern p h ilosop h y originated (and w hich an thropological scien ce endlessly reprodu ces ).110 R ites and m yth s w h ich w ere " acted o u t in th e m ode of belief and fulfilled a practical fu n ction as collective in stru m ents of sy m b o lic action on the natural w orld and above all on th e grou p , receive from learned reflection a fu n ctio n w hich is not their owr b ut that w hich th ey have for n scholars. T h e slow evolu tion "from religion to p h ilo so p h y , as Cornford and the C am bridge school p ut it, i.e . from analogy as a practical schem e o f ritual action to an alogy as an ob ject o f reflection and a rational m eth o d o f thou ght, is correlative w ith a transform ation o f the fu n ction w hich the grou p s concerned confer on m yth and rite in their p ractice .111 M yth ten ds to cease to have any fun ction oth er than the one it receives in the relations o f co m p etition betw een the literate scholars w h o question and interpret its letter by reference to the q u estion s and readings of past and contem porary interpreters: on ly then does it becom e ex p licitly w hat it alw ays w as, b ut on ly im p licitly or practically so, i.e . a sy stem o f solu tio n s to cosm ological or anthropological prob lem s w hich scholarly reflection thinks it finds in them b u t w hich it in fact creates ex nihilo by a mistaken reading that is im p lied in any reading ignorant o f its objective truth as a literary read in g .112 T h e p rob lem s w hich n ascent p hilosop h y thin ks it raises in fact arise of their ow n accord from its unanalysed relation ship to an object w h ich never raised th em as su c h . A nd th is is no less true o f its m ost sp ecific m od es of thou ght: th e pre-S ocratic thinkers w ou ld not h old su ch fascination for certain p h ilo sop hers (w h o practically never p ossess the m eans o f really u nd erstan ding th em ) w ere it not that they su p p ly its m ost accom plished m od els to the tradi tion (m ost " e m in e n tly represented b y H eidegger) o f th e play on w ords of com m on origin w hich estab lish es a doubly determ ined relationship b etw een the lin g u istic root and the m yth ic root, or the (H eg elia n ) tradition of etym ology seen as a m ean s of reappropriating th e treasures accum ulated b y th e historical w ork of rea so n .113 It is in d eed the essen ce of learned reflection that it situates the p rinciple o f relations con fu sed ly sensed in the order o f m ean in g (sens), in relations wr ich m anifest th em selves at th e level of the letter (h o m op h on v, h h om ograph y, p aronym y, etym ological kinsh ip , e tc .). T h e in anity o f m eta-


^ G H T (fro m left ,0 ri> /t

reU^ . p u blic)

O ^

, . ' 5AC#ED

ft ,

' %
m aturity


fire, su n , g o ld ^ Q jl * eag le, lig h t, sky r a h (h e a rt), n if, red ^ k a n u n , roast, s p ic c d , rip e , w h eatcak e, sek su , w h e a t, salt k nife, rifle, p lo u g h sh a re , sick le, c a rd in g c o m b , uttinex

h a rv e s t ( m j r d e r ) c u tt i n g w o v en c lo th old age

A B O V E (m a s te r b eam )

ft? /5: * *? r o > c c* . % z


O U T S I D E (fields, asse m b ly , m ark e t) d e a th = fec u n d a tio n vail o f d o o r w all o f d a rk n e s s




S ,


c h ild h o o d

w o m b , p o m e g ra n a te , p a rtrid g e , h en th a m g h a rth , p a ra lle l c o u sin , sc cre t, b lac k co o k in g -p o t, b o ile d m e a t, g ru el, sw e e t, b la n d <J b lo o d , n e fs (liv e r), h u rm a *V^i ~ sta b le , sle e p (d e a th ), e a rth OjTfj to m b , d a rk n e s s , m o o n ^

JO b irth

g e sta tio n

c tl

A o^ T H - n ig h t - v

o f e '% <&*
,^ 0

( u n o f f ic i a l, m a g i c * 1 oT^

r (from right to ic^

O D D -N L M B E R E D n a k e d n e ss, m a id e n , s ta g n a n t w a te r o g ress, w itch , tre a c h e ry , g u ile N e g ro , s m ith , jac k a l (d iv isio n ), b o ar

Fig. 9. Synoptic diagram of pertinent oppositions

l ,CT

^ ^

O P E N IN G F U L L (sw ellin g ) E N T E R IN G C L O S E D (d ifficu lt, e n c lo su re) ia m p , p lo u g h in g I N S I D E (h o u se , g a rd e n , fo u n ta in , w o o d ) b e a n , egg, snake s ta r t o f w eaving B E L O W (ly in g d o w n , m ain b e a m ) ox , oil

h* i n

g re e n , raw co w . grass m ilk, b u t te r u n rip e corn

s p r in g

O P E N IN G O U T k G O IN G O U T E T N TH RESH OLD S I ^ / ' s Ns \vall o f w eav in g lo o m

between WET

- -s



G en erative schemes an d practica l logic

p h y sics w ou ld escap e n o on e if, as Carnap th in k s, its " pseu do-propositions w ere on ly "an in adequ ate m ean s of exp ressin g the feelin g of lif e .114 Platos remark m u st b e taken literally: " T h e p h ilosop h er is a m y th o lo g ist. L ogiCaj criticism in evitab ly m isses its ta r g e t: b ecau se it can o n ly ch allen ge th e rela* tio n sh ip s con scio u sly estab lish ed b etw een w ord s, it can n ot b rin g out the in coh eren t coh eren ce of a d iscou rse w h ich , sp rin g in g from u n d erly in g mythic or id eological sch em es, has th e capacity to su rvive every reductio a d absurdum.

Structures, habitus, power: basis for a theory of symbolic power
D o rn , orthodoxy, heterodoxy There is, perhaps, n o b etter w ay of m aking f e ltth e real fu n ctio n o f classificatory
sy stem s than to evok e as con cretely as p ossib le th e abrupt and total transfor

mation of d aily life w h ich occurs on " th e return of a z a l . E verything, without ex cep tio n , in th e a ctivities of the m en , the w o m e n , and the ch ild ren , is abruptly altered b y the ad option o f a new rh yth m : th e m o v em en ts o f the flock, o f cou rse, b u t also the m e n s w ork and the d o m estic activities of the wom en, the place w here th e cook in g is d on e, the rest p eriods, the food eaten,
the tim es and th e itinerary o f th e w o m e n s m o v em en ts and ou td oor w ork, the

rhythm of th e m e n s assem b ly m eetin gs, of th e cerem on ies, prayers, m arkets, and m eetin gs o u tsid e the village. In the w et season , in the m orn in g, before eddoha, all the m en are in the village ; w ith the ex cep tion o f th e m eetin g som etim es held on a F riday after collective prayer, th is is the tim e o f day for m eetin g s o f the clan assem b ly and all th e con ciliation co m m ittees (b efore a d ivorce, or to p revent a d ivorce, before d ivision of an estate or to avoid d iv isio n ); this is also th e tim e w hen an nou ncem en ts con cern in g all th e m en are m ade from the top o f the m inaret (sum m onin g th em to participate in collectiv e w ork, repairing roads, d ig g in g drains, tran sporting flagstones, e t c .) . A b ou t the tim e o f eddoha th e sh ep herd sets o u t w ith h is flock and the m en go off to th e fields and gardens, either to work on th e m ajor seasonal tasks su ch as p lo u g h in g or d ig g in g or to sp en d their tim e on the m in or a ctivities w h ich o ccu p y th e slack periods o f the agrarian year or day (co llectin g grass or d iss, d ig g in g or clearing d itch es, gathering w o o d , d iggin g u p tree-stu m p s, e t c .) . W h en rain, sn o w , or cold rule out work in the fields and th e earth is too w et to be trod d en on w ith ou t jeopardizing th e future crop or the p lo u g h in g to com e, and w hen the state of the roads and th e fear of b ein g w eather-bou n d far from the h ouse su sp en d traditional relation s w ith the ou tsid e w orld , th e m e n s im perative d uty to be outside b rin gs th em all to the com m u n al h ouse (even across clan an d /o r league d iv isio n s). In d eed , at that tim e of the year, not a m an is m issin g from the village (to w h ich the in hab itants of the a zib - ham let - return at thaqachachth '-e n d o f O ctob er). T h e ev en in g m eal (im ensi) is served very early, as so o n as the m en have taken off their m occasin s and w ork -cloth es and have had a short rest. By [


i6 o

Structures , habitus , po w er

nightfall, everyon e is at h om e, excep t th ose w h o w ant to offer ev en in g prayer in th e m osq u e, w here th e last prayer ( eVicha) is generally brought forward so as to be said at the sam e tim e as maghreb. B ecause the m en eat all their m eals in doors (excep t th e afternoon snack), the w o m en , ou sted from their ow n sp ace, strive to recon stitu te a separate u niverse, m aking the preparations for the m eal over by the w all o f darkness, d uring the aftern oon, w h ile the m en are aw ay, taking care not to attract a tten tio n , even w h en b usy, or be fou n d d oin g n o th in g : the lo o m , w h ich is up throu gh ou t th e w et season , affords th em a sort of veil, b eh ind w h ich they can w ithdraw , and also the alibi of a perm anently available activity. T h e sam e strategies appear in the use made of the village sp ace: if th e m en are presen t, the w ife cannot g o to the fountain all m orning, especially sin ce th e risk o f a fall requires special precautions; so the " old w o m a n is th e on e w h o goes and g ets the w ater in the m orning and, if there is no little girl available, keeps ch ickens and anim als aw ay from the m attin g on w h ich the olives or grain are spread o u t b efore b ein g taken to the press or the m ill. T h e grou p s w ithdraw al into itself, and also in to its ow n past, its traditions - w ith th e tales and legen d s in the lon g ev en in g s in the room reserved for the m en - is follow ed by the o p en in g on to th e ou tsid e w orld in the dry sea so n .1 W hereas d uring the w et season the village aw oke every m orn in g w ith o u t much ado, on ce a z a l returns it awakes w ith a great deal o f noise and b u s tle : the tread of m ules as m en m ake their w ay to m arket is follow ed by the unin terrup ted tread o f th e o u tg o in g flocks, and then by the clatterin g hooves o f the asses ridden or led b y the m en goin g off to th e fields or the fo rest. A bout the tim e of eddhoha, the sh ep herd brings back his flock and som e o f th e men return to th e village for th eir m idday rest. T h e m u ezzin s call to eddohor is th e sign al for the secon d g o in g out of th e day. In less than half an h our, the village is th is tim e alm ost com p letely em p tied : in the m o rn in g, the w om en w ere kept in the h ou se b y th eir d om estic tasks and above all b y the im propriety there w ou ld be in taking their m idday rest ou tsid e, under a tree, like th e m en, or in h urryin g to get h om e, w hich is a w om a n s proper place at a m om ent reserved for in tim a c y ; b y contrast, in the afternoon, all b ut a few o f th e w om en accom pan y the m en , at least on certain occasion s: there are first, o f course, th e "old w o m e n w h o, after " givin g th eir o rd ers to the daughters-in-law w h ose turn it is to prepare d inn er, taking the m easure of flour from th e akufi, g ettin g the b u n ch o f o n io n s and th e other vegetables required for imensx out o f th arichth and p u ttin g th e keys to all the stores back on their g ird les, go and m ake th eir con trib ution to the w ork and assert their au th ority in their ow n w ay, b y in sp ectin g the gardens, m aking good the m en s n eg lig en ce the stray p iece o f w ood , the handful o f fodder dropped on the w ay, th e branch left b eh in d under a tree - and in th e ev en in g b rin gin g back, on to p of the

D o x a t orthodoxy , heterodoxy


jar o f w ater from the sp rin g in the gard en , a bun ch o f herbs, v in e-lea v es, or fliaize, for the d om estic anim als. T h ere are also the yo u n g w iv es w ho, especially at the tim e of the fig-harvest, follow their h u sb an d s around the orchard, picking up the fruit the m en have b eaten d o w n , so rtin g it and

setting it ou t on trays, and g o h om e in th e even in g , each a few p a ces b ehind

her h usb and , alone or accom panied b y the "old w o m a n . T h u s the d ou b le g o in g ou t d elim its a z a l, a sort of " d e a d tim e w hich everyone feels he m ust respect: all is silen t, still, and austere; th e streets are " d esertlik e . M ost of th e m en are scattered far from the village, so m e living in the a zib , others aw ay from h om e for lon g p eriods looking after th e garden and the pair of oxen that are b ein g fatted , others w atch in g over th e fig-drying shed (in this season every fam ilys fear is that in an em ergen cy it w ould not be able to assem b le its m en ). N o on e can say w heth er th e p u b lic space of the village b elon gs to m an or to w om an . S o each of th em takes care not to occupy it: there is so m eth in g su sp iciou s about an yon e w h o v en tu res in to the streets at that hour. T h e few m en w h o have not stayed in the field s to sleep under a tree take their siesta in any sp ot that is to hand, in th e shade of a porch or a h ed ge, in front o f the m osq u e, on th e flagstones o r indoors, in the courtyards o f their h ou ses, or in sid e room s if th e y have o n e. F urtive shadows slip across the street from on e house to another: th e w o m e n , eq u ally unoccupied, are taking advantage of the lim ited presence of the m en to m eet together or visit on e another. O n ly th e sh ep h erd s 2 w h o have returned to the village w ith their flocks bring life to th e outer crossroads and th e m inor m eeting-places w ith their gam es - thigar, a kicking con test, thighuladthy stonethrowing at targets, thim rith, a sort o f d rau ghts, etc. D o in g o n es d u ty as a m an m eans con form in g to the social order, and this is fun dam en tally a q uestion of resp ectin g rh ythm s, k eep in g p ace, not falling out of lin e ." D o n t w e all eat the sam e w heatcake (or th e sam e b arley) ? " D o n t we all get up at the sam e tim e? T h ese various w ays of reasserting solidarity contain an im plicit d efinition of the fundam ental virtue of co n fo rm ity , the opposite of w h ich is the desire to stand apart from others. W orking w hile the others are resting, stayin g in th e house w hile the others are w ork in g in the fields, travelling on d eserted roads, w andering round the streets of th e village while the others are asleep or at the m arket - these are all su sp icio u s form s of b ehaviour. T h e eccentric w h o d oes everyth in g d ifferently from other people is called am kh alef (from khalef, to stand o u t, to transgress) and th ere is often a play on w ords to the effect that am kh alef is also th e m an w h o arrives late (from khellef, to leave b eh in d ). T h u s , as w e have seen , a w o rth y m an, conscious o f h is resp on sib ilities, m u st get up early .3 " T h e m an w h o d oes not settle h is b u sin ess early in the m orn ing w ill never settle i t ; " I ts th e m orning that giv es the hunters th eir g a m e ; bad luck for late sleep ers! and again " T h e


Structures , habitus , po w er

suq is the m o r n i n g " T h e m an w ho sleep s u n til the m idd le of a z a l w ill find the m arket e m p ty 0 (sebah, to be present in th e m orn ing, also m eans to be fittin g, b eco m in g ).4 But g ettin g up early is not a virtue in itself: if they are ill-u sed , w asted , the first hours are no m ore than "tim e taken from th e night *\ an offence against the p rin cip le that "there is a tim e for e v e r th in g , and that "everyth in g sh ou ld be d on e in its t im e (k u l w aqth salw aqth-is "everything in its t im e ). What is the u se o f a man's g ettin g up at th e m u ezzin s call if he is not g o in g to say the m orning prayer? T h ere is on ly m ockery for the m an w ho, d esp ite gettin g up "u nd er th e sta r s or w hen "daw n has not taken sh a p e ('alam ) has achieved little. R espect for co llective rhythm s im plies resp ects for the rhythm that is appropriate to each action - n either excessive haste nor slu ggish n ess. It is sim p ly a q u estion of b ein g in the proper place - at the proper tim e. A m an m ust walk w ith a "m easured p a c e ( ikthal uqudmis) neither laggin g b eh ind nor ru n nin g like a " d a n cer, a shallow , frivolous way to behave, unw orthy of a m an of honour. S o there is m ockery too for th e m an w h o h urries w ithou t thin king, w ho runs to catch up with som eon e else, w ho w orks so hastily that h e is likely to "m altreat the ea r th , forgettin g th e teachin gs o f w isd om : " It is u seless to pursue the w orld, N o on e w ill ever overtake it . " Y ou w ho rush along, Stay and be rebuked; D a ily bread com es from G o d , It is not for you to concern y o u rse lf. T h e over-eager peasant m oves ahead o f the collectiv e rhythm s w h ich assign each act its particular m om en t in the space o f the d ay, the year, or human life; his race w ith tim e threatens to drag the w hole group in to the escalation o f d iabolic am bition , thahraym ith, and th u s to turn circular tim e in to linear tim e, sim p le reproduction into in definite accu m u la tio n .5 T h e tasks o f farm ing, horia erga, seasonable wr orks, as th e G reeks called th em , are defined as m uch in their rh ythm , w hich d eterm in es their duration, as in their m om en t. T h e sacred tasks, su ch as p lou gh in g and so w in g , fall to those w h o are capable o f treating th e land w ith th e respect it deserves, of approaching it (qabel) w ith the m easured pace o f a m an m eetin g a partner w hom h e w ants to w elcom e and honour. T h is is u nd erlin ed b y the m yth of the origin of w heat and barley. A dam w as so w in g wT heat; E ve brought him som e w heatcake. S he sawr him sow in g grain b y grain, " coverin g each seed w ith earth , and in voking G od each tim e. S h e accused him o f wasting his time. W hile her husband w as b u sy eating, sh e started to broadcast the grain, w ithou t in vok in g the nam e o f G od . W hen the crop cam e u p , A dam found

D o x a o rth o d o xy h eterodoxy

i6 3

his field full of strange ears, d elicate and b rittle, like w om an . H e called this

plant (barley) ech'ir" w ea k . O n e of the effects o f the ritualization o f practices

js precisely that of assign in g them a tim e - i.e . a m o m en t, a tem p o , and a duration - w hich is relatively in d ep en d en t o f external n ecessities, th ose of

climate, tech n iq u e, or econ om y, thereby conferring on th em th e sort of

arbitrary n ecessity w h ich sp ecifically d efines cultural arbitrariness. T h e reason w h y su b m ission to the collective rh yth m s is so rigorously dem anded is that the tem poral form s or the spatial structures structure not only the g rou p s representation o f the w orld b ut the grou p itself, w hich orders itself in accordance w ith th is representation: th is m ay be clearly seen , for exam ple, in the fact that the organization of the existen ce of the m en and the women in accordance w ith different tim es and different places co n stitu tes tw o interchangeable w ays of secu rin g separation and hierarchization o f th e m ale and fem ale w orld s, th e w om en g o in g to th e foun tain at an hour w h en the m en are not in the streets, or b y a special path, or both at o n c e .6 T h e social calendar ten ds to secure in tegration by co m p ou n d in g the synchronization of identical p ractices w ith the orchestration of different but structurally h o m o lo gous practices (su ch as p lou gh in g and w eavin g ).7A ll the d iv isio n s of the group are projected at every m om en t in to the spatio-tem poral organization w hich assigns each category its place and tim e: it is here that the fu zzy logic of practice wT orks w ond ers in en ab lin g th e group to ach ieve as m uch social and logical integration as is com p atib le w ith th e d iversity im p osed by the d ivision of labour b etw een the sexes, the ages, and the " o c cu p a tio n s (sm ith , butcher ).8 S yn ch ron ization , in the case o f rites or tasks, is that m u ch m ore associated w ith spatial grou p ing the m ore there is collectively at stake: rites thus range in im portance from the great solem n rites (e .g . aw djeb) enacted by everyone at the sam e tim e, through the rites perform ed at the sam e tim e but by each fam ily separately (th e sacrifice o f a sh eep at the A id ), through those w h ich m ay be practised at any tim e ( e .g . the rite to cure stie s), and finally to th ose w hich m u st only take place in secret and at u nusual hours (the rites of love m agic). Practical taxonom ies, w h ich are a transform ed, m isrecogn izable form o f th e real d iv ision s of the social order, con trib ute to th e reproduction o f that order by p rod ucing ob jectively orchestrated p ractices adjusted to th ose d iv isio n s. Social tim e as fo rm , in the m usical sen se, as su ccessio n organized b y the application to p assin g tim e o f the principle w h ich organizes all d im en sio n s f practice, tends to fulfil, even m ore effectively than th e d ivision o f sp ace, a function of integration in and through d ivision , that is, through hierarchiza tion. But m ore p rofou n d ly, the organization of tim e and the g rou p in accor dance w ith m ythical structures leads collective p ractice to appear as " realized my t h , in the sen se in w hich for H e g el tradition is "realized m o ra lity


Structures, habitus, p o w e r

(S ittlic h k e it), the recon ciliation o f su b jective dem and and objective (i e co llectiv e) n ecessity w hich grou n d s the belief of a w hole group in what the group b elie v es, i.e . in th e group: a reflexive return to the prin cip les of the op eration s o f ob jectification , practices or d iscou rses, is p revented by the very rein forcem en t w hich these p rod u ction s co n tin u o u sly draw from a w orld o f ob jectification s p roduced in accordance w ith the sam e subjective p rin cip les. E very estab lish ed order ten d s to p rod uce (to very different d egrees and with very d ifferen t m eans) the naturalization of its owT arbitrariness. O f all the n m ech an ism s ten d in g to p rod u ce this effect, the m ost im portant and the best con cealed is u n d ou b ted ly the dialectic o f the ob jective ch an ces and the agents aspirations, out of w hich arises the sense o f lim its, co m m o n ly called the sense o f re a lity , i.e . th e corresp ond en ce b etw een the ob jective classes and the in tern alized classes, social structures and m en tal stru ctures, w hich is the basis o f the m ost ineradicable adherence to th e estab lish ed order. S y stem s of classification w hich reprodu ce, in their ow n specific lo g ic, the objective cla sses, i.e . the d iv isio n s b y sex, age, or p osition in the relation s o f production, m ake th eir sp ecific con trib u tion to the reproduction of the pow er relations o f w h ich they are th e p rod u ct, by secu rin g the m isrecogn ition , and h en ce the recogn ition , of th e arbitrariness on w hich they are b a se d : in th e extrem e case, that is to say, w hen there is a q uasi-p erfect corresp ond en ce b etw een the ob jective order and th e su b jective p rin cip les o f organization (as in ancient so cieties) th e natural and social w orld appears as self-ev id en t. T h is experience w e shall call doxa, so as to d istingu ish it from an orthodox or heterodox belief im p ly in g aw areness and recogn ition o f th e p ossib ility of different or an tagon istic b eliefs. S ch em es o f th ou gh t and p ercep tion can produce the o b jectivity that th ey d o produce on ly by p rod u cin g m isrecogn ition o f the limits o f th e cogn ition that they m ake p ossib le, thereby fo u n d in g immediate a d h eren ce, in the d oxic m od e, to the wr orld o f tradition exp erienced as a "natural w o r ld and taken for granted. T h e in stru m ents o f k now ledge o f the social w orld are in this case (ob jectively) political in stru m en ts w hich co n trib u te to the reprodu ction o f the social w orld by p rod u cin g immediate ad heren ce to th e w orld, seen as self-evid en t and u n d isp u ted , of w hich they are th e p rod uct and of w h ich they reproduce the structures in a transformed form . T h e political fu n ctio n o f classifications is never m ore lik ely to pass u n n o ticed than in the case o f relatively undifferentiated social form ation s, in wT hich the prevailing classificatory system en cou n ters n o rival or antagonistic p rin cip le. As w e have seen in the case o f the d o m estic con flicts to which T m arriages often give rise, social categories disadvantaged by the symbolic ord er, su ch as w om en and th e y o u n g , cannot but recogn ize the legitimacy o f th e d om in ant classification in th e very fact that th eir only ch an ce of

D o x a , orthodoxy , heterodoxy neutralizing th ose of its effects m ost contrary to th eir ow n in terests lies in subm itting to them in order to m ake use o f them (in accordance w ith the logic 0f the eminence grise). T h e taxon om ies o f the m ythico-ritual system at o n ce d ivid e and u nify, legitim ating u n ity in d ivision , that is to say, hierarchy .9 T h er e is no need to insist on the fun ction of legitim ation of the d iv isio n of labour and power between the sexes that is fulfilled by a m yth ico-ritu al sy stem entirely d o m inated by m ale values. It is perhaps less ob viou s that the social structuring of tem porality w h ich organizes representations and practices, m ost solem n ly reaffirmed in the rites of passage, fulfils a political fu n ctio n by sym bolically m anipulating age lim its, i.e . the b oundaries w h ich d efine age-group s, but also the lim itations im posed at different ages. T h e m yth ico-ritu al categories cut up the age con tin u u m into d iscon tin u ou s segm en ts, co n stitu ted not b io lo g i cally (like the p hysical sig n s of ageing) but so cia lly , and m arked by the sym bolism o f co sm etics and cloth in g, d ecorations, orn am en ts, and em b lem s, the tokens w hich exp ress and u nd erlin e the represen tation s o f the u ses o f the body that are legitim ately associated w ith each socially defined age, and also those w h ich are ruled ou t b ecau se th ey w ou ld have th e effect o f d isru ptin g the system o f o p p osition s b etw een the gen erations (su ch as rejuvenation rites, which are th e exact in version o f th e rites of p assage). Social representations of the different ages o f life, and o f th e properties attached by definition to them , exp ress, in their ow n logic, th e pow er relations b etw een th ea g e-cla sses, helping to reproduce at on ce th e u nion and th e d ivision o f th ose classes by means o f tem poral d iv isio n s ten d in g to produce both co n tin u ity and rupture. T h ey thereby rank am on g the in stitu tion alized in stru m en ts for m aintenance of the sym b olic order, and h en ce am ong the m ech an ism s of the reproduction of the social order w h ose very fu n ction in g serves the interests o f those occupying a d om in an t p osition in th e social stru cture, th e m en o f m ature a g e .10 W e see yet again howr erron eou s it w ou ld b e to con sid er o n ly the cogn itive or, as D u rk h eim p ut it, " sp e cu la tiv e , fu n ction s of m yth ico-ritu al represen tations: th ese m ental stru ctures, a transfigured reproduction o f the structures con stitutin g a m ode of p rod uction and a m ode o f biological and social reproduction, con trib ute at least as efficaciously as th e provisions o f cu stom towards d efining and m aintaining th e d elim itation o f p ow ers b etw een the sexes and gen erations, through the ethical d isp o sitio n s th e y p rod uce, su ch as the sense of honour or respect for elders and an cestors. T h e theory o f know ledge a d im en sion o f political theory b ecau se the sp ecifically sy m b o lic pow er to nipose the p rin cip les o f the con stru ction o f reality - in particular, social reality - is a major d im en sion o f political p ow er. In a determ in ate social form ation, the stabler the ob jective structures and the m ore fully they reproduce th em selves in the a g e n ts d isp o sitio n s, the


Structures , habitus , p o w e r

greater the ex ten t of the field of d oxa, o f that w hich is taken for granted. W h en , ow in g to the q uasi-p erfect fit b etw een th e ob jective stru ctures and the in tern alized structures w hich results from the logic o f sim p le reproduction, th e estab lish ed cosm ological and political order is perceived not as arbitrary, i.e . as on e p ossib le order am on g o thers, but as a self-ev id en t and natural order w h ich g oes w ith ou t sayin g and therefore goes u n q u estio n ed , the agents 5 aspirations have the sam e lim its as the ob jective co n d itio n s o f w hich th e y are th e product.
It is not easy to evoke the subjective experience associated with this world o f the realized ought-to-be, in which things that could scarcely be otherwise nonetheless are w hat they are only because they are what they ought to be, in w hich an agent can have at one and the same tim e the feeling that there is nothing to do except what he is doing and also that he is only doing what he o u g h t.11 And so it is in all seriousness that I juxtapose two particularly striking evocations of this experience, one by an old K abyle w om an, underlining the fact that to be ill and dying was a social status, with its attendant rights and duties, and the other by Marcel Proust, describing the subjective effects of the ritualization of practices: " In the old days, folk d id n t know what illness was. T h ey w ent to bed and they died. Its only nowadays that w ere learning words like liver, lung [albumun; Fr. le poum on\t intestines, stomach [listuma; Fr. Vestomac], and I d on t know what! People only used to know [pain in] the belly [th'abut]; thats what everyone w ho died died o f, unless it was fever [thatcla] . . . In the old days sick people used to call for death, but it w ouldnt com e. When som eone was ill, the new s soon spread everyw here, not just in the village, but all over the * arch. Besides, a sick m ans house is never empty: in the daytim e all his relatives, m en and w om en, com e for n e w s .. .A t nightfall, all th e women relatives, even the youngest, would be taken to his bedside. And once a week there was 'the sick m ans m arket umutin]: they would send som eone to buy him meat or fruit. All thats forgotten nowadays; its true, there arent any sick people now , not as there used to be. N ow everyones sick, everyones complaining o f som ething. T hose w ho were dying used to suffer a lot; death came slow ly, it could take a night and a day or two nights and a day. D eath 'always struck them through their sp eech : first they became dum b. Everyone had time to see them one last time; the relatives were given tim e to assem ble and to prepare the burial. T h ey w ould give alm s to make the dying easier: they would give the com m unity a tree, generally a fig-tree planted beside the road. Its fruit would not be picked, but left for passing travellers and the poor [chajra usufagh, the tree of the outgoing; chajra n esadhaqa, the alms tr e e ]. . .W h os ill nowadays? W hos well? Everyone com plains but no one stays in b ed ; they all run to the doctor. Everyone knows w hats wrong w ith him now.*12 "From the position of the bed, m y side recalled the place where the crucifix used to be, the breath of the recess in the bedroom in my grandparents house, in the days w hen there were still bedroom s and parents, a tim e for each thing, when you loved your parents not because you found them intelligent but because they were your parents, w hen you w ent to bed not because you w anted to but because it was time, and when you marked the desire, the acceptance and the whole cerem ony of sleeping by going up two steps to the big bed, where you closed the blue rep curtains with their raised-velvet bands, and w here, w hen you were ill, the old rem edies kept you for several days on end, with a nightlight on the Siena marble m antelpiece, w ithout any of the immoral m edicines that allow you to get up and imagine you can lead the

D o x a , orthodoxy , heterodoxy


life of a healthy man when you are ill, sweating under the blankets thanks to perfectly harmless infusions, which for two thousand years have contained the flowers of the meadows and the w isdom of old w om en .13

M oreover, w hen the con d ition s of existen ce of w h ich the m em bers o f a group are the product are very little d ifferentiated, th e d isp o sitio n s w h ich each of them exercises in his p ractice are confirm ed and h en ce reinforced b oth by the practice of the other m em bers of th e group (on e fu n ctio n o f sym b olic exchanges su ch as feasts and cerem on ies b ein g to favour the circular rein forcem ent w hich is th e foundation of collective belief) an d also by in stitu tions w hich con stitu te collectiv e th ou gh t as m uch as they express it, su ch as language, m yth , and art. T h e self-evid en ce of the w orld is reduplicated by the in stitu ted d iscou rses about the w orld in w hich the w h o le g ro u p s adherence to that self-evid en ce is affirm ed. T h e sp ecific p oten cy of th e exp licit statem ent that brings su bjective exp erien ces in to the reassuring u n an im ity of a socially approved and collectively attested sen se im p oses itself w ith the authority and necessity of a collective p osition adopted on data in trin sically am enable to m any other structurations. " N a tu r e as scien ce und erstan ds it - a cultural fact w h ich is th e historical product of a long labour o f " d ise n c h a n tm e n t (E ntzauberung) - is never encountered in su ch a u niverse. B etw een the ch ild and th e w orld the w hole group in terven es, not just w ith the w arnings that in cu lcate a fear o f su pern a tural d an gers ,14 b u t w ith a w hole u niverse of ritual practices and also of discourses, sayings, proverbs, all structured in con cordan ce w ith the prin ci ples of the corresp ond ing habitus. Furtherm ore, through th e acts and sy m b o ls that are in tend ed to con trib ute to the reproduction o f nature and o f the group by the analogical reproduction o f natural p rocesses, m im etic representation helps to produce in the agents tem porary reactions (such a s, for exam p le, the collective ex citem en t associated w ith lakhrif) or even lasting dispositions (such as the generative sch em es incorporated in the b ody sch em a) attuned to the objective processes exp ected from th e ritual action - h elp s, in other w ord s, to make the w orld conform to the m yth . Because the su b jective n ecessity and self-evid en ce of the com m on sen se world are validated by th e ob jective con sen su s on th e se n se of th e w orld, what is essential goes w ithou t saying because it comes w ithou t saying: the tradition is silent, n ot least about itself as a tradition; custom ary law is co n ten t to enum erate sp ecific ap plications of principles w hich rem ain im plicit and u n form ulated, b ecause u n q u estion ed ; the play o f th e m yth ico-ritu al h om ologies con stitutes a p erfectly closed w orld , each asp ect of w h ich is, as it w ere, a reflection o f all the others, a w orld w h ich has no place for opinion as liberal G eo lo g y u nd erstan ds it, i.e . as on e of th e different and eq u ally legitim ate answers w h ich can be given to an exp licit question about the established

i6 8

Structures , habitus , p o w e r

political order; and n oth in g is further from th e correlative n otion of the m ajority than th e unanim ity of doxa, the aggregate o f the " c h o ic e s whose su bject is everyon e and n o on e b ecause th e q u estio n s they answ er cannot be ex p licitly asked. T h e adherence expressed in the doxic relation to the social w orld is the absolute form o f recogn ition o f legitim acy through m isrecognition of arbitrariness, sin ce it is unaw are of the very q u estion of legitim acy, which arises from com p etition for legitim acy, and h en ce from conflict between groups claim in g to p ossess it.

universe of the undiscussed

(o r a r g u m e n t)

T h e truth of doxa is only ever fu lly revealed w hen negatively constituted b y the con stitu tion of a field o f opinion, th e locu s of the confrontation of co m p etin g d iscou rses - w h ose political truth m ay be overtly declared or may rem ain h id d en , even from th e eyes of th ose en gaged in it, under the guise o f religious or philosoph ical op p osition s. It is by reference to the universe of op inion that the com p lem en tary class is d efined, the class o f that w hich is taken for granted, doxa, the su m total o f th e th eses tacitly p osited on the hither sid e of all in qu iry, w h ich appear as su ch only retrosp ectively, w hen they com e to be su sp en d ed practically. T h e practical q u estio n in g o f the theses im plied in a particular w ay o f livin g that is brought about b y "culture contact or by th e political and econ om ic crises correlative wr class division ith is not the p urely in tellectual operation w hich p hen o m en o lo g y design ates by the term epoche, the deliberate, m ethod ical su sp en sion of naive adherence to the w o rld .15 T h e critiq ue w'hich brings the u n d iscu ssed in to d iscu ssio n , the unform ulated in to form ulation, has as the con d itio n of its p ossib ility objective crisis, w h ich , in breaking the im m ediate fit b etw een the su bjective structures

D o x a , orthodoxy , heterodoxy


and the objective structures, d estroys self-evid en ce practically. It is w hen the social w orld loses its character as a natural p henom en on that the q u estion of the natural or con ven tional character (phusei or nomo) of social facts can be

raised.16 It follow s that th e w ou ld -b e m ost radical critiq ue alw ays has the lim its that are assigned to it by th e ob jective con d ition s. C risis is a necessary
condition for a q u estio n in g of doxa b ut is not in itself a sufficient con d ition for the p rod uction o f a critical d iscou rse. In class societies, in w hich the definition of th e social w orld is at stake in overt or latent class stru ggle, the drawing o f the lin e b etw een the field o f op in io n , o f that w hich is exp licitly q uestioned, and the field o f doxa , of that w hich is b eyon d question and w hich each agent tacitly accords b y th e m ere fact of actin g in accord wr ith social con ven tion, is itself a fundam ental ob jective at stake in that form o f class struggle w h ich is the struggle for the im p osition o f the d om in ant sy stem s of classification. T h e d om inated classes have an interest in p u sh in g back the lim its of doxa and exp osin g the arbitrariness o f th e taken for g ra n ted ; the dom inant classes have an interest in d efen d in g the integrity o f d oxa or, short of this, of estab lish in g in its p lace th e necessarily im perfect su b stitu te, orthodoxy. It is on ly w hen the d om in ated have th e m aterial and sym b olic m eans of rejecting th e d efinition of the real that is im posed on them through logical structures reprodu cing the social structures (i.e . the state o f the power relations) and to lift the (in stitu tion alized or internalized) censorsh ip s w hich it im p lies, i.e . w hen social classifications b ecom e th e object and in strum ent of class stru ggle, that the arbitrary p rin cip les of the prevailing classification can appear as su ch and it therefore b ecom es necessary to undertake the wr ork of co n sciou s system atization and express rationalization w hich marks the passage from doxa to orth odoxy. O rth odoxy, straight, or rather straightened, o p in ion , w h ich aim s, w ithou t ever en tirely su cceed in g , at restoring the prim al state of in n o cen ce of d oxa, exists on ly in th e ob jective relation ship w h ich o p p oses it to h eterod oxy, that is, b y reference to th e ch oice - hairesis, heresy - m ade p ossib le by the existence o f competing possibles and to the exp licit critiq ue of the su m total of the alternatives not chosen that the estab lish ed order im p lies. It is defined as a sy stem o f eu p h em ism s, o f acceptable w ays o f th in k in g and sp eak ing the natural and social w orld , w hich rejects heretical rem arks as b la sp h em ies .17 But the m anifest cen sorsh ip im p osed b y orth odox d iscou rse, the official way of speaking and th in k in g the w orld, con ceals another, m ore radical c e n so r sh ip : the overt op p osition b etw een " r ig h t op inion and " le f t or " w r o n g o p in ion , w hich d elim its the universe o f possible discourse, be it legitim ate or illegitim ate, eu p h em istic or b lasph em ou s, m asks in its turn the fundam ental op p osition b etw een the universe o f th in gs that can be stated, and hence th o u g h t, and


Structures , habitus , p o w e r

the universe of that w hich is taken for granted. T h e universe of discourse in th e classic d efinition given b y A . de M organ in his Form al L o g ic, "a range o f ideas w h ich is either exp ressed or understood as con taining the w hole matter under d isc u ssio n ,18 is practically defined in relation to th e necessarily u nn oticed com p lem en tary class that is con stituted by the universe of that w h ich is u n d iscu ssed , u nn am ed, adm itted w ith ou t argum ent or scrutiny T h u s in class societies, everyth in g takes place as if the struggle for the power to im pose th e legitim ate m od e o f th ou ght and exp ression that is unceasingly w aged in th e field of the p rod uction o f sym b olic go o d s tended to conceal, not least from th e eyes of those involved in it, the con trib ution it m akes to the d elim itation o f the u niverse o f d iscou rse, that is to say, the universe of the thinkable, and h en ce to the d elim itation of the u niverse o f the unthinkable; as if eu p h em ism and b lasp h em y, through w h ich the exp ressly censored u nn am eable n on eth eless finds its w ay into th e universe o f d iscou rse, conspired in their very antagonism to occu lt the " aphasia o f th ose w ho are d en ied access to th e in stru m en ts of the stru ggle for th e d efinition o f reality. If on e accepts th e eq u ation m ade by Marx in T he G erm an Ideology, that "language is real, practical c o n sc io u sn e ss , it can be seen that the boundary betw een the universe o f (orthod ox or h eterodox) discou rse and the universe of doxa, in the tw o fo ld sense o f w hat goes w ithou t saying and w hat cannot be said for lack o f an available d iscou rse, represents the d ivid in g-lin e betw een the m ost radical form of m isrecogn ition and the aw akening of political con scio u sn ess. T h e relation ship b etw een language and exp erience never appears more clearly than in crisis situ ation s in w hich the everyday order (Alltaglichkeit) is ch allen ged , and w ith it the language o f order, situ ation s w hich call for an extraordinary discou rse (the Ausseralltaglichkeit w hich W eber p resen ts as the decisive characteristic o f charism a) capable of g iv in g system atic expression to the gam u t o f extra-ordinary exp erien ces that th is, so to speak, objective epoche has provoked or m ade p o s s ib le ." Private exp eriences u ndergo nothing less than a change o f state w hen they recogn ize th em selv es in the public objectivity o f an already con stitu ted d iscou rse, th e objective sig n o f recognition of their right to be spoken and to be spoken p u b licly : "W ords w reck havoc , says Sartre, " w h en they find a nam e for w hat had up to then b een lived n am elessly.

19 B ecause any language that can com m and attention is an

"authorized la n g u a g e, in vested w ith the authority o f a grou p , the things it d esign ates are not sim p ly exp ressed b ut also authorized and legitim ated . T h is is true not o n ly o f estab lish m en t language b ut also of the heretical discourses w h ich draw their legitim acy and authority from th e very groups over w hich they exert their pow er and w h ich they literally produce b y ex p ressin g them : they d erive their p ow er from their capacity to objectify unform ulated ex

Sym bolic capital periences, to m ake th em p u b lic - a step on the road to officialization and

legitimation - and, w hen th e occasion arises, to m anifest and rein force their concordance. H eretical p ow er, the strength of the sorcerer w h o wrields a liberating p otency - that o f all logotherap ies - in offering the m ea n s o f ex pressing exp eriences usually repressed, the strength o f th e p rop het or
political leader w h o m ob ilizes the group b y an n ou n cin g to th em w hat they

want to hear, rests on the dialectical relation ship b etw een au th orized ,
authorizing language and the grou p w hich au th orizes it and acts on its authority. Sym bolic capital T he theoretical con stru ction w hich retrosp ectively projects the cou n ter-gift into the project of th e gift has th e effect o f transform ing in to m echanical sequences o f ob ligatory acts the at on ce risky and necessary im provisation of the everyday strategies w hich ow e their infinite com p lex ity to th e fact that the g iv ers undeclared calculation m ust reckon w ith the receivers undeclared calculation, and hence satisfy his exp ectation s w ith ou t appearing to know^w'hat they are. In the sam e operation, it rem oves the co n d itio n s m aking p ossib le the institutionally organ ized and guaranteed misrecognition20 w hich is th e basis of gift exchange and, perhaps, o f all the sym b olic labour in ten d ed to trans m ute, b y the sincere fiction of a d isin terested exchan ge, the in ev ita b le, and inevitably interested relations im posed by k inship, n eig h b o u rh o o d , or work, into elective relations of reciprocity: in the wr ork o f reproducing estab lish ed relations - through feasts, cerem on ies, exchan ges of gifts, visits or courtesies, and, above all, m arriages - w hich is no less vital to the ex isten ce o f the group than th e reproduction o f the eco n o m ic bases of its ex isten ce, the labour required to conceal the fun ction o f the exchan ges is as im portant an elem en t as the labour need ed to carry ou t the fu n ctio n .21 If it is true th a t th e lapse of tim e in terp osed is w hat en ab les the gift or cou n ter-gift to b e seen and experienced as an inaugural act o f g en erosity, w ith ou t any past or future, i.e. w ithout calculation, th en it is clear that in redu cing the p o ly th etic to the nionothetic, ob jectivism destroys the sp ecificity o f all practices w h ich , like gift ex ch a n ge, tend or pretend to p ut the law o f self-in terest in to abeyance. A rational contract w ould telescop e in to an instant a transaction w h ich gift exchange d isgu ises b y stretch in g it ou t in tim e; and because o f th is, gift exchange is, if not the only m ode of com m od ity circulation p ractised, at least the only m ode to be fu lly recogn ized , in societies wr ich , b ecau se they deny h the true soil o f their lif e , as Lukacs puts it, have an ec o n o m y in itself and not for itself. E verything takes place as if the essen ce of th e " a rch a ic econom y lay in the fact that econ om ic activity cannot exp licitly acknow ledge the eco n o m ic en d s in relation to w hich it is objectively orien ted: th e "idolatry

1 7 2

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of n a tu re w hich m akes it im p ossib le to think o f nature as a raw material or, co n seq u en tly, to see hum an activity as labour, i.e . as m a n s struggle against nature, ten d s, together w ith the system atic em p hasis on th e sym bolic asp ect of the activities and relations of p rod u ction , to prevent the econom y from b ein g grasped as an eco n o m y , i.e . as a system governed by the law s of interested calcu lation, com p etitio n , or exp loitation . In redu cing the econ om y to its objective reality, econ om ism an nih ilates the sp ecificity located precisely in the socially m aintained d iscrep ancy between the m isrecogn ized or, on e m igh t say, socially repressed, o b jective truth of econ om ic activity, and the social representation o f p rod uction and exchange. It is no accid en t that the vocabulary of the archaic eco n o m y sh ou ld be entirely com p osed of d ou b le-sid ed n otion s that are con d em n ed to disintegrate in the course o f the history of the eco n o m y , sin ce, o w in g to their duality, the social relations they design ate represent u nstable structures w hich are con d em n ed to sp lit in tw o as soon as there is any w eakening o f the social m echan ism s aim ed at m aintain in g th em . T h u s , to take an extrem e exam ple, rahnia, a contract by w'hich the borrow er grants the lender the u sufru ct of som e of his land for the duration of the loan, and w hich is regarded a s the w orst form of u sury w hen it leads to d isp o ssessio n , differs o n ly in the nature of the social relation b etw een the tw o parties, and thu s in th e detailed term s of th e agreem ent, from the aid granted to a relative in difficulties so as to save him from having to sell a piece o f land, w h ich , even w hen it con tin u es to be used b y its ow ner, con stitu tes a sort o f secu rity on the lo a n .22 " It was precisely th e R om ans and G r ee k s , w rites M au ss, " w h o, p o ssib ly follow ing the N orthern and W estern S em ites, d rew the d istinction b etw een personal rights and real rights, separated purchases from gifts and exchan ges, d isso ciated moral ob ligations from contracts, and, above all, co n ceiv ed of the difference b etw een ritual, rights and in terests. By a g en u in e, great and venerable revolu tion they passed b eyon d the excessiv ely hazardous, co stly and elaborate gift eco n o m y , w hich w as en cu m bered wr ith personal con sid erations, in com patib le w ith the d evelop m en t o f the m arket, trade and p rod uction , and, in a w ord, u n e co n o m ic .23 T h e historical situ ation s in w hich th e u nstable, artificially m aintained structures o f th e good -faith econ om y break u p and make w ay for the clear, economic (i.e . economical) co n cep ts of the und isgu ised self-in terest econ om y reveal the cost o f op eratin g an eco n o m y w h ich , b y its refusal to ack n ow led ge and co n fess itself as su ch , is forced to d evote as m uch tim e to con cealin g the reality o f econ om ic acts as it ex p en d s in carrying them o u t: the generalization o f m onetary exch an ge, w h ich exp o ses the objective w ork in gs of th e econ om y, also brings to light the in stitu tional m ech an ism s, proper to the archaic eco n o m y , w h ich have the fun ction of lim itin g and d isg u isin g the play of eco n o m ic interest and calculation (eco n o m ic in the

Sym bolic capital


narrow sen se of the w o r d ). For exam p le, a w ell-know n m a so n , w h o had learnt his trade in F ran ce, caused a scandal, around

1955, by g o in g h om e w hen his

work was finished w ith ou t eatin g th e m eal traditionally g iv en in th e m a so n s honour w h en a house is b u ilt, and then d em an d in g, in addition to th e price of his d ays work (on e thou sand old fran cs), an allow ance of tw o hundred francs in lieu o f the m e a l: his dem and for the cash eq u ivalen t o f the meal was a sacrilegious reversal o f th e form ula used by sy m b o lic alchem y to transm ute the price o f labour into an u n solicited g ift, and it th u s exp osed the device m ost com m on ly em p loyed to keep up appearances by m eans of a collectively concerted m ake-b elieve. A s an act of exchan ge se ttin g the seal on alliances (" I set the w heatcake and the salt b etw een u s ), th e final m eal at the tim e o f th e th iw izi o f harvest or h o u se-b u ild in g naturally becam e a closing rite in ten d ed to transm ute an interested transaction retrosp ectively in to a generous exchan ge (like the g ifts w hich mark the su ccessfu l co n clu sion o f a deal ).24W hereas th e greatest in d u lgen ce was accorded to th e su b terfu g es used by som e to m in im ize the cost o f the m eals at th e end of th e th iw izi (e .g . inviting only the " n o ta b le s of each grou p , or on e m an from each fam ily) - a departure from prin cip les w hich at least paid lip -service to their legitim acy - t h e reaction cou ld on ly be scandal and shock w h en a m an took it upon him self to declare that the m eal had a cash eq u ivalen t, th u s betraying the best-kept and w orst-kept secret (on e that everyon e m ust k eep ), and breaking the law of silen ce w hich guarantees the com p licity of co llectiv e bad faith in the good -faith econ om y.
T he good-faith economy calls forth the strange incarnation of homo economicus known as the bu niya (or bab niya), the man of good faith (niya or thi'ugganth, from a'ggun, the child still unable to speak, contrasted with thahraymith, calculating, technical intelligence). T h e man of good faith would not think of selling certain fresh food products - milk, butter, cheese, vegetables, fruit - to another peasant, but always distributes them am ong friends or neighbours. He practises no exchanges involving money and all his relations are based on total confidence; unlike the shady dealer, he has recourse to none of the guarantees (w itnesses, written docum ents, etc.) with which comm ercial transactions are surrounded. T h e general law o f exchanges means that the closer the individuals or groups are in the genealogy, the easier it is to make agreements, the more frequent they are, and the more com pletely they are entrusted to good faith. Conversely, as the relationship becom es more im personal, i.e. as one moves out from the relationship betw een brothers to that betw een virtual strangers (people from tw o different villages) or even com plete strangers, so a transaction is less likely to occur at all, but it can becom e and increasingly does becom e purely econom ic in character, i.e. closer to its econom ic reality, and the interested calcula tion w hich is never absent even from the most generous exchange (in which both parties account - i.e . count - them selves satisfied) can be more and more openly revealed. T h is explains w hy recourse to formal guarantees becom es more and more exceptional as the social distance betw een the parties decreases, and also as the solem nity of the guarantees increases, because the authorities responsible for authen ticating and enforcing them are more remote and/or more venerated. (First there is

> 74

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the word of w itnesses, which is enhanced if they are distant and influential; then there is a sim ple paper drawn up by som eone not specialized in th e production of lega] docum ents; then the contract signed before a taleb, providing a religious but not a legal guarantee, w hich is less solem n w hen drawn up by the village taleb than bv a w ell-known taleb; then the Cadis written docum ent; and finally the contract signed in front of a law yer.) It w ould be insulting to presum e to authenticate a transaction based on trust betw een trustworthy people, and still more so betw een relatives, before a lawyer, a adi, or even w itnesses. Sim ilarly, the share of th e loss w hich partners agree to accept w hen there is an accident to an animal m ay be entirely different depending on th e assessm ent of their responsibilities w hich th ey com e to in accordance w ith the relationship between them : a man w ho has lent an animal to a close relative feels he m ust m inim ize his partners responsibility. By contrast, a regular contract, signed before th e Cadi or before w itnesses, governed the arrangement by which the K abyles handed over their oxen to the southern X om ads to be looked after for one, tw o, or three w orking years (from autum n to autum n) in exchange for twenty-two double decalitres of barley per ox per year, with costs to be shared in the case of loss and profits shared in the case o f sale. Private arrangements betw een kin and affines are to market transactions what ritual war is to total war. T h e "goods or beasts of the fellah are traditionally contrasted w ith the goods or beasts of the m arket: old inform ants will talk endlessly o f the tricks and frauds w hich are com m on practice in the 'big m arkets, that is to say, in exchanges betw een strangers. T here are countless tales of m ules w hich run off as soon as the purchaser has got them hom e, oxen made to look fatter b y rubbing them with a plant w hich makes them sw ell (adhris), and purchasers who band together to force prices dow n. T h e incarnation of econom ic war is the shady dealer, the man w ho fears neither G od nor m an. Men avoid buying animals from h im , just as they avoid buying from any com plete stranger: as one informant said, for straightforward goods such as land, it is the choice o f the thing to be purchased w h ich determ ines the buyers decision; for problem atic good s, such as beasts of burden, especially m ules, it is the choice of seller w hich decides, and at least an effort is m ade to substitute a personalized relationship ( on behalf o f . . . ) for a com pletely im personal, anonym ous one. Every intermediate stage can be found, from transactions based on com plete distrust, such as that betw een th e peasant and the shady dealer, who cannot dem and or obtain guarantees because he cannot guarantee the quality of his product or find guarantors, to the exchange of honour which can dispense w ith conditions and depend entirely on the good faith of the " contracting p arties. But in m ost transactions the notions o f buyer and seller tend to be dissolved in the network of m iddlem en and guarantors designed to transform the purely econom ic relationship betw een supply and dem and into a genealogically based and genealogically guaranteed relationship. Marriage itself is no exception: quite apart from parallel-cousin marriage, it alm ost always occurs b etw een fam ilies already linked by a whole network of previous exchanges, underwriting th e specific new agree m ent. It is significant that in the first phase of the highly com plex negotiations leading up to the marriage agreem ent, the fam ilies bring in prestigious kinsmen or affines as "guarantors, the sym bolic capital thus displayed serving both to strengthen their hand in the negotiations and to guarantee the deal once it has been concluded.

S im ilarly, th e in dignan t co m m en ts provoked by the heretical b eh aviour of peasants w h o have d eparted from traditional w ays draw a tten tio n to the m echan ism s w h ich form erly in clin ed the peasant to m aintain a m agical relationship w ith the land and m ade it im p ossib le for him to see h is toil as

S ym bolic capital


labour: " I t s sacrilege, th ey have profaned the la n d ; th ey have d o n e away w ith

fear [elhiba]. N o th in g in tim id ates th em or stop s th e m ; th ey turn ev eryth in g upside d o w n , I m sure th e y ll en d up p lo u g h in g in la k h r ifii they are in a hurry and if th ey m ean to sp en d lahlal [th e licit period for p lo u g h in g ] d o in g so m e thing e lse, or in rbi' [spring] if th ey Ve b een too lazy in lahlal. Its all th e sam e to th e m . E veryth in g in th e p easan ts practice actu alizes, in a different m o d e, the o b jectiv e in ten tion revealed b y ritual. T h e land is n ever treated as a raw material to be ex p lo ited , but alw ays as th e ob ject o f respect m ixed w ith fear (elhiba): it w ill " settle its sc o r e s, th ey say, and take reven ge for th e bad treatm ent it receives from a clu m sy or over-hasty farm er. T h e a ccom plished peasant " p resen ts h im s e lf to h is land w ith the stan ce appropriate w hen one man m ee ts an oth er ( i.e . face to face), and w ith the attitu de of tru sting fam iliarity he w ou ld sh o w a resp ected kinsm an. D u r in g the p lo u g h in g , he would n ot think o f d elegatin g th e task of leadin g th e team , and the o n ly task he leaves for h is " c lie n ts ( ichikran) is that o f breaking up the so il b eh ind the p lo u g h . " T h e old m en used to say that to p lo u g h p rop erly, you had to be the m aster o f th e land. T h e y o u n g m en w ere left o u t of it: it w ould have been an in su lt to th e land t o ' p r e s e n t it [qabel] w ith m en one w o u ld not dare to p resent to oth er m e n . " It is the m an w h o con fron ts [receives] other m en , says a p roverb , " w h o m u st con fron t th e la n d . T o take u p H e sio d s o p p o sitio n betw een ponos and ergon, the peasant d oes not w o r k , he takes pains. " G iv e to the earth and the earth w ill g ive to y ou , says a p roverb . T h is can be taken to m ean th at in o b ed ien ce to th e logic o f gift ex c h a n g e, nature b esto w s its bounty o n ly on th ose w h o b rin g it their care as a trib u te. A nd the heretical behaviour o f th ose w h o leave to th e y o u n g the task o f " o p en in g th e earth and ploughing in to it th e w ealth of the n ew y ea r p rovok es th e old er peasants to express th e p rin cip le o f the relation ship b etw een m en and the land, w hich could rem ain u nform ulated as lo n g as it w as taken for gran ted : " T h e earth no lon ger g ives b ecau se w e give it n oth in g . W e op en ly m ock th e earth and it is o n ly right that it sh ou ld pay us back w ith lie s . T h e self-resp ectin g man should alw ays b e b usy d o in g so m eth in g ; if he can n o t find an yth ing to do, at least h e can carve h is s p o o n . A ctivity is as m u ch a d uty of com m un al life as an eco n o m ic n ece ssity . WT hat is valu ed is activity for its ow n sake, regardless of its strictly econ om ic fu n ctio n , in asm u ch as it is regarded as appropriate to th e fu n ction o f th e p erson d o in g it .25 O n ly the application of categories alien to peasant exp erien ce (th o se im p o sed b y eco n o m ic d om in ation and the gen eralization of m onetary exch an ges) b rin g s up the d istin ction betw een th e tech n ical aspect and the ritual or sy m b o lic aspect o f agricultural activity. T h e d istin ction b etw een p rod u ctive and u np ro d u ctiv e w ork or b etw een profitable and u n p rofitable w ork is u n k n o w n : the ancient eco n o m y know s o n ly th e op p osition b etw een the idler w h o fails in h is social d u ty and


Structures , habitus , p o w e r

the w orker w h o perform s h is socially defined proper fu n ctio n , w hatever the product of h is effort. E verything con sp ires to con ceal the relation ship b etw een wr ork and its p rod uct. T h u s th e d istin ction w h ich M arx m akes b etw een the w orking period proper - the tim e d evoted to p lou gh in g and harvest - and the production p erio d - th e n in e m on th s or so b etw een so w in g and h arvestin g, d uring which tim e there is hardly any p rod u ctive w ork to be d o n e - is d isgu ised in practice b y th e apparent con tin u ity conferred on agricultural a ctivity by the countless m inor tasks in ten d ed to assist nature in its labour. N o on e w ou ld have th o u g h t of assessin g th e tech n ical efficiency or eco n o m ic u sefu ln ess o f these in d issolu b ly techn ical an d ritual acts, the peasan ts v ersion , as it wr ere, of art for arts sake, su ch as fen cin g the fields, p ru n in g the trees, p ro tectin g the n ew sh oots from th e anim als, or " v is itin g ( asafqadh) and look in g after th e fields, not to m en tion p ractices gen erally regarded as rites, such as action s in ten d ed to exp el or transfer evil (asifedh) or celebrate the com ing o f sp rin g. S im ilarly, no one wr u ld dream of try in g to evaluate the profitability o o f all the activities w hich th e application o f alien categories w ou ld lead one to regard as u n p rod u ctive, su ch as th e fu n ctio n s carried o u t b y th e head of the fam ily as leader and representative o f the grou p - co-ord in atin g the w ork, sp eak ing in th e m en s a ssem b ly, b argaining in th e m arket, and reading in the m o sq u e. " I f th e peasant c o u n te d , runs a p roverb, " h e would n ot s o w . Perhaps w e sh ou ld say that th e relation ship b etw een w ork and its product is in reality not u n k n ow n , b u t socially repressed; that the pro d u ctivity o f labour is so low that the peasant m u st refrain from co u n tin g his tim e, in order to preserve th e m ean in gfu ln ess o f h is w ork; o r - a n d this is o n ly an apparent con trad iction - that in a w orld in w h ich tim e is so p len tifu l and g o o d s are so scarce, h is b est and in d eed on ly course is to sp en d his tim e w ith ou t cou n tin g it, to sq uan der the on e th in g w h ich exists in ab u n d an ce .28 In sh ort, the reality of p rod u ction is no less repressed than th e reality of circulation , and th e peasan ts " p a in s are to labour w hat the g ift is to com m erce (an activity for w h ich , as E m ile B en ven iste p o in ts o u t, the IndoE uropean languages had no n a m e). T h e d iscovery o f labour p resu p p oses the co n stitu tion of th e com m on grou n d o f p rod u ction , i.e . th e d isen ch antm en t o f a natural w orld henceforw ard reduced to its eco n o m ic d im en sio n alone; ceasin g to b e th e tribute paid to a necessary order, activity can be directed tow ards an exclu siv ely eco n o m ic en d , the en d wrh ich m o n ey , h e n c e f o r w a r d th e m easure of all th in g s, starkly d esign ates. T h is m eans the en d of th e primal u n d ifferen tiated n ess w hich m ade p ossib le the play o f in dividu al and collective m isr e c o g n itio n : m easured b y th e yardstick of m onetary profit, the m ost sacred a ctiv ities find th em selv es co n stitu ted n egatively, as sym bolic, i.e ., in a sense

Sym bolic capital

17 7

the w ord so m etim es receives, as lackin g con crete or m aterial effect, in sh ort,

gratuitous, i.e . d isin terested but also u sele ss.

T h o se w h o ap ply th e categories and m eth od s o f eco n o m ics to archaic econom ies w ith o u t taking in to accoun t the o n tological tran sm u tation they im pose on their object are certainly not alone now ad ays in treating th is type of eco n o m y "as th e F athers o f th e C hurch treated the religions w hich preceded C h ristia n ity : M arxs phrase cou ld also b e ap plied to th o se M arxists w ho tend to lim it research on th e form ations th e y call " p re-ca p ita list to scholastic d iscu ssion ab out the typ ology o f m o d es o f p rod u ctio n . T h e com m on root of this eth n ocen trism is the u n con sciou s acceptance of a restricted definition of economic interest, w h ich , in its exp licit form , is the historical p rod uct of capitalism : th e con stitu tio n o f relatively au ton om ou s areas o f practice is accom panied by a process through w h ich sy m b o lic in terests (o ften describ ed as " sp iritu a l or " c u ltu ra l) com e to b e set up in o p p o sitio n to strictly econom ic in terests as defined in the field o f eco n o m ic tran saction s b y the fundam ental tau tology " b u sin ess is b u s in e s s ; strictly " c u ltu ra l or " aes th e tic in terest, d isin terested in terest, is the paradoxical p rod u ct of the ideological labour in w h ich w riters and artists, th ose m ost d irectly in terested , have played an im portant part and in th e cou rse o f w h ich sy m b o lic in terests becom e au ton om ou s b y b ein g op p osed to m aterial in terests, i.e . b y b ein g sym bolically nullified as in terests. E con om ism k now s no other in terest than that w hich cap italism has p rod uced , through a sort of con crete application of abstraction, by esta b lish in g a u n iverse o f relation s b etw een m an and m an based, as M arx says, on "callou s cash p a y m e n t . T h u s it can find no place in its analyses, still less in its calcu lation s, for the strictly sy m b o lic interest w hich is occasion ally recogn ized (w h en too ob v io u sly en terin g in to conflict with " in te r e st in the narrow sen se, as in certain form s o f nationalism or regionalism ) on ly to be redu ced to the irrationality of feelin g or p a ssio n . In fact, in a u niverse ch aracterized by the m ore or less p erfect in tercon vertib ility of eco n o m ic capital (in the narrow sen se) and sym b olic capital, the economic calculation d irectin g the a g en ts strategies takes in d isso cia b ly in to accoun t profits and losses w h ich the narrow d efin ition o f eco n o m y u n co n scio u sly rejects as unthinkable and unnameable, i.e . as econ om ically irrational. In sh ort, contrary to n aively id y llic represen tation s of " p re-ca p ita list so cieties (or of the "cultural sp here of capitalist so c ie tie s), practice n ever ceases to con form to econ om ic calcu lation even w h en it g ives every appearance of d isin terested ness b y d ep artin g from the lo g ic of in terested calculation (in the narrow sense) and p layin g for stakes that are non-m aterial and not easily quantified. T h u s the theory o f strictly econ om ic practice is sim p ly a particular case f a general theory of the ec o n o m ic s o f practice. T h e on ly way to escap e from the eth n o cen tric n aiveties o f ec o n o m ism , w ith ou t fallin g in to p o p u list

1 7 8

Structures , habitus , p o w e r

exaltation of th e gen erou s naivety of earlier form s of so ciety , is to carry out in fu ll w hat econ om ism d oes on ly partially, and to exten d eco n o m ic calculation t o a ll the good s, m aterial and sym b olic, w ith ou t d istin ctio n , that present th e m se lv e s as rare and w orthy of b ein g sou gh t after in a particular social form ation - w h ich m ay b e "fair w o r d s or sm iles, handshakes or shrugs, c o m p lim en ts or attention , ch allenges or in su lts, honour or h onou rs, powers o r p leasures, gossip or scien tific inform ation, d istin ction or distinctions, e tc . E con om ic calculation has h ith erto m anaged to appropriate the territory o b jectively surrendered to th e rem orseless logic o f w hat Marx calls " naked se lf-in te r e st only b y se ttin g aside a " sa cre d island m iraculously spared by th e " icy w ater of egoistical ca lcu la tio n and left as a sanctuary for the p riceless or w orth less th in g s it cannot assess. But an accountancy of sym bolic ex ch an ges w ou ld itself lead to a d istorted representation o f the archaic ec o n om y if it w ere forgotten that, as th e p rod uct o f a principle o f differentia tio n alien to the u niverse to w hich it is ap plied - the d istin ctio n between e co n o m ic and sym b olic capital - the on ly w ay in w hich su ch accoun tancy can ap preh en d th e u nd ifferen tiatedn ess of eco n o m ic and sy m b o lic capital is in the form of their perfect in tercon vertib ility. If the con stitu tion o f art qua art, a ccom p an yin g the d ev elo p m en t of a relatively au ton om ou s artistic field, leads o n e to con ceive o f certain p rim itive or popular practices as aesth etic, one in evitab ly falls in to th e eth n ocen tric errors unavoidable w hen on e forgets that th o se practices cannot b e con ceived as su ch from w ith in ; sim ilarly, any partial or total objectification o f the an cient econ o m y that d o es not include a theory of th e theorization effect and o f th e social co n d itio n s of objective a p p reh en sion , together w ith a th eory of that econ o m y 's relation to its objective reality (a relation of m isrecogn ition ), su ccu m b s to the su b tlest and m ost irreproachable form o f eth n ocen trism . In its fu ll d efin ition , th e patrim ony o f a fam ily or lineage in clu d es not only th eir land and in stru m en ts o f p rod uction but also th eir kin and their clien tele, nesba, th e netw ork o f alliances, or, m ore broadly, of relation ship s, to be kept u p and regularly m aintain ed , represen tin g a heritage o f co m m itm en ts and d eb ts of h on ou r, a capital o f rights and d u ties built up in the cou rse of su ccessiv e gen erations and p rovid in g an additional source of strength w hich can b e called upon w h en extra-ordinary situ ation s break in upon the daily rou tin e. For all its pow er to regulate th e rou tine o f the ordinary cou rse of ev e n ts through ritual stereotyp in g, and to overcom e crises by p rod u cin g them sy m b olically or ritualizing th em as soon as th e y appear, the archaic econom y is n on eth eless fam iliar w ith th e op p o sitio n b etw een ordinary and extraordinary o cca sion s, b etw een the regular n eed s w h ich th e h ou seh old can satisfy and th e excep tion al n eed s for m aterial and sy m b o lic go o d s and services (in u nusual circum stances of econ om ic crisis, political con flict, or sim p ly urgent

Sym bolic capital


farm work) requ iring th e unpaid assistan ce o f a m ore ex ten d ed grou p . If this

is so, it is b ecause, contrary to w hat M ax W eber su g g ests w h en he draw s a

crude contrast b etw een th e traditionalist typ e and th e charism atic type, the ancient econ om y has its d isco n tin u ities, not o n ly in the p olitical sp here, w ith conflicts w h ich m ay start w ith a ch an ce in cid en t and escalate in to tribal war through th e interplay of the " le a g u e s , b ut also in the ec o n o m ic sp here, w ith the op p osition b etw een th e labour period, w hich in traditional cereal cu ltivation

is particularly sh ort, and the production p e r io d - an op p o sitio n g iv in g rise to

one o f th e basic con trad iction s o f that social form ation an d also, in co n se quence, to the strategies d esign ed to overcom e it .27 T h e strategy o f a ccu m u lating a capital of h onou r and p restige, w h ich p rod uces th e clien ts as m uch as they produce it, provides the op tim al solu tion to th e p rob lem the group would face if it had to maintain continuously (th rou gh ou t th e p rod uction period as w ell) th e w h ole (hum an and anim al) w orkforce it n eed s d u rin g the labour period: it allow s th e great fam ilies to m ake use of th e m a x im u m w orkforce during the labour p eriod, and to reproduce con su m p tion to a m in im u m d uring the u navoidably lon g p rod uction p eriod. Both hum an and anim al consum ption are cu t, the form er b y th e redu ction of the g ro u p to the m inim al unit, the fam ily; and th e latter through hire con tracts, su ch as th e charka o f an ox, b y w hich the ow n er lend s h is anim al in exch an ge for n o th in g m ore than com p en sation in cash or in kind for " d ep reciation of th e ca p ita l . T h ese services, p rovided at precise m om en ts and lim ited of p eriod s o f in tense activity, su ch as harvest tim e, are repaid eith er in th e fo rm of labour, at other tim es of the year, or w ith other services su ch as p ro tectio n , th e loan of animals, etc. T h u s w e see that sym b olic capital, w h ich in the form o f the p restige and renown attached to a fam ily and a nam e is readily co n v ertib le back into econom ic capital, is perhaps the most valuable form o f accum ulation in a so ciety in w h ich the severity of the clim ate (th e m ajor w ork - p lo u g h in g and harvesting - h aving to b e d on e in a very short sp ace o f tim e ) and th e lim ited technical resources (harvesting is d on e w ith the sickle) d em and collective labour. S h ou ld on e se e in it a d isgu ised form of purchase o f labour pow er, or a covert exaction o f corvees? B y all m eans, as lon g as the analysis h olds together w hat h olds together in practice, the double rea lity of instrinsically equivocal, ambiguous co n d u ct. T h is is the pitfall aw aiting all th ose w h o m a naively d u alistic representation of th e relation ship b etw een practice and ideology, b etw een th e " n a tiv e ec on om y and th e " n a tiv e representation of that eco n om y, leads into self-m y stify in g d em y stific a tio n s :28 th e com p lete reality of th is appropriation of services lies in the fact that it can only take Place in the d isgu ise o f the th iw iz i, th e voluntary assistan ce w hich is also a corvee and is th u s a voluntary corvee and forced assistan ce, and that, to use

i8 o

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a geom etrical m etaph or, it im p lies a d oub le half-rotation returning to the startin g-p oin t, i.e . a con version of m aterial capital in to sy m b o lic capital itself reconvertible in to m aterial capital. T h e acq u isition o f a clien tele, even an inherited o n e, im p lies considerable labour d evoted to m aking and m aintaining relations, and also substantial m aterial and sym b olic investm ents, in the form o f political aid against attack th eft, offence, and in su lt, or eco n o m ic aid, w h ich can be very co stly , especially in tim es o f scarcity. A s w ell as m aterial w ealth , time m ust be in vested , f0r the value o f sym b olic labour cannot be defined w ithou t reference to the time devoted to it, giving or squandering time b ein g on e o f the m ost precious of g ifts .29 It is clear that in su ch con d ition s sy m b o lic capital can only be accum ulated at the exp en se of th e accum u lation of eco n o m ic cap ital. C om bin in g w ith th e ob jective ob stacles stem m in g from the in efficiency o f the means of p rod uction , th e action of th e social m echan ism s in clin in g a gen ts to repress or d isgu ise eco n o m ic interest and ten d in g to m ake th e accum ulation of sym b olic capital the on ly recogn ized , legitim ate fofrm of accum ulation, was sufficient to restrain and even p roh ibit the accum u lation o f material capital; and it w as n o d ou b t rare for the assem b ly to have to step in and order som eon e " n ot to get any ric h e r .30 It is a fact that co llectiv e pressure - with w hich th e w ealth y m em bers o f th e grou p have to reckon, because they draw from it not only their au th ority but also, at tim es, political pow er, the strength of w h ich u ltim ately reflects their capacity to m o b ilize th e group for or against in dividu als or grou p s - requires th e rich not o n ly to pay the largest share of th e cost of cerem onial exch an ges ( taw sa ) but also to m ake the biggest con trib ution s to th e m aintenance o f the poor, the lod gin g of strangers, and the organization of festivals. A bove all, w ealth im p lies d u ties. " T h e generous m a n , it is said, " is the friend o f G o d . B elief in im m anent ju stice, which in spires a n um ber o f practices (such as collectiv e oath-sw earing), no doubt help s to m ake of gen erosity a sacrifice d esign ed to w in in return the blessing o f prosperity: "E at, you w h o are u sed to feed in g o th e r s ; " L o rd , give unto m e that I m ay g iv e . B ut th e tw o form s o f capital are so in extricab ly linked that the m ere exh ib ition o f th e m aterial and sy m b o lic strength r e p r e s e n t e d b y p restigious affines is likely to be in itself a sou rce o f m aterial profit in a good -faith ec on om y in w h ich good repute is th e b est, if not the only, econ om ic g u aran tee: it is easy to see w h y the great fam ilies n ever m iss a chance (and this is on e reason for th eir p red ilection for distant m arriages and vast processions) to organize ex h ib ition s of sy m b o lic capital (in w h ich c o n s p i c u o u s con su m p tion is on ly the m ost visib le asp ect), w ith p rocession s o f relatives and friends to so lem n ize the p ilgrim s departure or return; th e b rid es escort, assessed in term s o f the n um ber o f " r ifles and the in ten sity o f the salutes fired in the c o u p le s honour; p restigiou s gifts, in clu d in g sh eep , g iv en on the

Sym bolic capital

occasion of the m arriage; w itn esses and guarantors w h o can be m ob ilized at

aDy tim e and place, to attest the good faith o f a m arket transaction or to strengthen the p osition o f the lineage in m atrim onial negotiation and to

solemnize the contract. O nce on e realizes that sym b olic capital is alw ays credit,
in the w id est sense of th e w ord, i.e . a sort of advance w hich the grou p alone can grant th ose w h o give it th e best m aterial and sym b olic guarantees, it can

be seen that the exh ib ition of sym b olic capital (w hich is alw ays very exp en sive
in econom ic term s) is on e o f th e m echan ism s w hich (n o d ou b t u niversally) make capital g o to capital. It is th u s by d raw ing u p a comprehensive balance-sheet of sy m b o lic profits, without forgettin g the u nd ifferen tiatedn ess of the sy m b o lic and m aterial aspects of the patrim ony, that it b ecom es p ossib le to grasp the econ om ic rationality o f con d u ct w h ich econ om ism d ism isses as absurd: the d ecision to buy a seco n d pair of oxen after the harvest, on the grou n ds that they are needed for treading ou t the grain - w h ich is a w ay o f m aking it know n the crop has been p len tifu l - o n ly to have to sell th em again for lack of fodd er, before the autumn p lou gh in g, w h en they wr ld be techn ically necessary, seem s ou econom ically aberrant on ly if on e forgets all the material and sy m b o lic profit accruing from this (albeit fictitiou s) addition to the fam ily s sy m b o lic capital in the late-su m m er period in w h ich m arriages are n egotiated. T h e perfect rationality o f this strategy o f bluff lies in the fact that marriage is the occasion for an (in the w id est sen se) econ om ic circulation w h ich cannot be seen purely in term s of m aterial go o d s; the profit a grou p can exp ect to draw from the transaction rises w ith its m aterial and especially its sy m b o lic patrim ony, in other w ord s, its stand in g in the eyes of other grou p s. T h is stand in g, w hich depends on the capacity of the g rou p s p oin t of honour to guarantee the invulnerability of its h onour, and con stitu tes an u n d ivid ed w hole in d issolu b ly uniting th e q uan tity and q uality of its go o d s and th e q u an tity and q uality of the m en capable of turnin g th em to good accoun t, is w'hat enables th e grou p , m ainly through m arriage, to acquire p ow erful affines (i.e . w ealth in the form of " rifles , m easured not only b y the n um ber of m en b u t also by their quality, i.e . their p oin t o f h on ou r), and defines the g ro u p s capacity to preserve its land and h onour, and in particular th e honour o f its w om en (i.e . the capital o f m aterial and sym b olic strength w hich can actually be m obilized for m arket transactions, co n tests o f h on ou r, or work on the la n d ). T h u s the m terest at stake in the con d u ct of h onou r is on e for w h ich eco n o m ism has no n am e, and wT hich has to be called sym b olic, although it is su ch as to inspire actions w h ich are very d irectly m aterial; just as there are p rofession s, like law and m ed icin e, in w h ich th ose w h o practise th em m ust be "above s u sp ic io n ,

80 a fam ily has a vital interest in k eep in g its capital of honour, i.e . its capital
of h onou rab ility, safe from su sp icio n . A nd th e h yp ersen sitivity to th e slightest

18 2

Structures , habitus , p o w er

slu r or in n u en d o (tkasalqu bth ) , and the m u ltip licity o f strategies designed to b elie or avert th em , can be exp lain ed by th e fact that sy m b o lic capital is jess easily m easured and cou n ted than land or livestock and that the group u ltim ately th e on ly sou rce o f cred it for it, w ill readily w ithd raw that credit and d irect its su sp icio n s at the stron gest m em bers, as if in m atters of honour as in land, on e m an s greater w ealth m ade the others that m u ch poorer. W e m ust analyse in term s o f the sam e logic th e m echan ism s w h ich som e tim es endowr a p iece of land w ith a value not alw ays corresp ond ing to its strictly techn ical and (in the narrow sen se) eco n o m ic q u alities. D o u b tless the nearest fields, th o se best m aintained and best farm ed, and h en ce the most " p r o d u c tiv e , th ose m ost accessib le to the w o m en (b y private paths, thikh uradjiyin), are p red isp osed to be m ore h igh ly valued by a n y purchaser; - h ow ever, a p iece of land w ill so m etim es take on a sy m b o lic value dispro p ortionate to its econ om ic valu e, as a fu n ctio n of th e socially accepted definition o f th e sym b olic p atrim on y. T h u s the first p lo ts to be relinquished w ill be the land least integrated in to the estate, least associated w ith the name o f its present ow n ers, the land w h ich w as b o u g h t (esp ecia lly by a recent purchase) rather than in h erited , the land b ou gh t from strangers rather than that bough t from k insm en. W h en a field en d o w ed w ith all th e properties wr ich d efine a stron g in tegration in to th e patrim onial estate is ow ned by h strangers, b u y in g it back b eco m es a q u estion o f honour, an alogous to avenging an in su lt, and it m ay rise to exorbitan t p rices. T h e y are purely theoretical prices m ost of th e tim e, sin ce, w ith in this lo g ic , the sy m b o lic p rofits o f making the ch allen ge are greater than th e m aterial profits that w o u ld accrue from cynical (h en ce repreh en sib le) ex p lo itin g o f the situ ation . S o , th e point of honou r the p ossessors set on k eep in g the land, esp ecially if their appropriation is su fficien tly recent to retain its value as a ch allen ge to the alien group, is equal to th e other sid e s d eterm in ation to b u y it back and to a v en g e the injury d o n e to the hurma o f their lan d. It m ay h app en that a third grou p w ill step in w ith a h igher b id , th ereb y ch allen gin g not th e seller, w ho o n ly profits from th e co m p etitio n , b u t the " le g itim a te o w n e rs .31 O n ly an in con sisten t - becau se reduced an d redu ctive - m aterialism can fail to see that strategies w h ose ob ject is to con serve or increase th e honour of th e grou p , in the forefront o f w h ich stand b lood ven gean ce and m arriage, are dictated b y interests no less vital than are in heritan ce or fertility strategies * T h e interest leadin g an agent to d efen d h is sy m b o lic capital is inseparable from the tacit ad heren ce, in cu lcated in th e earliest years of life and reinforced by all su b seq u en t ex p erien ce, to th e axiom atics ob jectively in scrib ed in the regularities o f the (in the broad sen se) eco n o m ic order w h ich co n stitu tes a d eterm in ate typ e of sy m b o lic capital as w orth y o f b ein g pursued and pre* served. T h e ob jective harm ony b etw een the a g en ts 5d isp o sitio n s (h ere, their

M odes o f domination

propensity and capacity to play the gam e of h onou r) and th e ob jective regularities o f w h ich their dispositions are the p rod u ct, m ean s that m em b er ship in this eco n o m ic co sm o s im p lies u n con d ition al recogn ition of the stakes which, by its very ex isten ce, it p resen ts as taken fo r granted, that is, m isrecogflition o f the arbitrariness o f the value it con fers on th em . T h is value is such
to in d u ce in vestm en ts and o v er-in vestm en ts (in b oth the eco n o m ic and the

psychoanalytic sen ses) w h ich ten d , through th e en su in g co m p etitio n and

rarity, to rein force the w ell-grou n d ed illu sion that th e value o f sy m b o lic g o o d s

is inscribed in the nature of th in gs, just as in terest in th ese g ood s is in scrib ed in the nature of m en .
T h u s, the h o m o lo g ies estab lish ed b etw een the circulation of land sold and bought, the circulation o f " th ro a ts " le n t and " retu r n e d (m u rd er and vengeance), and th e circulation o f w om en g iv en and received , that is, b etw een the different form s of capital and the corresp on d in g m o d es of circu lation , oblige u s to abandon the d ich o to m y of the eco n o m ic and the n o n -eco n o m ic which stand s in the w ay o f seein g the scien ce of eco n o m ic p ractices as a particular case of a general science o f the economy o f practices, capable of treating all practices, in clu d in g th o se p urportin g to b e d isin terested or gratu i tous, and h en ce n o n -eco n o m ic, as eco n o m ic p ractices d irected tow ards the m axim izing o f m aterial or sy m b o lic profit. T h e capital accum u lated by grou p s, the energy o f social d yn a m ics - in this case their capital o f p hysical strength (related to their m o b ilizin g cap acity, and h en ce to the n um ber o f m en and their readiness to fig h t), their eco n o m ic capital (land and liv esto ck ) and their sym bolic capital, alw ays ad dition ally associated w ith p o ssessio n o f the other kinds o f capital, b u t su scep tib le of increase or d ecrease d ep en d in g on h ow they are u sed - can exist in different form s w h ich , althou gh su b ject to strict laws of eq u ivalen ce and h en ce m utally con vertib le, produce sp ecific effec ts .33 Sym bolic capital, a transform ed and th ereb y disguised form of p hysical " e co n o m ic capital, p rod uces its proper effect in asm uch, and on ly in asm u ch , as it con ceals the fact that it originates in " m aterial form s o f capital w h ich are also, in th e last analysis, the source o f its effects.

M odes o f dom ination In so cieties w h ich have n o " self-regu latin g m arket (in K arl P o ly a n is se n se ), no ed u cational sy stem , n o juridical apparatus, and n o S tate, relation s o f dom ination can be set up and m aintained on ly at th e cost o f strategies w h ich m ust be en d lessly ren ew ed , becau se the co n d ition s required for a m ediated, losttng appropriation of other agents* labour, services, or h om age h ave not b een brought to geth er. By con trast, d om in ation n o lon ger n eed s to b e exerted in a direct, personal w ay w h en it is en tailed in p ossession of th e m ean s (eco n o m ic


Structures , habitus , po w er

or cultural capital) o f appropriating th e m echan ism s o f the field of production and the field of cultural p rod uction , w h ich ten d to assure their owr reproduc n tion b y their very fu n ctio n in g , in d ep en d en tly o f any deliberate intervention by the agents. S o , it is in the d egree o f objectification of the accum ulated social capital that on e finds th e b asis of all th e p ertin en t differences betw een the m odes of d om in ation : that is, very schem atically, b etw een , on the one hand social universes in w h ich relation s o f d om in ation are m ade, u nm ade, and rem ade in and b y the in teractions b etw een persons, and on the other hand, social form ations in w h ich , m ediated by ob jective, in stitu tionalized m echan ism s, su ch as th ose p rod ucing and guaranteeing the d istrib u tion o f " titles (titles of n ob ility, d eed s o f p ossession , academ ic d egrees, e tc .), relations of d om in ation have the op acity and perm anence o f th in g s and escape the grasp o f individual co n sciou sn ess and pow er. O bjectification guarantees the perm anence and cu m u lativity o f m aterial and sym b olic acq u isition s which can then su b sist w ithou t the agen ts having to recreate them co n tin u ou sly and in th eir en tirety b y d eliberate action; but, because th e profits of these in stitu tion s are th e ob ject o f differential appropriation, objectification also and inseparably en su res the reproduction of the structure o f the distribution of th e capital wrh ich , in its various form s, is th e precond ition for su ch appropria tio n , and in so d oin g, reproduces the structure o f the relations of dom ination and d ep en d en ce. P aradoxically, it is p recisely because there exist relatively autonom ous fields, fu n ction in g in accordance w ith rigorous m echan ism s capable o f im p osin g their n ecessity on the agen ts, that th ose wr o are in a position to h com m and th ese m echan ism s and to appropriate the m aterial an d /or sym bolic profits accruing from their fu n ction in g are able to dispense w ith strategies aim ed expressly (w h ich d oes not m ean m anifestly) and directly (i.e . w ithout b ein g m ed iated by th e m echan ism s) at the d om in ation o f individuals, a dom in ation w hich in th is case is the con d ition o f the appropriation of the m aterial and sym b olic profits o f their labour. T h e savin g is a real one, b ecau se strategies d esign ed to establish or m aintain lastin g relations of depen d en ce are generally very exp en sive in term s o f m aterial g o o d s (as in the p otlatch or in charitable acts), services, or sim p ly tim e; wr hich is wr y , b y a h paradox con stitu tive of this m ode o f d om in ation , the m eans eat up the end, and the actions necessary to en su re the con tinu ation o f pow er th em selv es help to w eaken it .34 E conom ic powr lies not in w ealth b ut in th e relationship b etw een wealth er and a field of econ om ic relations, th e con stitu tion o f w hich is inseparable from the d evelop m en t of a body o f specialized agents, w ith specific in terests; it is in this relationship that w ealth is con stitu ted , in th e form o f capital, that is, as the in stru m ent for appropriating the in stitu tional eq u ip m en t and the

M odes o f domination m echanism s in dispensab le to th e fu n ction in g o f the field, and th ereb y also appropriating the profits from it. T h u s M oses F in ley con v in cin g ly sh o w s that the an cient econ om y lacked not resources b ut the m eans " to overcom e the limits of individual re so u rces*. " T h ere w ere no proper credit in stru m en ts no negotiable paper, no book clearance, no credit p a y m e n t s .. .T h e r e w as m oneylending in p len ty b u t it was concentrated on sm all u surious loans to peasants or con su m ers, and in large borrow in gs to enable m en to m eet the political or other con ven tion al exp en d itu res o f the upper c la s s e s . . . Sim ilarly in the field o f b u sin ess organization: there w ere no lon g-term partnerships or corporations, no brokers or agen ts, n o gu ild s - again w ith the occasional and unim portant ex cep tio n . In short, both the organizational and the opera tional d ev ices w ere lacking for the m obilization of private capital resources .35 T h is analysis is even m ore relevant to an cient K abylia, w hich lacked even the m ost elem entary in stru m ents o f an econ o m ic in stitu tion . Land was in fact m ore or less totally exclu d ed from circulation (th o u g h , occasion ally serving as secu rity, it w as liable to pass from one group to an oth er). V illage and tribal m arkets rem ained isolated and there w as n o way in w h ich th ey cou ld be linked up in a sin gle m echan ism . T h e op p osition m ade by traditional m orality, incarnated by the bu n iya , b etw een the "sacrilegious c u n n in g custom ary in m arket transactions and the good faith appropriate to exchan ges among kinsm en and friends 36 - w hich w as m arked by th e spatial d istin ction betw een th e place o f resid en ce, the village, and the place of transactions, the market - m ust not be allow ed to mask the op p osition b etw een the sm all local market, still "em b ed d ed in social re la tio n sh ip s, as P olyani p uts it, and the market w hen it has b ecom e th e "d om inan t transactional m o d e .37
T he strategies of honour are not banished from the market: though a man may enhance his prestige by tricking a stranger, he may also take pride in having bought som ething at an exorbitant price, to satisfy his point of honour, just "to show he could do it ; or he may boast of having managed to strike a bargain w ithout laying out a penny in cash, either by m obilizing a number of guarantors, or, better still, by drawing on the credit and the capital o f trust which com e as much from a reputation for honour as from a reputation for w ealth. It is said of such a man that "he could come back with the whole market even if he left home with nothing in his pockets. Men whose reputation is known to all are predisposed to play the part of guarantors - either for the seller, w ho vouches for the quality of his animal in their presence, r for the buyer, w ho, if he is not paying in cash, promises that he will repay his debt prom ptly.38 T h e trust in which they are held, and the connections w hich they can mobilize, enable them to "go to the market with only their faces, their names, and their honour for m o n ey - in other words, the only things w hich can take the place of money in this econom y - and even "to wager [to make an offer], whether they have money on them or not". Strictly personal qualities, "which cannot be borrowed or le n t*, count at least as much as wealth or solvency. In reality, even in the market the degree of mutual information is such as to leave little scope for overpricing, cheating, and bluff. If, exceptionally, a man "w ho has not been brought up for the m arket tries


Structures , habitus , pow er

to ''make a b id , he is soon put in his place. " T h e market will ju d g e , they sav m eaning by "m arket not the laws of the market, w hich in a very different univers sanction reckless undertakings, but rather the collective judgm ent shaped and mani fested in the market. Either a man is a "market m a n ( argaz nasuq) or he isnt; a total judgm ent is passed on the whole man, and like all such judgm ents in every society it involves the ultim ate values laid dow n in the mythical taxonom ies. A "house mari (argaz ukhamis) w ho takes it upon him self to overstep his "natural lim its is put in his place with the w ords " Since you're only a fireside m an, remain a fireside man (thakwath, the alcove in the wall o f the house w hich is used to hide the sm all, typically female objects which m ust not be seen in broad daylight - spoons, rags, weaving tools etc.).

T h e village/m ark et d ich o to m y is no d ou b t a m eans of p reventin g the im personal exch an ges of th e m arket from ob tru d in g the d isp o sitio n s of calculation in to th e wr orld of reciprocity relation sh ip s. In fact, wr ether a small h tribal m arket or a b ig regional m arket, the suq represents a transactional mode interm ediate b etw een tw o extrem es, n either o f w h ich is ever fu lly actualized: on the one hand there are th e exch an ges of th e fam iliar wr orld o f acquaintance, based on the trust and good fa ith that are p ossib le w h en the purchaser is well inform ed about the prod ucts exch an ged and the se lle rs strategies, and when the relation ship b etw een the parties con cern ed ex ists before and after the exchan ge; and on th e other hand there are the rational strategies o f the self-regu latin g m arket, w h ich are m ade p ossib le b y th e standardization of its products and th e quasi-m echan ical n ecessity o f its processes. T h e suq does not p rovid e all the traditional in form ation , but n either does it create the con d ition s for rational in form ation . T h is is wr hy all the strategies applied by th e peasants aim to m in im ize the risk im p lied in the u np redictab ility of the o u tc o m e , b y tran sform ing th e im personal relationships o f com m ercial transactions, w h ich have n either past nor future, in to lasting relationships of reciprocity: by callin g u p on guarantors, w itn esses, and m ediators th ey are able to estab lish , or re-establish, the fu n ction al eq u iva len t of a traditional network of relation ship s b etw een th e con tractin g parties. Just as eco n o m ic wr ealth cannot fu n ction as capital u n til it is linked to an econom ic apparatus, so cultural co m p eten ce in its various fo rm s cannot be con stitu ted as cultural capital u ntil it is in serted in to the objective relations betw een th e system o f eco n o m ic p rod uction and the system p rod ucing the producers (wr hich is itself con stitu ted b y th e relation b etw een the school system and th e fam ily). W h en a society lacks b oth the literacy w h ich would enable it to preserve and accu m u late in ob jectified form th e cultural resources it has in herited from the p ast, and also the ed u cational system w h ich would give its agen ts the ap titu des and d isp o sitio n s required for th e symbolic reappropriation o f those resou rces, it can on ly p reserve them in their incor porated sta te ." C o n seq u en tly, to en su re the p erpetuation o f cultural resources w hich wr u ld oth erw ise d isappear alon g w ith th e agen ts w h o bear th em , it has o

M odes o f domination

18 7

resort to system atic in cu lcation , a p rocess w h ich , as is sh o w n b y the case

J the b ard s, m ay last as lon g as the p eriod d u rin g w h ich the resou rces are actually u sed . T h e transform ations m ade p ossib le by an in stru m en t of cultural com m unication su ch as w ritin g have b een ab un dan tly d e sc r ib e d :4 b y d etach 0 ing cultural resou rces from persons, literacy en ab les a so ciety to m ove b eyon d im m ediate hum an lim its - in particular th ose of in dividu al m em ory - and frees it from the con strain ts im plied b y m n em o n ic d ev ices su ch as poetry, the p reservation tech n iq u e par excellen ce in non-literate so c ie tie s ;41 it enables a society to accum u late culture h ith erto preserved in em b o d ied form , and correlatively en ab les particular grou p s to practise prim itive accumulation o f cultural ca pital, th e partial or total m o n o p o lizin g o f the so c ie ty s sym b olic resources in religion, p h ilosop h y, art, and scien ce, by m o n o p o lizin g the instrum ents for appropriation of th ose resources (w ritin g , reading, and other d eco d in g tech n iq u es) henceforw ard preserved not in m em ories but in texts. But th e ob jectification effects o f literacy are n o th in g in com parison w ith those p rod u ced b y the educational sy stem . W ith ou t en terin g in to d etailed analysis, it m u st suffice to point ou t that academ ic q ualifications are to cultural capital w hat m on ey is to econ om ic ca p ita l .42 By g iv in g the sam e value to all holders o f the sam e certificate, so that any on e of th e m can take the place of an y other, the educational sy stem m in im izes th e ob stacles to the free circulation o f cultural capital w h ich resu lt from its b ein g incorporated in individual persons (w ith o u t, how ever, sacrificing th e advantages of th e charis matic id eology o f th e irreplaceable in d iv id u a l); it m akes it p o ssib le to relate all q ualification-holders (and also, n egatively, all unqualified in dividu als) to a single standard, th ereb y settin g u p a single m arket for all cultural capacities and guaran teein g the con vertibility of cultural capital in to m o n ey , at a determ inate cost in labour and tim e. A cad em ic q ualifications, like m on ey, have a co n ven tion al, fixed value w h ich , b ein g guaranteed b y law , is freed from local lim itation s (in contrast to sch olastically u ncertified cultural capital) and tem poral flu ctu a tio n s: the cultural capital w h ich th ey in a sen se guarantee on ce and for all d oes n ot con stantly need to b e p roved . T h e objectification accom plished b y acad em ic degrees and d ip lom as and, in a m ore general w ay, by all form s o f cred en tials, is inseparable from the objectification w h ich the law guarantees by d efin in g perm anent positions w h ich are d istin ct from the biological in d ivid u als h old in g them , and m ay be o ccu p ied b y agents w h o are biologically d ifferen t b u t interchangeable in term s of th e qualifications required. O n ce th is state of affairs is estab lish ed , relation s o f p ow er and dom ination no lon ger exist directly b etw een in d ivid u als; they are set u p in Pure o b jectivity b etw een in stitu tion s, i.e . b etw een socially guaranteed qualifications and socially defined p o sitio n s, and through th em , b etw een the

1 88

Structures, habitus , po w er

social m echan ism s w h ich p rod uce and guarantee both the social value o f the qualifications and th e p osition s and also the distrib ution o f these social attributes, am ong b iological in d iv id u a ls .43 L aw d oes no m ore than sym b olically con secrate - b y recording it in a form w h ich renders it both eternal and universal - the structure of the power relation b etw een groups and classes w hich is produced and guaranteed practi cally by the fun ction in g o f these m ech an ism s. For exam p le, it records and legitim ates th e d istinction b etw een the p osition and the person, the power and its holder, together w ith the relationship obtaining at a particular m om ent b etw een qualifications and jobs (reflecting the relative bargaining pow er of the buyers and sellers o f qualified, i.e . scholastically guaranteed, labour pow er) w hich appears con cretely in a particular distrib ution o f the material 'and sym b olic profits assigned to the holders (or non-holders) of qualifications. T h e law thus contributes its o w n (specifically sym bolic) force to the action o f th e various m echanism s w hich render it superfluous con stantly to reassert pow er relations by overtly resorting to force. T h u s the task of legitim atin g the estab lish ed order does not fall exclusively to th e m echanism s traditionally regarded as b elon gin g to the order o f ideology, su ch as law. T h e system o f sym b olic go o d s production and the system p rod ucing th e producers fulfil in ad d ition , i.e . b y the very logic of their normal fu n ction in g, ideological fu n ction s, by virtue o f th e fact that the m echanism s through w hich they con trib ute to the reproduction o f the estab lish ed order and to the perpetuation o f d om in ation rem ain hidden. T h e educational system h elp s to p rovid e the d om in ant class w ith w hat M ax W eber term s "a theodicy o f its ow n p riv ileg e, not so m uch through the ideologies it produces or in cu lcates (as those w ho speak o f "id eological ap paratu ses w ould have it); b ut rather through the practical justification of the established order which it ach ieves b y u sing the overt con n ection b etw een qualifications and jobs as a sm okescreen for th e con n ection - w hich it records surreptitiously, undercover of form al equality - b etw een the qualifications people obtain and the cultural capital they have inherited - in other w ord s, through the legitim acy it confers on the transm ission o f th is form o f heritage. T h e m ost su ccessfu l ideological effects are those w hich have n o need of w ords, and ask n o m ore than com p licitou s silen ce. It fo llo w s, in cid en tally that any analysis of ideologies, in the narrow sense of " legitim atin g d isc o u r se s, w hich fails to in clu d e an analysis of th e corresponding in stitu tional m echan ism s is liable to be n o more than a contribution to the efficacy o f th ose ideologies: th is is true of all internal (sem iological) analyses of political, educational, religious, or a e s t h e t i c id eologies w h ich forget that the political fun ction o f these id eologies may m som e cases be reduced to the effect of d isp lacem en t and d iversion , cam ouflage and legitim ation, w hich they produce by reproducing - through their over

M odes o f domination


sights and om ission s, and in their deliberately or in volu ntarily com p licitou s silences - the effects of the objective m ech an ism s .4 4 It has b een necessary at least to sketch an analysis of the ob jective m echan isms w h ich play a part both in se ttin g up and in con cealin g lasting relations of d om in ation , in order to understand fully th e radical difference betwr een the different m od es o f dom ination and th e different p olitical strategies for conservation characteristic o f social form ations w h ose accum ulated social energy is unequ ally objectified in m echan ism s. O n the o n e sid e there are social relations w h ich , not containing w ithin th em selves th e principle o f their own reprodu ction , m ust be kept up through n oth in g less than a process of continuous creation; on the other side, a so cia l w orld w h ich , containing w ithin itself the prin cip le of its o w n con tinu ation, frees agents from the endless work of creating or restoring social relations. T h is op p ositio n finds expression in the history or prehistory o f sociological th ou gh t. In order to "ground social being in n a tu re, as D u rk h eim puts it ,45 it has b een necessary to break w ith the p rop en sity to see it as founded on the arbitrariness o f individual w ills, or, w ith H o b b es, on the arbitrariness of a sovereign w ill: "F or H o b b e s , writes D u rk h eim , " it is an act of w ill w hich gives birth to the social order and it is a perpetually renew ed act of w ill w hich u p h old s it .* 6 And there is 4 every reason to b elieve that the break w ith th is artificialist vision, w h ich is the precond ition for scien tific ap prehension, could not be m ade before the con stitution , in reality, of objective m ech an ism s like th e self-regulating market, w h ich , as Polyani p oin ts ou t, was in trin sically co n d u civ e to b elief in determ inism . But social reality had another trap in store for scien ce: the existence o f m echan ism s capable of rep rod u cin g the political order, in d ep en dently of any deliberate intervention, m akes it p ossib le to recognize as political, am ongst the different types of con d u ct directed tow ards gaining or keeping p ow er, on ly su ch practices as tacitly exclu d e control over the reproduction m ech an ism s from the area o f legitim ate co m p etitio n . In th is w ay, social scien ce, taking for its object the sphere o f legitim ate p o litics (as so-called "political s c ie n c e d oes now adays) adopted th e p reconstructed object w hich reality fo isted upon it. T h e greater the exten t to w hich the task of reprodu cing the relations of dom ination is taken over by objective m ech an ism s, w hich serve the interests of the d om in ant group w ith ou t any co n sciou s effort on th e latters part, the more in direct and, in a sen se, im personal, b ecom e th e strategies objectively oriented tow ards reprodu ction : it is not by lavish in g gen erosity, kindness, r p oliten ess on his charw om an (or on any other " socially in ferior a gen t), but by ch oosin g th e b est in vestm en t for his m on ey, or the best school for bis so n , that the possessor of econ om ic or cultural capital perpetuates the relationship of d om in ation w hich objectively links him w ith his charw om an


Structures , habitus , p o w e r

and ev e n her d escen d an ts. O n ce a system o f m echan ism s has b een constituted cap ab le of ob jectively en su rin g the reprodu ction o f the established order by its ow n m otion (apo tou autom atou, as th e G reeks p u t it), the d om in ant class have o n ly to let the system they dom inate take its own course in order to exercise their d o m in a tio n ; but u n til su ch a system exists, they have to w ork directly d aily, p ersonally, to produce and reprodu ce con d itio n s of d om in ation which are ev e n then never en tirely tru stw orth y. B ecau se they cannot b e satisfied with ap propriating the profits of a social m ach ine w h ich has not yet developed the pow er o f self-p erp etu ation , they are ob liged to resort to the elem entary forms o f dom ination , in other w ord s, th e d irect d om in ation o f on e person by an oth er, the lim itin g case o f w hich is appropriation of persons, i.e. slavery. T h ey can n ot appropriate the labour, services, g ood s, hom age, and respect of o th ers w ith ou t " w in n in g them p ersonally, " ty in g th em - in short, creatin g a bond betw een p ersons.
T h is is why a social relationship such as that between the master and his khammes (a sort of m etayer who gets only a very small share of the crop, usually a fifth, with local variations), which might at first sight seem very close to a sim ple capital-labour relation, cannot in fact be kept up w ithout the direct application of material or sym bolic violence to the person who is to be tied . T h e master may bind his khammes by a debt w hich forces him to keep renewing h is contract until he finds a new master willing to pay off the debt to the former em ployer - in other words, indefinitely. He may also resort to brutal measures such as seizing the entire crop in order to recover his loan. But each particular relationship is the product of com plex strategies whose efficacy depends not only on the material and sym bolic strength of either party but also on their skill in arousing sym pathy or indignation so as to m obilize the group. T h e value of the relationship for the dom inator does not lie exclusively in the resultant material profits, and many masters who are not m uch richer than their khammes and would gain by cultivating their lands them selves refrain from doing so because they prefer th e prestige of possessing a "clientele . But a man who wants to be treated as a '*m aster m ust show he has the virtues corresponding to his status, and the first of these is generosity and dignity in his relations with his clien ts. T h e compact uniting the master and his khammes is an arrangement betw een one man and another guaranteed by nothing beyond the loy a lty w hich honour dem ands. It involves no abstract discipline, no rigorous contracts, and no specific sanctions. But the great '' are expected to show that they are worthy o f their rank by affording material and sym bolic protection to those dependent upon them . Here again, it is all a question of strategy, and the reason w hy the enchanted relations of the pact of honour are so frequent is that, in this econom y, the strategies of sym bolic violence are often ultim ately more econom ical than pure economic violence. Given that there is no real labour market, and that m oney is rare (and therefore dear), the best way in which the master can serve his own interests is to work away, day in, day out, with constant care and attention, weaving the ethical and affective, as w ell as econom ic, bonds which durably tie his khammes to him. reinforce the bonds of obligation, the master m ay arrange the marriage of his khammes (or his son ) and instal him, with his fam ily, in the master's own house; the children, brought up together, with the goods (the flock, fields, etc.) being ow ned in comm on, often take a long tim e to discover what their position is. It is not uncom m on for one

M odes o f domination

19 1

0f the sons of a khammes to g o and work for wages in the tow n, together with one 0f the m asters sons, and like him , bring back his savings to the master. In short, if the master wants to persuade the khammes to devote him self over a long period to the pursuit of the masters interests, he has to associate him com pletely w ith those interests, m asking the d y s s y m m e t r y 0f the relationship by sym bolically denying it in his behaviour. T h e khammes is the man to whom one entrusts ones goods, o n es house, and ones honour (as is shown by the form ula used by a master leaving to go and work in a town or in France: 'A ssociate, Im counting on you; I m g oin g off to be an associate m y self'). T h e khammes "treats the land as if he ow ned i t , because there is nothing in his m asters conduct to belie his claim to have rights over the land on which he works; and it is not unusual to hear a khammes saying, lon g after leaving his "m aster, that the sweat o f his brow entitles him to pick fruit or enter the estate. And just as he never feels entirely freed from his obligations towards his former m aster, so, after what he calls a "change of heart he may accuse his master of "treachery* in abandoning som eone he had " ad op ted .

T h u s this system con tain s only tw o w ays (and they prove in the end to be just one w ay) of g ettin g and keep in g a lasting hold over so m eo n e: gifts or d eb ts, the overtly eco n o m ic ob ligations o f d eb t, or th e " m o ra l, " affective obligations created and m aintained b y exch an ge, in sh ort, overt (physical or econom ic) v iolen ce, or sym b olic violen ce - censored, euphem ized, i.e . u n recognizable, socially recogn ized vio len ce. T h ere is an in tellig ib le relation not a con trad iction - b etw een these tw o form s o f v io len ce, w h ich coexist in the sam e social form ation and som etim es in the sam e relation ship

:47 w hen

dom ination can on ly be exercised in its elem entary form , i.e . d irectly, b etw een one person and another, it cannot take place overtly and m u st be d isguised under the veil of en ch an ted relation ship s, the official m o d el of w hich is presented b y relations b etw een kinsm en; in order to be socially recognized it m ust g et itself m isreco g n ized .4 T h e reason for the pre-capitalist eco n o m y s 8 great n eed for sym b olic violen ce is that the only w ay in w h ich relations of dom ination can b e s e t u p , m aintain ed , or restored, is through strategies w h ich , being exp ressly oriented tow ards th e estab lish m en t o f relation s of personal d ep en d en ce, m ust be d isgu ised and transfigured lest th ey d estro y th em selv es by revealing their true nature; in a w ord, th ey m ust b e euphem ized. H ence the censorship to w hich th e overt m anifestation of v iolen ce, esp ecia lly in its naked eco n om ic form , is su bjected by th e logic characteristic o f an econ om y in w hich in terests can o n ly be satisfied on con d ition that th e y be d isguised in and by th e strategies a im in g to satisfy th e m .4 It w ou ld be a m istake to 9 see a con trad iction in the fact that vio len ce is here both m ore present and m ore h id d en .50 Because th e pre-capitalist econ om y cannot cou n t on the im placable, h idden violen ce of ob jective m ech an ism s, it resorts simultaneously to form s o f d om in ation w h ich m ay strike the m odern observer as m ore brutal, m ore p rim itive, m ore barbarous, or at the sam e tim e, as gen tler, m ore hum ane, m ore resp ectful o f p erson s .51 T h is coexisten ce of o v ert physical and

19 2

Structures , habitus , p o w e r

eco n o m ic v io le n c e and of the m ost refined sy m b o lic v io len ce is foun d in a|| th e in stitu tio n s characteristic o f this ec o n o m y , and at th e heart of every soCia| rela tion sh ip : it is present b oth in th e d eb t and in th e g ift, w h ich , in spjte o f their ap paren t o p p osition , have in com m on the p o w er o f fo u n d in g either d ep en d en ce (and even slavery) or solidarity, d ep en d in g on the strategic w ith in w h ich they are d ep lo y ed . T h e fu n d am en ta l a m b ig u ity of all the in stitu tion s w h ich m odern taxon om ies ten d to present as eco n o m ic is evidence that contrary strategies, w h ich , as w e have also seen in th e case o f the masterkhammes relation sh ip , m ay coexist u nd er th e sam e n am e, are interchangeable w ays of p erform in g the sam e fu n ction , w ith the " c h o ic e b etw een overt violen ce an d gen tle, h idd en violen ce d ep en d in g on th e relative strengths of the tw o parties at a particular tim e, and on the d egree o f integration and ethical in tegrity of the arbitrating grou p . In a society in w h ich overt violence, the v io le n c e of th e usurer or th e m erciless m aster, m eets w ith collective reprobation 52 and is liable eith er to provoke a vio len t rip oste from th e victim or to force h im to flee (that is to say, in either case, in the absence o f any other recourse, to provoke the an nih ilation of th e very rela tio n sh ip w hich was in ten d ed to be ex p lo ite d ), sy m b o lic vio len ce, the g en tle, in visib le form of vio len ce, w h ich is n ever recogn ized as su ch , and is n ot so m uch undergone as ch o sen , th e violen ce o f cred it, con fid en ce, o b lig a tio n , personal loyalty, h osp itality, gifts, gratitud e, p iety - in sh ort, all the virtu es honoured by the cod e o f h on ou r - cannot fail to be seen as the m o st econ om ical m ode of d o m in ation , i.e . the m od e w h ich b est corresp ond s to th e eco n o m y of the sy stem . G en tle, h id d en exp loitation is th e form taken by m a n s exp loitation of man w h en ever o v ert, brutal exp loitation is im p ossib le. It is as false to id en tify this essen tially d u a l econ om y w ith its official reality (g en ero sity , m utual aid , etc.), i.e . the form w h ich exp loitation has to ad opt in ord er to take place, as it is to reduce it to its ob jective reality, seein g m utual aid as a corvee, the khammes as a sort of slave, and so o n . T h e gift, g en ero sity , co n sp icu o u s distribution - the extrem e

case of w h ich is the p otlatch - are op eration s o f social alchem y

w h ich m ay b e ob served w h en ever the direct ap plication of overt physical or eco n o m ic v io le n c e is n egatively san ction ed , and w h ich ten d to b rin g about th e tran sm u tation o f eco n o m ic capital in to sy m b o lic capital. W astage of m o n ey, en erg y , tim e, and in gen u ity is the very essen ce o f th e social alchem y through w h ich an in terested relation ship is tran sm u ted in to a disin terested, gratu itou s relation sh ip , overt d om in ation in to m isreco g n ized , " s o c ia lly recog n iz e d d o m in a tio n , in other w ord s, legitim ate au th o rity. T h e active prin cip le is the labour, tim e , care, atten tion , and savoir-faire w h ich m ust be s q u a n d e r e d to p rod uce a personal gift irreducible to its eq u iv a len t in m o n ey , a p r e s e n t in w hich w h at co u n ts is n ot so m uch w hat you g ive as th e w ay you g iv e it,

M odes o f domination

the s e e m in g ly " gratu itou s surrender not on ly o f g o o d s or w o m en b u t o f th in g s that are e v e n m ore personal and therefore m ore p recio u s, becau se, as the k a b y les say, th ey can " n eith er be borrow ed nor le n t , su ch as tim e - the tiine that has b een taken to do th e th in g s that " w o n t b e fo r g o tte n , becau se they are d o n e the right w ay at th e right tim e - m arks o f ap preciation, " g es tures, " k in d n e sse s, and " c o n sid e ra tio n s .53 T h e exercise of g en tle v io len ce demands a " person al price from its users. A u th o rity , charism a, grace, or,
for the K a b y les, sar, are alw ays seen as a property of the p erson. Fides, as

Benveniste p o in ts o u t, is not " tr u st b u t the fact that " th e in herent q uality of a person in spires con fid en ce in h im and is exercised in the form o f a protective au th ority over th ose w h o entrust th em selves to h im

.54T h e illusion

im plied by personal fid elity - that the ob ject is the sou rce of th e feelin g s responsible fo r the particular representation of the ob ject - is not en tirely an illu sio n ; th e " g r a c e w h ich gratitude recogn izes is in d eed , as H o b b es observes, th e recogn ition of an " antecedent gra ce .
Gentle exploitation is m uch more costly - and not only in econom ic term s - for those who practise it. " R espon sib ilities such as those of the tamen, the " spokesm an or guarantor w ho represented his group ( thakharrubth or adhrum ) at the m eetings of the m ens assem bly and on all solem n occasions, gave rise to little com petition or envy, and it w as n ot uncom m on for the m ost influential and m ost important m em bers of a group to refuse the job or soon ask to be replaced: the tasks of representation and mediation w h ich fell to the tamen did indeed demand a great deal of tim e and effort. Those on w hom the group bestow s the title "w ise m e n * or "great m e n , and w ho, in the absence of any official mandate, find them selves invested with a sort of tacit delegation of the groups authority, feel obliged (by a sense of duty towards them selves resulting from considerable self-esteem ) constantly to recall the group to the values it officially recognizes, both by their exem plary conduct and by their express utterances; if they see two w om en of their group quarrelling they feel it incum bent upon them to separate them and even to beat them (if they are w idow s or if the men responsible for them are w ithout authority) or fine them ; in cases of serious conflict between m em bers of their own clan, they feel required to recall both parties to w isdom , never an easy task and som etim es a dangerous one; in any situation liable to lead to inter-clan conflict (in cases of crim e, for exam ple) they meet together in an assembly with the m arabout so as to reconcile the antagonists; they feel it their duty to protect the interests o f the clients and the poor, to give them presents when the traditional collections are made (for the thimechret, for exam ple), to sen d them food at feast times, to assist the w idow s, to arrange marriages for the orphans, etc.

In sh ort, b ecau se the d elegation w hich is the basis o f personal authority rem ains d iffu se and is n either officially declared nor in stitu tio n a lly guaranteed, *t can o n ly b e lastin gly m aintain ed through action s w h o se co n form ity to the values recogn ized by th e grou p is a practical reaffirm ation of that a u th o rity .55 It fo llo w s that in su ch a sy stem , th e "g r e a t are th o se w h o can least afford to take lib erties w ith the official norm s, and that the p rice to be paid for their ou tsta n d in g value is ou tsta n d in g con form ity to th e valu es o f th e grou p , the


Structures , habitus, p o w e r

sou rce of all sym b olic valu e. T h e con stitu tio n of in stitu tionalized m ech a n ist^ m akes it p ossib le for a sin g le agen t (a party leader or u n ion d elegate, a member of a board o f directors, a m em b er of an acad em y, e tc .) to be entrusted with the totality of th e cap ital w h ich is the basis of th e group, and to exert over this capital, collectiv ely ow n ed b y all the " shareholders , a d elegated authority not strictly related to h is personal co n tr ib u tio n ; b u t in pre-capitalist societies each agent shares d irectly in the collective capital, sym b olized by the name of the fam ily or lin eage, to an ex ten t directly proportionate to his own co n trib u tion , i.e . exactly to the exten t that h is w ord s, d eed s, and person are a credit to th e g ro u p .55 T h e sy stem is su ch that the d om in ant agen ts have a v ested interest in virtu e; th ey can accum u late political pow er o n ly b y paying a personal price, and n ot sim p ly b y red istrib u tin g their g o o d s and money; th ey m ust have the " v ir tu e s o f their pow er because th e o n ly basis of their pow er is " v ir tu e . G en erou s co n d u ct, o f w hich the p otlatch (a curio for anthropologists) is sim p ly the extrem e ca se, m igh t se em to su spend th e universal law of interest and "fair e x c h a n g e , w h ereb y n o th in g is ever given for n o th in g , and to set up instead relation ship s w h ich are their ow n en d - con versation for conversa tion s sake (and not in order to say so m eth in g ), g iv in g for g iv in g s sake, and so o n . But in reality su ch d en ials of interest are n ever m ore than practical disclaim ers: like F reu d s Vem einung, the d iscou rse w hich says w hat it says only in a form that ten d s to sh ow that it is not sayin g it, they satisfy interest in a (d isin terested ) m ann er d esign ed to sh ow that th ey are not sa tisfy in g interest. (A parenthesis of the benefit of th e m oralists: an ab solute, i.e . ethical, justification of th e en ch an tm en t felt b y the ob server of en ch an ted social relations m ay be fo u n d in the fact that, as w ith d esire, so w ith material in terest: society cannot ask or ex p ect o f its m em bers an yth ing m ore or better than d enial, a " liftin g o f r e p r essio n w h ich , as Freud says, d oes not am ount to " an accep tance of w h at is repressed

.)57 E veryon e know s th a t " its not what

you giv e b u t the way you g ive i t that co u n ts, that w hat d istin g u ish es the g ift from m ere "fair e x c h a n g e is th e labour d ev o ted to form : the presentation, the m anner of g iv in g , m u st be su ch that the outw ard form s of th e act present a practical d en ial of th e co n ten t of th e act, sy m b olically tran sm u ting an in terested exchan ge or a sim p le pow er relation in to a relation ship set up in d u e form for fo rm s sake, i.e . inspired b y pure resp ect for th e cu sto m s and co n v en tio n s recogn ized by the grou p . (A p aren thesis for the b en efit o f the aesth etes: archaic so c ietie s d ev o te m ore tim e and effort to the form s, because in them the cen sorsh ip o f d irect exp ression of personal interest is stronger ; th ey thu s offer con n o isseu rs o f b eau tifu l form s the en ch an tin g sp ectacle of an art o f livin g raised to the level of an art for arts sake foun ded on the refusal to ack n ow led ge self-ev id en t realities su ch as th e " b u sin ess is b u s in e s s or

M odes o f dom ination


time is m o n e y on w h ich th e u n aesth etic life-style o f the harried leisure classes?* in so-called advanced so cieties is b ased .) G ood s are for g iv in g . T h e rich m an is " rich so as to be able to give to the p o o r, say the K a b y les .9 T h is is an exem plary d isclaim er: becau se g iv in g is also a w ay o f p o ssessin g (a gift w h ich is not m atched b y a cou n ter-gift creates a lastin g b ond , restrictin g the d eb to rs freedom and forcing him to adopt a p eacefu l, co-op era tive, p ru dent attitu d e); b ecau se in th e ab sen ce of any juridical guarantee, or an y coercive force, on e o f the few w ays of h o ld in g so m eon e is to keep up a lastin g asym m etrical relationship su ch as in d eb ted n ess; and becau se the on ly recogn ized , legitim ate form of p ossession is that ach ieved b y d isp o ssessin g o n eself - i.e . ob ligation , g ratitu d e, p restige, or personal loyalty. W ealth, th e ultim ate basis o f p ow er, can exert pow er, and exert it durably, on ly in th e form o f sym b olic capital; in other w ord s, econom ic capital can be accum u lated on ly in the form of sy m b o lic capital, the u n recogn izab le, and h en ce socially recogn izab le, form of the other kinds of capital. T h e ch ief is in d e ed , in M alinow sk is p hrase, a "tribal b a n k er, am assing food o n ly to lavish it on others, in order to b u ild up a capital of obligations and d eb ts w h ich w ill be repaid in th e form o f h om age, resp ect, loyalty, a n d , w hen th e op p o rtu n ity arises, w ork and services, w h ich m ay be the bases o f a n ew accu m u lation of m aterial g o o d s .6 P rocesses of circular 0 circulation, su ch as the le v y in g o f a tribute follow ed by hierarchical redistri bution, w o u ld appear absurd b u t for th e effect they have of tran sm u ting the nature of the social relation b etw een th e agents or grou p s in v o lv ed . W herever they are ob served , these consecration cycles perform the fun dam en tal operation of social a lch em y, the transform ation of arbitrary relations in to legitim ate relations, de facto d ifferen ces in to officially recogn ized d istin ctio n s. D istin c tions and lastin g associations are foun ded in th e circular circulation from w hich the legitim ation o f p ow er arises as a sy m b o lic su rp lu s valu e. If, like L evi-Strau ss, on e con sid ers o n ly the p a rticu la r case of exch an ges of m aterial and/or sy m b o lic g o o d s in te n d ed to legitim ate relations of reciprocity, on e is in danger of forgettin g that all stru ctures o f inseparably m aterial and sy m b o lic ex ch an ge (i.e . in v o lv in g both circulation and co m m u n ica tio n ) fu n c tion as id eological m ach ines w h en ever the de facto state of affairs w hich th ey tend to legitim ate by tran sform in g a co n tin g en t social relationship in to a recognized relationship is an u n eq u al balance o f pow er. T h e en d less recon version o f eco n o m ic capital in to sy m b o lic capital, at the cost of a w astage o f social en ergy w h ich is the con d ition for the perm anence of d o m in ation , cannot su cc ee d w ith ou t th e com p licity o f th e w hole grou p : the w ork o f denial w h ich is th e sou rce of social alchem y is, like m agic, a co llectiv e u nd ertak ing. A s M a\iss puts it, th e w h ole so ciety pays itself in the false coin of its dream . T h e co llectiv e m isrecogn ition w h ich is the basis of


Structures , habitus , p o w e r

the eth ic of h on ou r, a collective d enial of the eco n o m ic reality of exchange is on ly p ossib le becau se, w h en the group lies to itself in this w ay, there i$ neither d eceiver nor d eceived : th e peasant w h o treats h is khammes as an associate, becau se that is th e cu stom and becau se honour requires him to do so , d eceiv es h im self as m uch as he d eceives h is kham m est sin ce th e only form in w h ich he can serve h is interest is the eu p h em istic form presented by the eth ic of h onou r; and n oth ing su its th e khammes b etter than to play his part in an in terested fiction w h ich offers him an h onou rab le representation of his co n d ition . T h u s the m ech an ism s resp onsible for reprodu cing the appropriate h abitus are here an integral part o f an apparatus o f p rod uction w hich could not fu n ction w ith o u t th em . A g en ts lastingly " b in d each other, not only as parents and ch ild ren , but also as creditor and d eb tor, m aster and khammesf -only through th e d isp o sitio n s w h ich the grou p in cu lcates in th em and con tin u ou sly rein forces, and w h ich render unthinkable practices w h ich would appear as legitim ate and even be taken for granted in th e disenchanted eco n o m y o f "naked se lf-in te re st .61 T h e official truth p rod uced b y th e co llectiv e work o f eu p h em iza tio n , an elem entary form of the labour o f ob jectification w h ich even tu ally leads to the juridical d efinition o f accep table b eh aviour, is not sim p ly the g ro u p s means of savin g its " spiritualistic p oin t of h o n o u r ; it also has a practical efficacy, for, even if it wr ere con trad icted by ev ery o n es behaviour, like a rule to which every case p roved an excep tio n , it w ould still rem ain a true d escrip tion of su ch behaviour as is in ten d ed to b e accep table. T h e cod e of h onou r weighs on each agent w ith the w eigh t of all th e other agen ts, and the d isenchantm ent wr ich leads to the p rogressive u n v eilin g of repressed m ean ings and functions h can on ly result from a collapse of the social co n d itio n s of the cross-censorship to w h ich each agent su b m its w ith im patience b u t w hich he im p o ses on all th e oth ers .6 2 If it be true that sym b olic violen ce is the g en tle, h idd en form w hich vio len ce takes w h en overt v io le n c e is im p o ssib le, it is und erstan dab le why sy m b olic form s of d om in ation sh ou ld have p rogressively w ithered away as ob jective m ech an ism s cam e to b e con stitu ted w h ich , in rend erin g superfluous the w ork of eu p h em ization , ten d ed to p rod uce th e " d ise n c h a n te d d isp osi tio n s their d evelop m en t d em an d ed . It is eq u ally clear w h y th e progressive u n co verin g and neutralization o f the ideological and practical effects o f the m echan ism s assu ring the reprodu ction o f th e relations o f d om in ation sh ould d eterm in e a return to form s o f sym b olic v io len ce again based on d issim ulation of the m ech an ism s o f rep rod u ction through th e con version of eco n o m ic into sy m b olic capital: it is through legitim acy-giv in g red istrib u tion , public (" so c ia l p o licies) and private (fin an cin g o f " d isin ter ested fou n d ation s, grants to hospitals and to acad em ic and cultural in stitu tio n s), w hich they

M odes o f domination


make p o ssib le, that th e efficacy o f the m echan ism s of reproduction is

T o th ese form s o f legitim ate accu m u lation , through w h ich the d om in an t

groups or classes secure a capital of " c r e d it w h ich seem s to o w e n o th in g to

the logic o f ex p lo ita tio n ,63 m u st be added another form of accum u lation of sym bolic capital, the collection of lu xury goo d s attestin g th e taste and d istinction of their ow n er. T h e denial o f eco n o m y and of eco n o m ic in terest, which in pre-capitalist so cieties at first took place on a ground from w hich it had to be exp elled in order for ec on om y to be con stitu ted as su ch , thus finds its favourite refuge in th e d om ain of art and cu lture, th e site of pure con su m p tion - of m on ey, o f cou rse, b u t also o f tim e con vertible into m on ey. T h e w'orld o f art, a sacred island system atically and osten ta tio u sly op posed to the p rofane, everyday w orld of p rod u ction , a sanctuary for gratu itou s, disin terested activity in a universe g iven over to m o n ey and self-in terest, offers, like th eo lo g y in a past ep o ch , an im aginary an th rop ology ob tain ed by denial of all th e n egations really b rou ght about by the eco n o m y .

N o tes

C H A P T E R 1. T H E O B J E C T I V E L I M I T S O F O B J E C T I V I S M 1 C. Bally, L e langage et la vie (G eneva: D roz, 1965), pp. 58, 72, 102. 2 See E. D urkheim , Education et sociologie (Paris: P U F , 1968; 1st e d ., 1922), pp. 68-9; English trans. Education and Sociology (N ew York: Free Press, 1956), p. 101. 3 Consider, for exam ple, in very different fields, the petty bourgeoisie with its avid consum ption of manuals of etiquette, and all academ icism s, with their treatises on style. 4 Objectivism posits that im m ediate com m unication is possible if and only if the agents are objectively harmonized so as to associate the same m eaning with the same sign (utterance, practice, or work), or, to put it another way, so as to refer in their coding and decoding operations, i.e. in their practices and interpretations, to one and the same system of constant relations, independent of individual consciousnesses and wills and irreducible to their execution in practices or works (e.g. Saussurian "longue as code or cipher). In so doing, objectivist analysis does not, strictly speaking, contradict phenom enological analysis of primary experience of the social world and of the im mediate com prehension of the utterances, acts, or works of others. It merely defines the lim its of its validity by establishing the particular conditions within which it is possible, conditions which phenomeno logical analysis ignores. 5 See C. Levi-Strauss, " Introduction a 1'oeuvre de Marcel M au ss, in Sociologie et anthropologie (Paris: P U F , 1950), p. xxxviii. 6 Ibid. p. xxxvi. 7 Sayings w hich exalt generosity, the suprem e virtue of the man of honour, coexist with proverbs betraying the tem ptation of the spirit of calculation: "A gift is a m isfortu ne, says one of them ; and another: "A present is a hen and the recom pense is a camel." A nd, playing on the word lahna, which means both a gift and peace, and the word lahdia, meaning a gift, they say: "Y ou w ho bring us peace [a gift], leave us in p eace, or "L eave us in peace [lahna] with your gift [lahdia], o r T he best gift is p eace. [T h ese exam ples, and those which follow, draw on the au th ors fieldwork in Kabylia, Algeria. Translator.] 8 T he language of form , taken in the sense of " structure o f becoming which it has in musical theory (e.g . the suite, or sonata form ) would no doubt be more appropriate than the language of logical structure, to describe the logically but also chronologically articulated sequences of a musical com position, a dance, or any tem porally structured practice. It is significant that the only way which R Jakobson and C. L^vi-Strauss (w*Les chats de Charles Baudelaire, L Homm*> 2, 1 (Jan.-A p ril 1962), pp. 5-21) find to explain the m ovem ent from structure to form, and the experience of form , that is to say, to poetic and musical pleasure, is to invoke frustrated expectation, which objectivist analysis can describe only by bringing together in sim ultaneity, in the form of a set of them es linked by relations of logical transformation (e.g. the m ovem ent from the metaphorical form, the scientist, the lover, the cat, to m etonym ic form , the cat), the essentially [1 9 8 ]

N otes fo r pp . 9 - / 7


10 11 12

13 14



17 18

polythetic (in H usserls sense) structure of a poetic discourse which in practice is com m unicated only in and through tim e. In reality, as temporal structures, musical or poetical forms can only be understood inasmuch as they perform expressive functions of various types. " D o n t be offended at me for making this o f f e r .. . I am so thoroughly conscious of counting for nothing in your eyes, that you can even take money from me. You cant take offence at a gift from m e (see F. D ostoyevsky, The Gambler, Bobok, A N asty S tory, trans. J. Coulson (L ondon: P enguin, 1966), p. 44). M ind, S elf and Society (Chicago: U niversity of Chicago Press, 1962), pp. 42-3. R . Jakobson, Fundamentals o f Language (T h e H ague: M outon, 1956), p. 58. T hree case studies illustrating these analyses are to be found in P. Bourdieu, "T h e Sentim ent of Honour in Kabyle S o c iety , in J. Peristiany (e d .), Honour and Shame (L ondon: W eidenfeld and N icholson, 1965), pp. 191-241. G . M arcy, " L es vestiges de la parente maternelle en droit coutum ier berbere et le regime dessuccessions touraegues , Revue Africaine, no. 85 (1941), pp. 187-211. In the case of the offence w hich, unlike the sim ple challenge, is an attack on the sacred (haram) and in particular on the honour of the w om en, the room for manoeuvre is considerably reduced, the sole alternatives being the riposte which restores honour or the retreat which condem ns the offended to social death or exile. T h e qanun, a collection of custom s peculiar to each village, essentially consists of an enumeration of particular offences, followed by the corresponding fine. T h u s, for exam ple, the qanun of A gouni-n-T esellent, a village of the Ath Akbil tribe, includes, in a total of 249 articles, 219 "repressive laws (in D urkheim s sen se), i.e. 88 per cent, as against 25 "restitutory laws, i.e. 10 per cent, and only 5 articles concerning the foundations of the political system . T h e customary rule, the product of a jurisprudence directly applied to the particular case and not of the application to the particular of a universal rule, is based not on formal, rational, explicit principles but on the " se n se of honour and equity. Its essence - that is to say, the totality of the values and principles that the com m unity affirms by its very existence - remains im plicit because unquestioned and unquestionable. T h e statem ents contained in the custom s of any particular group represent only a very sm all part of the universe of possible acts of jurisprudence (and even if one adds to them the statem ents produced from the sam e principles to be found in the custom s of other groups one still has only a very lim ited idea of the full possibilities). Comparison of the quanuns of different groups (villages or tribes) brings out differences in the w eight of the punishm ent inflicted for the same offence; these differences are understandable if it is a question of the same im plicit schem es being put into practice, but would not be found if it were a matter of the application of a single explicit code expressly produced to serve as a basis for hom ogeneous and constant (i.e. predictable and calculable) acts of jurisprudence. A . Hanoteau and A . L etourneux, L a K abylie et les coutumes kabyles (Paris: Im prim erie N ationale, 1873), vl* 111> P- 33$ (m y italics). A . Hanoteau (a brigadier) and A . Letourneux (an Appeal Court Judge), who present their analysis of Kabyle custom s along the lines of the French "Code C iv il, attribute the role of judge to the village assem bly (see Hanoteau and L etourneux, L a K abylie et les coutumes kabyles, p. 2), w hile Dean M . Morand (see M. Morand, Etude de droit musulman algerien, Algiers: A . Jourdan, 1910, and "L e statut de la fem m e kabyle et la reforme des coutum es berberes, Revue des


JViotes fo r p p . 17-22



21 22



Etudes Islamiques, 1927, part 1, pp. 47-94) regards the qanun as a set of provision in the form of rules, based on conventions and contractual agreem ents. In realitv the assembly operates not as a court pronouncing judgem ent by reference to a pre-existing code, but as a council which endeavours to reconcile the adversaries points of view and persuade them to accept a com prom ise. T h is means that the functioning of the system presupposes the orchestration of habitus, since the m ediators decision can be applied only w ith the consent of the "convicted partv (w ithout w hich the plaintiff has no alternative to resorting to force) and will not be accepted unless it is consistent with the "sense of ju sticc and imposed in a manner recognized by the "sense of h on o u r. G . W. F . H egel, Reason in H istory: A General Introduction to the Philosophy of H istory, trans. with an introduction b y R . S. Hartmann (Indianapolis: B o b b s M errill, 1953), p. 3. A s is suggested by a reading of the Meno, the em ergence of institutionalized education is accompanied by a crisis in diffuse education, which goes directly from practice to practice w ithout passing through discourse. Excellence has ceased to exist once people start asking whether it can be taught, i.e. as soon as the objective confrontation of different styles of excellence makes it necessary to say what goes w ithout saying, justify what is taken for granted, make an ought-to-be and an ought-to-do out of what had up to then been regarded as the only way to be and do; hence to apprehend what had formerly seem ed to be part of the nature of things (phusei) as in fact based on the arbitrary institution of law ( nomo). T h e upholders of old-style education have no difficulty in devaluing a knowledge w hich, like that of the mathontes, bears the marks of apprenticeship; but the new masters can safely challenge the kaloi kagathoi, who are unable to bring to the level of discourse what they learned apo tou automatou, no one knows how, and possess only "insofar as they are what they are w ho, because they are what they know, do not have what they know, nor what they are. M . M erleau-Pontv, The Structure o f Behaviour, trans. Alden L . Fisher (London: M ethuen, 196$), p. 124. For exam ple, the meanings agents give to rites, m yths, or decorative motifs are m uch less stable in space, and doubtless over tim e, than the structures of the corresponding practices (see F . Boas, Anthropology and M odem L ife (N ew York: N orton, 1962; 1st ed ., 1928), pp. 164-6). S ee A . Schutz, Collected Papers. I: The Problem o f Social R eality, edited and introduced by Maurice Nathanson (T h e Hague: M artinus Nijhoff, 1962), p. 59Schutz seeks to show that the contradiction which he him self observes between what he calls the postulate of subjective interpretation and the method o f the m ost advanced sciences, such as econom ics, is only an apparent c o n tr a d ic t io n (see pp. 34-5). H . Garfinkel, Studies in Ethnomethodology, Englewood Cliffs, X . J .: P r e n t i c e - Hall,

, 967 * 25 T h u s it is the objectivist construction of the structure of the statistical c h a n c e s objectively attached to an econom ic or social condition (that of a simple* reproduction econom y, or a sub-proletariat, for exam ple) which makes it p o ss ib le to give a com plete explanation of the form of temporal experience w hich pheno* m enological analysis brings to light. 26 T h e effect of sym bolic im position w hich official representation intrinsically p r 0 " duces is overlaid by a more profound effect when sem i-learned grammar, a normative description, is made the object of teaching (differentially) d i s p e n s e d by a specific institution and becom es thereby the principle of a cultivated habitus.

N otes fo r pp . 2 2 - 2 5


T h u s, the legitim ate linguistic habitus, in a class society, presupposes objectifica tion (and, more precisely, compilation into a ''treasury and form alization by a body of grammarians) and inculcation by the family and the educational system , of the product of that objectification, grammar. In this case, as in the domain of art, and of learned culture in general, it is the sem i-learned norm which is internalized to becom e th e principle of the production and com prehension of practices and discourses. Relations to learned culture (including learned language) are objectively defined b y the degree of internalization of the linguistic norm. Broadly speaking, they range from excellence, the rule converted into a habitus capable of playing w ith the rule of the gam e, through the strict conform ity of those condem ned m erely to execute, to the dispossession of the laym an. 27 Ritual denunciation of the reassuring half-truths of legalism (to which som e may be tem pted to reduce a num ber of the analyses set out here) has doubtless played a part in discouraging any serious consideration of the relationship between practice and the rule, an d , more precisely, of the strategies em ployed in the games (and tricks) played with the rules of the gam e, which give the rule a practical efficacy quite different from the efficacy naively attributed to it by the " legalistic approach, as M alinowski termed it (B. M alinowski, Coral Gardens and Their M agic, vol. 1 (L ondon: A llen and U nw in, 1966; ist e d ., 1935), p. 379). 28 F . de Saussure, C oursde linguistiquegenerate (P aris: Pavot, i960), pp. 37-8; trans. W . Baskin as Course in G eneral Linguistics, N ew York: Philosophical Library, *95929 'N eith er is the psychological part wholly involved: the executive side is left outside, for execution is never the work of the mass; it is always individual, and the individual is always th e master of it; w e shall call it sp e ec h (ibid. p. 30; see English translation, p. 13). T h e most explicit formulation of the theory of speech as execution is doubtless found in the work of H jelm slev, wr clearly brings ho out the various d im ensions of the Saussurian opposition betw een language and speech - institution, social, " fixed , and execution, individual, non-fixed (L . H jelm slev, Essais linguistiques (C openhagen: Nordisk Sprog-og Kulturforlag, 1959), esp. p. 79). 30 T h e m ost violent opponents of the notion of "culture, such as Radcliffe-Brown, have nothing better than a naive realism to offer against the realism of the intelligible which presents "cultu re as a transcendent reality endow ed with an autonom ous existence and obeying its internal laws even in its history. T h is apart, " cu ltu re is opposed to concepts as different in their epistem ological status as society, the individual, or conduct. If wr except the rare authors who give the e notion of conduct a significance rigorously defined by the operation which sets it up in opposition to " cu ltu re (e.g. H . D . Lasswell, w ho posits that "if an act conform s to culture, then it is conduct, if not, it is b ehaviour - "Collective Autism as a C onsequence of Culture C ontact, JZeitschrift fu r Sozialforschung, 4 ( x935), PP- 232 47)> m ost users of the opposition put forward epistem ologically discordant definitions of culture or conduct, which oppose a constructed object to a preconstructed datum , leaving em pty the place of the second constructed object, nam ely practice as execution. T h u s - and this is far from being the worst exam ple - Harris op p oses "cultural patterns to "culturally patterned beha v iou rs, as respectively, "what is constructed by the anthropologist and "what mem bers of the society observe or im pose upon o th ers (M . Harris, "Review of Selected Writings of Edward Sapir, Language, Culture and Personality, Language, 27, 3 (1951), pp. 288-333). T h e imaginary dialogue on the notion of culture presented by C lyde K luckhohn and William H . K elly (see " T h e Concept


N otes fo r p p . 25 -2 7
o f Culture , in R. Linton (e d .), The Science o f Mart in the World Crisis (N ew Y o rk Columbia U niversity Press, 1945). pp. 78-105) gives a more sum mary, th o u g h livelier, picture of this debate than A. L. K roeber and C. Kluckhohn in th e ir Culture: A Critical R eview o f Concepts and Definitions (Papers of the P e a b o d v


32 33 34 35 36 37


Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, x lv i i, 1, Cambridge, M a s s .; Harvard U niversity Press, 1952). It has not escaped Leach that despite th e ir apparent opposition, Malinowski and Radcliffe- Brown at least agree in considering each " society* or each "cu ltu re (in their respective vocabularies) as a "totality made up of a number of discrete, empirical th in g s, of rather diverse kinds, e.g . groups of people, 'in stitu tion s, cu sto m s or again as "an empirical whole m ad e up of a limited number of readily identifiable parts, comparison of d if fe r e n t societies consisting of exam ining whether "the sam e kinds of parts are to be f o u n d in all cases (E . R. Leach, Rethinking Anthropology ( L o n d o n : Athlone Press, 1961), p. 6). L. J. Prieto, Principesde nodlogie, Paris: M outon, 1964; and J. C. Pariente, "Vers un nouvel esprit linguistique, Critique, April 1966, pp. 334-58. Oswald Ducrot makes the same point when he indicates that presupposition is part of language use itself and that every speech act entails assum ptions which may or may not be satisfied or accepted by the interlocutor. Bally, L e langage et la vie, p. 21. J. Van V elsen, The Politics of K in sh ip: A S tu d y in Social Manipulation among the Lakeside Tonga, Manchester: M anchester U niversity Press, 1964; n e w e d ., 1971. See M. Gluckm an, "Ethnographic Data in British Social A nthropology, Socio logical Review , 9, 1 (March 1961), pp. 5-17. E. R. Leach, "On Certain U nconsidered A spects of D ouble D escent System s. M an, 62 (1962), p. 133. Van Velsen, The Politics o f K inship, p. xxvi. D espite this point of disagreement, Van V elsen s analyses are essentially consistent with my own analysis of the strategic uses made of kin relations (w hich I wrote before The Politics of Kinship came to my notice): cf., for exam ple, on pp. 73 4; the selection of "practical kinsmen among the nominal kinsmen; on p. 182. matrilineal descent seen as a privileged rationalization of action in fact determined by other factors, and the function of the idealization of cross-cousin marriage as "a means of counteracting the fissiparous tendencies in the marriage and thus the village. In a typical statement of a highly ecelectic philosophy, Levi-Strauss explicitly evacuates individual and collective history (and everything covered by the concept of the habitus) by establishing a direct, unm ediated identity between the mind and nature: "As the mind too is a thing, the functioning of this thing teaches us som ething about the nature of things: even pure reflexion is in the last analysis an internalization o f the cosmos'* (C . Levi-Strauss, The Savage M ind (London: W eidenfeld and N icolson, 1966), p. 248; my italics to em phasize the oscillation, in the same sentence, between two contradictory explanations of the declared identity of the mind and nature, first an essential identity - the m ind is a thing - then identity acquired through learning - internalization of the cosm os - two theses which merge in the ambiguity of another formulation - "an image of the wr orld inscribed in the architecture of the m in d : L e cru et le cuit (Paris: Plon, 1964), p. 346). Beneath its airs of radical materialism , this philosophy of mind returns to a form of idealism affirming the universality and eternity of the logical categories, while ignoring the dialectic of the social structures and structured, structuring dispositions - or, in a more eighteenth-century language, of mind and

N otes fo r p p . 2 7 -2 9





42 43 44 45 46 47

48 49


nature - w ithin which the schem es of thought are formed and transformed, and in particular the logical categories, principles of division which through the intermediary of the principles of the division o f labour, correspond to the structure of the social world and not the natural world. E. D urkheim , Les regies de la methode sociologique, 18th ed. (Paris: P U F , 1973; ist ed ., A lcan, 1895), P- 9'. English translation, The Rules of Sociological Method (N ew York: Free Press, 1964), p. 7. T he hypnotic power of the notion of the unconscious has the effect of blotting out the question of the relationship between the practice-generating schem es and the representations - them selves more or less sanctioned by the collectivity they give of their practice to them selves or others. It thereby discourages analysis of the theoretical or practical alterations that the various forms of discourse about practice impose on practice. * A person w h o knows a language has represented in his brain some very abstract ' system of underlying structures along with an abstract system of rules that determ ine, by free iteration, an infinite range of sound-m eaning correspon d en ce (see N . Chomsky, 'General Properties of L anguage, in I. L. Darley (ed .) Brain iMechanism Underlying Speech and Language (N ew York and London: Grune and Straton, 1967), pp. 73 88). C. Levi-Strauss, The Elementary Structures of K inship, rev. ed. (L ondon: Social Science Paperbacks, 1969), p. 33 (m y italics). Ibid. Levi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology (L ondon: Allen Lane, 1968), p. 34. Elementary Structures, p. 32. Ibid. It is an unwarranted transfer of the same type w hich, according to M erleau-Ponty, engenders the intellectualist and empiricist errors in psychology (see The Struc ture of Behaviour, esp. pp. 114 and 124). L . W ittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (O xford: Blackwell, 1963), pp. 38-9. If it is the case that making practice explicit subjects it to an essential alteration, by speaking o f what goes without saying or by naming regularities by definition unremarked, it follows that any scientific objectification ought to be preceded by a sign indicating*'everything takes place as i f . . . , w hich, functioning in the same way as quantifiers in logic, w ould constantly remind us of the epistem ological status of the constructed concepts of objective science. Everything conspires to encourage the reifying of concepts and of theoretical constructs, starting with the logic of ordinary language, w hich inclines us to infer the substance from the substantive or to confer on concepts the power to act in history as the words designating them act in the sentences of historical discourse, i.e. as historical subjects. It is clear what theoretical (and political) effects arise from the personifi cation of collectives (in sentences like "the bourgeoisie thinks t h a t .. . or 'th e working class refuses to accept. . . ), which leads, as surely as D urkheim s pro fessions of faith, to postulating the existence of a group or class ''collective consciousness : by crediting groups or institutions with dispositions which can be constituted only in individual consciousnesses, even when they are the product of collective conditions such as the awakening of awareness [prise de conscience) of class interests, one gets out of having to analyse these conditions, in particular those determi ning the degree of objective and subjective hom ogeneity of the group in question and the degree of consciousness of its members. P. Ziff, Semantic Analysis (N ew York: Cornell U niversity Press, i960), p. 38.


N otes f o r p p . 2 Q -31

51 W. V. Quine, " M ethodological Reflections on Current Linguistic T h eo r y , jn D . Harman and G . Davidson (ed s.), Semantics o f N atural Language (DordrechtReidel, 1972), pp. 442-S 4 52 L. W ittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-philosophicus, 2nd ed. (L ondon: Routledgeand Kegan Paul, 1971), p. 49. 53 For another application of the analyses in section I. see P. Bourdieu, "Marriage Strategies as Strategies of Social Reproduction , in R. Forster and O. R a n u m (ed s.), Family and Society: Selections from the Annales (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U niversity Press. 1976), pp. 117-44. 54 T h e research leading up this study was carried out with other projects between i960 and 1970. In the context of an analysis of econom ic and social structures carried out first in various villages in Kabvlia, then in the Collo region, and finally in the Chelif valley and Ouarsenis, I collected genealogies which attempted to situate in a rough way the relative econom ic positions of groups brought together by marriage. Statistical analysis of these genealogies, carried out between 1962 and 1964, established certain extrem ely obvious relationships such as the higher rate of endogamy am ong marabout families or the dyssym m etry of matrimonial exchanges betw een groups separated by econom ic inequalities. But it was impos sible not to feel the artificial and abstract nature of the distributions and groupings which it was necessary to carry out in order to calculate rates of parallel-cousin marriage. H aving abandoned the study of genealogies, which had yielded only negative information, for the analysis of ritual, I soon realized that the variations observable in the unfolding of sequences of ritual actions, which I had initially been led to treat as sim ple "variants, corresponded, in the case of marriage, to unions which were structurally and functionally different, the ritual deployed in full for marriages between great fam ilies from different tribes being reduced to its simplest form for marriage between parallel cousins: thus each marriage (and each form which the rite takes) appeared as a m om ent of a strategy the principle of which lies in objective conditions of a particular type and not in a norm explicitly posited and obeyed, or in an unconscious " m o d el. So it was not possible to give an account of matrimonial exchanges unless, in addition to the purely genealogical relationship between the spouses, one established the objective relationship betw een the positions in the social structure of the groups brought together by the marriage, the history of the econom ic and sym bolic exchanges which had occurred betw een them , and the state of those transactions at the mom ent when matrimonial negotiation was undertaken, the history of that negotiation, the m om ent at which it took place in the lives of the spouses (childhood or adolescence), its length, the agents responsible for it, t h e exchanges to which it gave rise, and in particular the value of the bridewealth, etc. In other words, the study of matrimonial exchanges cannot be separated from the fam ilies econom ic and social history, of which a genealogical diagram gives only a skeleton. T h is is w'hv I undertook to reconstitute a fam ilys social history, without really being able to com plete the task, which would in fact be interminable: this w'ork, which made it possible to measure in concrete terms all that the ordinary genealogist neglects, also provided most of the illustrations for the theoretical analyses set out here. 55 See Claude Levi-Strauss, " L e problem e des relations de parente, in J. Berque (ed .), Systemes de parente (C ontributions to the interdisciplinary confercnce on M oslem societies; Paris, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, 1959), pp. 13-14* 56 Introduction a deux theories d anthropologie sociale (Paris: M outon, 1971), p. 11957 R. N eedham , " T h e Formal A nalysis of Prescriptive Patrilateral Cross-cousin Marriage, Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 14 (1958), pp. 199-219.

N otes jo r pp . 31-33


;8 On the deductive relationship between kinship term inology and kinship attitudes, see A . R. RadclifTe-Brown, Structure and Function in Prim itive Society (L ondon: Cohen and W est, 1952), p. 62, and African Systems o f K inship and Marriage (L ondon: Oxford U niversity Press, i960), introduction, p. 25; Levi-Slrauss, Structural Anthropology, p . 38. On the term ju ral and the use which RadcliffeBrown makes of it, see D um ont, Introduction a deux theories, p. 41: "jural relationships are those "which are subject to precise, binding prescriptions, w hether concerning people or th in gs. 59 "Principles of Social Organization in Southern K urdistan, Universitetets Ethnografiske Museum Bulletin, no. 7, Oslo, 1953. 60 R. F . M urphy and L . Kasdan, "T he Structure of Parallel Cousin M arriage, American Anthropologist, 61 (February 1959), pp. 17-29. 61 T he majority of earlier investigators accepted the native explanation that endoga m ous marriage had the function of keeping the property in the fam ily, advancing as evidence - and w ith som e reason - the closeness of the relationship between marriage and inheritance practices. Against this explanation Murphy and Kasdan very rightly object that the Koranic law which gives to a woman half of a so n s share is rarely observed, and that the fam ily can in any case count on the inheritance contributed by in-marrying w om en (H . G ranqvist, " Marriage Con ditions in a Palestinian V illage, Commentationes Humanarum, Societas Scientiarium Fennica 3 (1931); H . Rosenfield, "An Analysis of Marriage Statistics for a M oslem and Christian Arab V illage, International Archives o f Ethnography, 48 ( i 957)> PP- 32-62)62 Both these theories accept an undifferentiated definition of function, which reduces it to the function for the group as a whole. For exam ple, Murphy and Kasdan write, " Most explanations of patrilateral parallel cousin marriage are of a causal-motivational kind, in which the institution is explained through reference to the consciously felt goals of the individual role players. We have not attempted to explain the origin of the custom in this paper but have taken it as a given factor and then proceeded to analyze its function, i.e. its operation within Bedouin social structure. It was found that parallel cousin marriage contributes to the extrem e fission of agnatic lines in Arab society, and, through in-marriage, encysts the patrilineal segm en ts ("Structure of Parallel C ousin M arriage, p. 27). 63 J. Cuisenier, "Endogam ie et exogamie dans le mariage arabe, L Homme, 2, 2 (M av-A ugust 1962), pp. 80-105. 64 " It has long been knowr that societies which advocate marriage betw een certain n types of kin adhere to the norm only in a small number of cases, as demonstrated by Kunstadter and his team through the use of computer sim ulations. Fertility and reproduction rates, the demographic balance of the sexes and the age pyramid never show the perfect harmony necessary for every individual, when the tim e com es for him to marry, to be assured of finding a suitable spouse in the prescribed degree, even if the kinship nomenclature is broad enough to confuse degrees of the same type but unequally distant, often so much so that the notion of a com m on descent becom es m erely theoretical (Levi-Strauss, Elementary Structures o f Kinship, p. xxx). 65 T he calculation of "rates of endogam y by genealogical level, an unreal intersec tion of abstract "categories, leads one to treat as identical, by a second-order abstraction, individuals w ho, although on the same level of the genealogical tree, may be of widely differing ages and w hose marriages for this very reason may have been arranged in different circum stances corresponding to different states of the matrimonial market. Or, conversely, it may lead one to treat genealogically


N o tes f o r p p . 3 3 - 3 6 separate but chronologically sim ultaneous marriages as different - it being pos. sible, for exam ple, for a man to marry at the same time as one of his uncles. "Som e Structural Aspects of the Feud among the Cam el-herding Bedouin of C yrenaica, A frica, 37, 3 (July 1967), pp. 261-82. Murphy was saying the same thing but without drawing conclusions when he remarked that genealogies and the manipulation of genealogies have as their main function the encouragement of the vertical integration of social units which parallel-cousin marriage tends to divide and close in upon them selves. T h e most rigorously checked genealogies do indeed contain system atic lacunae: since the strength of the group's m em ory of an individual depends on the value they attach to him or her at the m om ent of data-collecting, genealogies are better at recording men (and m en s marriages), especially w hen they have produced many male descendants, than at recording w om en (except, of course, when the latter married within the lin ea g e); they record close marriages better than distant marriages, single marriages rather than much-married individuals com plete series of marriages (polygam y ; m ultiple marriages after divorce or the partners death). And there is every reason to believe that entire lineages may be left unmentioned by informant* w hen the last representative has died without leaving any descen dants or (which am ounts to the same thing) without male descendants. It is as instruments of knowledge and cbnstruction of the social world that kinship structures fulfil a political function (in the same way as religion and all other ideologies). What are term s of address and reference, if not categories of kinship, in the etym ological sense of collective, public im putations? (Kategoreisthai: to accuse publicly, to im pute a thing to som eone in front of everyone). The constituting power of these designations, pregnant with a universe of prescriptions and taboos, is brought hom e when one considers all that is contained in a phrase like " S h es your sister - a n im perative declaration which is the sole practical statem ent of the incest taboo. But, though every social relationship is organized in terms of a representation of the social universe, structured in accordance with kinship categories, it would be naive to suppose that social practices, even in relationships with kinsm en, are im plied in their genealogical definition. T h e error is that of all academ icism s, which subject the production to the rules they have retrospectively derived from the product. A new-born child is not normally given the name of a living relative; this is avoided, because it would mean "bringing him back to life before he was dead, thereby throwing dow n an insulting challenge, and, worse, casting a curse on h im ; this is true even when the breakup of the undivided patrimony is consecrated by a formal sharing out or when the family splits up on m oving to the city or emigrating to France. A father cannot give his son his own first name, and when a son does bear his fathers name it is because the father died 'leaving him in his m others w o m b . But, here as elsewhere, there is no lack of subterfuges and loopholes. Som etim es the name the child was first given is changed so as to give him a name made available by the death of his father or grandfather (the original name is then reserved for private use, by his mother and the women of the fam ily). Som etim es the same first name is given in slightly different form s to several children, with an elem ent added or suppressed (e.g . M ohand Ourabah instead of Rabah, and vice versa ; Akli instead of Mohand Akli, and vice versa) or with a slight alteration (Beza instead of Mohand A m eziane, Hamimi or Dahmane instead of Ahmed, Ouali or Alilou instead of Ali, or again, Seghir or Mohand Seghir - arabicized forms - instead of Meziane or Mohand A m eziane). Similarly, although giving a child the same name as his elder brother is avoided, certain




69 70

N o tes f o r p p . 3 8 -4 3




73 74


associations of names w hich are very close to one another or derived from the sam e name are much appreciated (Ahc&ne and E lhocine, A hm ed and M ohamed, Seghir or Meziane and M oqrane, e tc .), especially if one of them is the name of an ancestor. Sincc the more integrated the fam ily is, the greater the range of unusable first-names, the choice of first names actually made gives an indication of the "strength of feelin g in the lineage. T h e sam e nam e, or whole series com posed of the same names, may coexist in a genealogy, running down parallel lin e s: the more remote the com m on origin (or the weaker the unity between the sub-groups), the more it seem s legitim ate to use the sam e names, thus perpetuating the m em ory of the same ancestors in increasingly autonom ous lineages. T o make com pletely explicit the im plicit demand which lies behind genealogical inquiry, as it lies behind all inquiries, one would first have to study the social history of the genealogical tool, paying particular attention to the functions w hich, in the traditions of w hich anthropologists are the product, have produced and reproduced the need for this instrument, viz. the problem s of inheritance and succession. T h is social genealogy of genealogy would have to extend into a social history of the relationship between the " scien tific uses and the social uses of the instrum ent. But the m ost im portant thing would be to carry ou t an epistem ological study of the mode of investigation which is the precondition for production of the genealogical diagram. T h is would aim to determ ine the full significance of the ontological transmutation which learned inquiry brings about sim ply by virtue of the fact that it dem ands a quasi-theoretical relation to kinship, im plying a break with the practical relation directly oriented towards functions. U nder the network of genealogical relationships is dissim ulated the network of practical relationships, which are the product of the history of the econom ic and sym bolic exchanges. It can be shown in a particular case (P . Bourdieu, Esquisse d une theorie de la pratique, precede de trois etudes d ethnologie kabyle (Paris and Geneva: Librairie D roz, 1972), pp. 85-8) that the agents organize their practice in relation to the useful divisions, finding in the genealogical representation an instrum ent of legitim ation. D um on t, Introduction a deux theories d anthropologie sociale, pp. 122-3. T he ritualization of violence in fighting is doubtless one of the most typical manifestations of the dialectic of strategy and ritual: although the battles were alm ost always motivated by harm done to econom ic or sym bolic interests - the theft of an animal or an insult to mem bers of the group, e.g . the shepherds their lim its were set by the ritualized m odel of the war of honour, which applied even more strictly in the seasonal gam es, also endow ed with a ritual function, such as the ball games played in autumn and spring (see Bourdieu, Esquisse, pp. 21-3). It is possible to understand in term s of this logic, i.e. as the sym bolic manipulation of violence aimed at resolving the tensions arising from contact between alien and som etim es traditionally hostile groups, all the particu larly strict rites to w hich marriage between distant groups gives rise. Rules and ritual becom e increasingly necessary as it ceases to be possible to count on the autom atic orchestration of practices that is ensured by hom ogeneity of habitus and interests (w hich explains, in a general w ay, why the ritualization of inter actions rises with the distance between the individuals or groups and hence with the size of the groups). T h u s, the seem ingly most ritualized acts in the marriage negotiation and in the ceremonials accom panying the wedding - which by their degree of solem nity have the secondary function of declaring the social significance of the marriage (the


N otes fo r p p . 4 4 -4 7 solem nity of the cerem ony tending to rise with the families' position in the social hierarchy and with the genealogical distance betw een them ) - constitute so many opportunities to deploy strategies aimed at manipulating the objective meaning of a relationship which is never entirely unequivocal, whether by choosing the inevitable and - making a virtue of necessity - scrupulously conform ing to the proprieties, or by disguising the objective significance of the marriage under the ritual intended to celebrate it. T h is explains in part the early age of marriage; the unmarried girl is the very incarnation of the groups vulnerability; the straightest of them is twisted as a sick le, says the proverb. So the fathers ch ief concern is to get rid of this danger as quickly as possible by putting her under the protection of another man. J. Chelhod, who reports th a t in the low language of A leppo, prostitutes are called 'daughters of the maternal a u n t, also quotes a Syrian proverb which expresses the same disapproval of marriage with the m others sisters daughter: Because of his impure character, he married his maternal aunts daughter ( * Le mariage avec la cousine parallele dans le system e arabe , L Homme, 4, 3-4 (July-D ecem ber 1964), pp. 113-73). Similarly, in Kabylia, to express the total lack of any genea logical relationship, men will say, What are you to me? N ot even the son of the daughter of my m others sister [mis Mis kh alti]. An indirect confirmation of the meaning given to marriage betw een parallel cousins may be seen in the fact that the person responsible for the solemn opening of the ploughing, the action hom ologous with inaugural marriage, had no political role to play and that his duties w ere purely honorary, or, one might say, symbolic, i.e. at once undem anding and respected. T h is 6ara/ui-endowed person is referred to by the names am ezw ar (the first), aneflus (the man of trust) or aqdhim (the elder), amghar (the old m an), amas'ud (the man of luck), or, more precisely, am ezw ar, aneflus, amghar nat-yuga (the first, the man of trust, the old man of the team of oxen or of the plough). T he most significant term, because it explicitly states the ploughing-m arriage homology manifested by countless other indications, is unquestionably boula'ras (the man of the w edding). T h e same connotation is found in another designation - mefthah n ss'ad (the key of good luck, he who opens) (see E. Laoust, Mots et choses berberes: notes de linguistique et d ethnographie, Paris: Challamel, 1920). You must marry your paternal uncle's daughter, even if she has fallen into neglect. And various other proverbs point in the same direction: "Turn with the road if it turns. Marry the daughter of your 'amm if she has been abandoned [is lying fallow ] ; " T h e daughter of your r amm even if she has been abandoned; the road of peace even if it tw ists. A s the metaphor show s (the twisted road as opposed to the straight way), parallel-cousin marriage (like marriage to a brothers widow) is seen more than often not as a forced sacrifice which it is desirable to turn into a voluntary subm ission to the call of honour. If you do not marry the daughter of your amm, w ho will take her? You are the one who must take her, whether you want to or n o t. Even if she be ugly and worthless, her paternal uncle is expected to take her for his son; if h e seeks a wife for his son elsewhere, people will laugh at him , and say: *He has gon e and found a stranger for his son, and left his brothers daughter. But here, too, every sort of com prom ise and, of course, strategy, is to be found: although in the case of land, the best-placed relative may be aware that more distant kin would willingly steal a march on him and win the sym bolic and material advantage accruing from such a meritorious purchase, or, in the case of the vengeance of honour, that a rival avenger is ready to step in and take over






N otes fo r p p . 4 9 -5 3




83 84


the revenge and the ensuing honour, nothing similar occurs in the case of marriage, and there may be many ways of backing out: som etim es the son takes flight, with his parents connivance, thereby providing them with the only acceptable excuse that a brother can be given. Short of this extrem e solution, it is not uncom m on for the obligation to marrv left-over daughters to devolve upon the "poor relations*, w ho are bound by all sorts of " obligations* to the richer m em bers of the group. And there is no better proof of the ideological function of marriage to the parallel cousin (or to any female cousin in the paternal lineage, however distant) than the use that may be made, in such cases, of the exalted representation of this ideal marriage. Physical and mental infirmity presents an extrem ely difficult problem for a group which rigorously denies social status to a woman without a husband or even to a man w ithout a wife (even a widower is obliged to rush into a new marriage). All the more so when these infirmities are seen and interpreted through the mythico-ritual categories: one can imagine the sacrifice it represents - in a u n i verse in w hich a w ife can be repudiated because she has a reputation for bringing bad luck - to marry a woman who is left-handed, half-blind, lame, or hunchbacked (this deform ity representing an inversion of pregnancy) or who is sim ply sick and weak, all om ens of barrenness and wickedness. "You give w heat, but take barley. "You give wheat to bad teeth. "Make your offspring out o f clay ; if you d on t get a cooking pot you will get a couscous d ish . A m ong the eulogies of parallel-cousin marriage I have collected, the follow ing are typical: "Sh e will not ask you for m uch for herself, and there will be no need to spend a great deal on the w ed d in g. " H e may do what he will with his brothers daughter and no evil will com e from her. Thereafter he will live in greater unity with his brother, doing as their father recomm ended for the sake of brotherhood [thaymats]: 'D o not listen to your w om en! " T h e woman who is a stranger w ill despise you, she will be an insult to your ancestors, believing that hers are more noble than yours. Whereas w ith the daughter of your 'amm, your grandfather and hers are one; she will never say 'a curse on your fathers father. T h e daughter of your 'amm will not abandon you. If you have no tea she will not dem and any from you, and even if she should die of hunger in your house, she w ill bear it all and never complain about y o u . A . Hanoteau, Poesies populaires de la K abylie du D jurdjura (Paris: Imprimerie Imperiale, 1867), p. 475. Jurists fascination with what survives of matrilineal kinship has led them to take an interest in the case of the aw rith, which they see, to use their own term inology, as a "contract for the adoption of an adult m a le (for Algeria, see G . H . Bousquet, " N o te sur le mariage mechrouth dans la region de G ouraya, Revue Algerienne, January-Februarv 1934, pp. 9 -1 1, and L. Lefevre, Recherches sur la condition de la femme kabyle, Algiers: Carbonel, 1939; for M orocco, G . M arcy, "Le mariage en droit coutum ier zem m ou r, Revue Algerienne, Tunisienne et Marocaine de Legislation et Jurisprudence, July 1930, and "L es vestiges de la parente maternelle en droit coutum ier berbere, Revue Africaine, no. 85 (1941), pp. 187-211: Capitaine Bendaoud, " L adoption des adultes par contrat mixte de mariage et de travail chez les Beni M g u ild , Revue Marocaine de Legislation, Doctrine, Jurisprudence Cherifiennes, no. 2 (1935), pp. 34-40; Capitaine T u rb et, " L adoption des adultes chez les Ighezrane, ibid. p. 40, and no. 3 (1935), p. 41). For exam ple, in a large family in the village of Aghbala in Lesser Kabylia, of 218 male marriages (each mans first) 34% were with fam ilies outside the lim its of the tribe; only 8 % , those with the spatially and socially m ost distant groups,

2 10

N otes f o r p p . 5 5 -5 4 present all the features of prestige marriages: they are all the work of one family which wants to distinguish itself from the other lineages by original matrimonial practices. T he other distant marriages (26% ) merely renew established relation ships (relationships "through the w o m en or "through the maternal uncles , constantly maintained on the occasion of marriages, departures and returns, funerals and som etim es even large work projects). T w o thirds of the marriages (66% ) were made within the tribe (m ade up of nine villages): apart from marriages with the opposing clan, which are very rare (4% ) and always have a political significance (especially for the older generations) on account of the traditional antagonism betw een the two groups, all the other unions fall within the class of ordinary marriages. Only 6 % of the marriages were made w ithin the lineage (as against 17% in the other lineages and 39% in the field of practical relationships): 4% with the parallel cousin and 2% with another cousin (and it must be added that in tw o-thirds of these cases the fam ilies w hich make this marriage have abandoned undivided ow nership). T h e follow ing testim ony is particularly significant: "As soon as her first son was born, Fatima set about finding his future wife. She never missed an opportunity - she kept her eyes open on all occasions, in her neighbours houses, among her own fam ily, in the village, when visiting friends, at w eddings, on pilgrimages, at the fountain, far from hom e, and even when she had to go and present her condolences. In this way she married off all her children w ithout difficulty and almost without noticing it (Yam ina Ait Amar Ou Said, Le manage en Kabyhe (Fichier de D ocum entation Berbere), i960, p. 10). As I have shown elsewhere (cf. Esquisse, pp. 110-12), the frequency and solemnity of ritual acts increase as one m oves from marriages contracted within the un divided family or practical kinship, through marriages within close and then distant practical relationships, and finally to extra-ordinary marriages. Everything takes place as if extra-ordinary marriages gave us the opportunity to grasp in its achieved form a ceremonial which is reduced to its sim plest expression when the marriage is situated in the ordinary universe. If we leave aside the mythical idealization (blood, purity, the inside) and ethical exaltation (honour, virtue, etc.) surrounding purely agnatic marriage, we find that these ordinary' marriages are described no differently from parallel-cousin marriage. For exam ple, marriage with the fathers sisters daughter is regarded, like marriage with the parallel cousin, as capable of securing agreement among the w om en and the w ifes respect for her husbands relatives (her khal and her khalt) at the lowest cost, since the tension resulting from the rivalry implicitly triggered off by any marriage betw een different groups over the status and living conditions offered to the young wife has no reason to occur at this degree of familiarity. T hese extra-ordinary marriages are not subject to the constraints and proprieties which apply to ordinary marriages (partly because they have no " seq u el) : apart from the cases in which the defeated group (clan or tribe) w ould give the victorious group a w om an, or, to show that there was neither winner nor loser, the tw o groups exchanged w om en, it also som etim es happened that the victorious group would give the other group a woman without taking anything in return, but then the marriage took place not between the most powerful fam ilies, but between families asymmetrically situated: a small family in the victorious group gave a woman to a great family in the other group. T h e victorious group intended to show , by the very inequality of the union, that the least of its ow n members was superior to the greatest of its opponents.

* 86




Notes f o r p p . 5 4 -6 2

2 11

90 "Marriage afar is e x ile (a z w a j lab'adh d anfi): "Marriage outside, marriage into e x ile (a z w a j ibarra, azw ajelgh u rba), a m other often says when her daughter has been given to another group in which she has no acquaintances ( thamusni) and not even distant kin (arriha, a scent - of her native land). It is also the song of the wife who has been married into exile: "O m ountain, open your door to the exile. Let her see her native land. Foreign soil is the sister of death, for man as for w om an . 91 T h e generalization of monetary exchanges and of the associated calculative disp o sitions has brought about a decline of this tradition (w hich was kept up longer in more profane exchanges such as the sale of a yoke of oxen) by destroying the am biguities which characterized it and reducing it to a sham eful and ridiculous haggling over the am ount of the bridewealth. 92 In such a system , the failures of the reproduction m echanism s - matrimonial misalliance, sterility leading to disappearance of the lineage, the break-up of undivided ownership - are undoubtedly the principal factors responsible for trans form ations of the econom ic and social hierarchy. 93 T h e countless chikayat, som e of which com e before the courts, are motivated not by a spirit of " q u ib b lin g but by the intent of throwing down or taking up a challen ge: the sam e is true of the (very rare) lawsuits which have been conducted in the hope of obtaining the annulm ent of a land sale in the name of the right of pre-em ption. 94 T h e sim ple challenge to the point of honour ( thirzi nennif, the act of challenging; sennif"by nif, I challenge you! I dare you! ) is not the sam e thing as the offence w hich calls hurma into question. There is derision for the attitude of the nouveau riche w ho, ignorant of the rules of honour and attem pting to redress a slur upon hurma, riposted by challenging his offender to beat him in a race or to lay out more thousand-franc notes. H e was confusing two totally different orders, the order of the challenge and the order of the offence which involves the most sacred values. An attack on hurma tends to exclude evasions and settlem ents such as dtya, com pensation paid to the victim family by the m urderers fam ily. O f the man s w ho accepts, people say, " H es a man w h os agreed to eat his brothers blood; for him , only the belly co u n ts. In the case of a slur upon hurma, albeit indirectly or thoughtlessly, the pressure of opinion is such as to rule out any outcom e other than vengeance: if vengeance is not forthcom ing, the coward lacking in nif can only choose between dishonour and exile. 95 H onour in the sense of esteem is term ed sar: essar is the secret, prestige, radiance, " glory, "presence. It is said of a man that " essar follow s him and shines about h im , or that he is protected by "the fence of essar (zarb nessar) : the holder of essar is exem pt from challenge and the w ould-be offender is paralysed by its m ysterious influence, by the fear (alhiba) it inspires. T o put a man to sham e is "to take away his essar (or " to take away his lah ya, resp ect): essar, the indefinable attribute of the man of honour, is as fragile and vulnerable as it is im ponderable. " T h e burnous of essar, say the K abyles, "lies lightly on a m ans shoulders. 96 A nd indeed the customary laws, which all, w ithout exception, provide for sanctions against the person who murders the man from whom he is to inherit, are evidence that overt conflicts were freq u en t: " If a man kills a relative (w hose heir he is) unjustly and so as to inherit from him , the djemaa shall take all the murderers g o o d s (qanun of the Iouadhien tribe, reported in Hanoteau and Letourneux, L a K abylie et les coutumes kabyles, vol. in , p. 432; see also pp. 356, 358, 368, etc.).


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97 Here is just one typical testim ony relating to the breaking up of undivided ownership: "You cant find two brothers w ho live together (za d d i) now , still less we w ho are not sprung from the same w om b. I swear that I can't even remember what relation I am to dadda Braham. Sooner or later its bound to happen, and everyone in his heart wants it to , everyone thinks he does too much for the others *If I only had my w ife and children, I w ouldnt have to work so hard or *I would have reached the "divine throne" [the seventh h eaven ]. O nce people start thinking like that, there's nothing for it, its all over. Its like a canker. T h e women already thought that way, and when the men join in and start saying the same things, its finished. T h a ts what all the w om en want; they are the enem ies of za d d i, because the devil is in them : they do all they can to contam inate the men. With their determ ination, they never fail. 98 T he weakening of the cohesive forces (correlative with the slum p in symbolic values) and the strengthening of the disruptive forces (linked to the appearance of sources of monetary incom e and to the ensuing crisis of the peasant economv) lead to refusal of the elders authority and of the austere, frugal aspects of peasant existence; the younger generation demand the right to dispose of the profit of their labour, in order to spend it on consum er goods rather than on the svmbolic goods which would increase the fam ilys prestige and influence. "In the past, no one dared to ask for the heritage to be broken up. T here was the authority of the elders. If anyone had tried, h ed have been beaten, cast out, and cursed: He is a cause of bankruptcy \lakhla ukham, the fallow of the h o u se]. *He wants it all shared out [itsabib ibbatu] : the elders refuse to 'give him the share-out . Now everybody insists on their rights. Once it was 'eat your piece of wheatcake and keep q uiet: once, being head of the fam ily, goin g to market, sitting in thajma'th, meant som ething. N ow , everyone knows that w idow s houses are more prosperous than those of men [of honour]. 'T h o se w ho were children only yesterday want to run things n o w ! 99 W ithout speculating as to the causal link between these facts, it may be noted that " illnesses of acute jealousy (atan an-tsismin thissamamin, the sickness of bitter jealousy) receive great attention from relatives, especially mothers, w ho wield a whole arsenal of curative and prophylactic rites (to suggest an insurmountable hatred, reference is made to the feeling of the little boy w ho, suddenly deprived of his m others affection by the arrival of a new baby, grew thin and pale like som eone moribund, am'ut, or " con stip ated , bubran). 100 It is significant that customary law, which only exceptionally intervenes in dom estic life, explicitly favours undivided ownership ( thidukli bukham or z a d d i): "People living in a family association pay no fine if they fight. If they separate, they pay like other p eo p le (Hanoteau and Letourneux, L a K abylie, vol. in , p423)101 A female informant gives a typical account of how this sort of marriage is arranged: "Before he had leant to walk, his father found him a bride. One evening, after supper, Arab went to call on his elder brother (dadda). They chatted. His brothers w ife had her daughter on her lap; the little girl s t r e t c h e d out her arms towards her uncle, w ho picked her up, saying 'M ay G od make her Idirs wife! T h ats so, isn t it, da d d a ? You w on t say no? *Arabs brother replied: What does a blind man want? Light! If you relieve me of the care she gives m e, may God take your cares from you. I give her to you, with her grain and her chaff, for n o th in g ! (Y am ina Ait Amar Ou Said, L e m anage en K a b ylie, p. 10). 102 A s J. Chelhod rightly points out, all observations confirm that the tendency to

N otes [or pp. 65-70

marry endogam ously, which is more marked in nomadic tribes in a constant state of war than in settled tribes, tends to reappear or to be accentuated when there are threats of war or conflict ("L e mariage avec la cousine parallele dans le system e arabe, pp. 113-73). T hose w ho perpetuate undivided ownership - or the appearances of it - often invoke the danger of separating so long as rival fam ilies remain united. It follow s from this axiom that the dom inant are functionalists, because function so defined - that is, in the sense of the structural-functionalist school - is simply the interest of the dom inant, or more precisely, the interest the dominant have in the perpetuation of a system consistent w ith their interests. T hose w ho explain matrimonial strategies by their effects - for exam ple, the "fission and fu sion of Murphy and Kasden are effects which one gains nothing by term ing functions - are no less remote from the reality of practices than those who invoke the efficacy of the rule. T o say that parallel-cousin marriage has the function of fission and/or fusion w ithout inquiring for whom, for w hat, to what (m easurable) extent, and under what conditions, is to resort, sham efacedly of course, to explanation by final causes instead of inquiring how the econom ic and social conditions charac teristic of a social formation im pose the pursuit of the satisfaction of a determinate type of interests which itself leads to the production of a determ inate type of collective effect. By m eans of secret negotiations, lhamgharth som etim es manages to interfere in a marriage being arranged entirely by the m en, and to make thislith promise to leave her com plete authority in the house, warning her that otherwise she will prevent the marriage. T he sons have som e justification in suspecting their m others of giving them for wives girls they - the mothers - will be able to dom inate w ithout difficulty. T h e marriages of the poor (especially those poor in sym bolic capital) are to those of the rich, mutatis mutandis, what female marriages are to male marriages. T he poor cannot afford to be too dem anding in matters of honour. " T h e only thing the poor man can do is show he is jealous. T h is means that, like w om en, the poor are less concerned with the sym bolic and political functions of a marriage than w ith its practical functions, attaching, for exam ple, much more importance to the personal qualities of the spouses. T h e girls value on the marriage market is in a sense a direct projection of the value socially attributed to the tw o lineages of which she is the product. T h is can be seen clearly when the father has had children by several marriages: whereas the boys value is unrelated to their m others value, the girls value depends on the social status of their m others lineages and the strength of their m others positions in the fam ily. T h e relevant genealogy is to be found in Bourdieu, Esquisse, p. 149. "Spontaneous p sych ology perfectly describes the "girls b o y (aqchich bu thaqchichin), coddled and cosseted by the w om en of the fam ily w ho are always inclined to keep him with them longer than the other boys; he eventually identifies with the social role created for him , and becom es a sickly, puny child, "eaten up by his many long-haired sisters. T h e same reasons which lead the fam ily to lavish care on a product too rare and precious to be allowed to run the slightest risk - to spare him agricultural work and to prolong his education, thus settin g him apart from his friends by his more refined speech, cleaner clothes, and more elaborate food - also lead them to arrange an early marriage for him . A girls value rises with the number of her brothers, the guardians of her honour (in particular of her virginity) and potential allies of her future husband. T ales





107 108



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express the jealousy inspired by the girl with seven brothers, protected sevenfold like "a fig among the lea v es : "A girl who was lucky enough to have seven brothers could be proud, and there was no lack o f suitors. She was sure of being sought after and appreciated. W hen she was married, her husband, her husbands parents, the whole fam ily, and even the neighbours and their w ives respected herhad she not seven men on her side, was she not the sister of seven brothers, seven protectors? If there was the slightest argument, they came and set things right and if their sister com m itted a fault, or ever came to be repudiated, they would have taken her back home with them, respected by everyone. N o dishonour could touch them. N o one would dare to enter the lions d e n n o Particularly skilful strategies can make the m ost of the lim ited capital available, through bluff (difficult when one is operating in the area of familiar relationships) or, more sim ply, through shrewd exploitation of the am biguities of the symbolic patrimony or discrepancies betw een different com ponents of the patrimony. Although it may be regarded as part of sym bolic capital, which is itself relatively autonom ous of strictly econom ic capital, the skill w hich enables one to make the best use of the patrimony through shrewd investm ents, such as successful marriages, is relatively independent of it. T h u s the poor, w ho have nothing to sell but their virtue, can take advantage of their daughters marriage to gain prestigious allies or at least powerful protectors, by purveying honour to highly placed buyers. i n Inasmuch as they belong to the class of reproduction strategies, matrimonial strategies differ in no way in their logic from those strategies designed to preserve or increase sym bolic capital w hich conform to the dialectic of honour, whether they involve the buying back of land or the paying back of insults, rape, or murder; in each case, the same dialectical relationship can be observed between vulnerability (through land, w om en, the house, in short, hurma) and the protec tion (through men, rifles, the point of honour; in short, nif) which preserves or increases sym bolic capital (prestige, honour; in short, hurma).

C H A P T E R 2. S T R U C T U R E S A N D T H E H A B IT U S 1 T h e word disposition seem s particularly suited to express what is covered by the concept of habitus (defined as a system of dispositions). It expresses first the result of an organizing action, w ith a m eaning close to that of words such as structure; it also designates a w a y of being, a habitual state (especially of the body) and, in particular, a predisposition, tendency, propensity, or inclination. [T he sem antic cluster of " d isp osition is rather wider in French than in English, but as this note - translated literally - show s, the equivalence is adequate. Translator.] 2 T h e m ost profitable strategies are usually those produced, on the hither side of all calculation and in the illusion of the m ost "authentic sincerity, by a habitus objectively fitted to the objective structures. T hese strategies w i t h o u t strategic calculation procure an im portant secondary advantage for those w ho can scarcely be called their authors - the social approval accruing from a p p a r e n t disinterestedness. 3 "H ere w e confront the distressing fact that the sam ple episode chain under analysis is a fragment of a larger segm ent of behavior which in the com plete r e c o r d contains som e 480 separate episodes. M oreover, it took only tw enty m inutes for these 480 behavior stream events to occur. If my w ifes rate of behavior is roughly representative of that of other actors, we must be prepared to deal with

N otes f o r p p . 7 3 - 7 7

2 15

6 7 8

9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18



an inventory of episodes produced at the rate of som e 20,000 per sixteen-hour day per a c to r .. .I n a population consisting of several hundred actor-types, the number of different episodes in the total repertory must am ount to many m illions during the course of an annual cycle" (M . Harris, The N ature o f Cultural Things (N ew York: Random H ouse, 1964), pp. 74-5)See A . T ouraine, Sociologie de Vaction, Paris: Seu il, 1965, and "L a raison d'etre dune sociologie de Taction, Revue Frangaise de Sociologie, 7 (O ctober-D ecem ber 1966), pp. 518-27. J.-P. Sartre, L etreetle neant (Paris :G allim ard, 1943), p. 510 (Being and Nothingness (L ondon: M ethuen, 1957), pp. 434-5 [translation em en d ed ]); see also Sartre, "Repose a L efort, L es Temps M odem es, no. 89 (A pril 1963), pp. 1571-1629. L etre el le neant, p. 669; Being and Nothingness, p. 580. L etre et le neant, p. 521; Being and Nothingness, p. 445. E. D urkheim , Les regies de la methode sociologique, 18th ed. (Paris: P U F , 1973), p. 18; English trans. T he Rules o f Sociological M ethod (N e w Y o rk : Free Press, 1964), p. 17. L etre et le neant, p. 543; Being and Nothingness, p. 465. Critique de la raison dialectique (Paris: Gallimard, i960), p. 161. Critique, p. 305. Critique, p. 357. Regies, p. 19; Rules, p. 18. Critique, p. 133. Critique, pp. 234 and 281. Critique, p. 294. Critique, p. 179. Can one avoid attributing to the permanence of a habitus the constancy with which the objective intention of the Sartrian philosophy (despite its language) asserts itself against the subjective intentions of its author, that is, against a permanent project of " conversion , a project never more m anifest and m anifestly sincere than in certain anathemas which would perhaps be less violent if they were not redolent of conscious or unconscious self-critique? (T h u s, for exam ple, one needs to bear in mind the fam ous analysis of the cafe waiter for a full appreciation of a sentence such as this: " T o all those w ho take them selves for angels, their neighbours activities seem absurd, because such people presum e to transcend the human enterprise by refusing to take part in i t : Critique, pp. 182-3). And when, in his analysis of the relationship betw een Flaubert and the bourgeoisie, Sartre makes the awakening of consciousness the basis of an existence and an oeuvre, he testifies that it is not sufficient to becom e aware of class condition in order to be liberated from the lasting dispositions it produces (see P. Bourdieu, "Champ du pouvoir, cham p intellectuel et habitus de classe, Scolies, 1 (1971), pp. 7-26, esp. pp. 12-14). See the whole chapter entitled " R echtsordnung, K onvention und Sitte , in which Max Weber analyses the differences and transitions between custom , convention, and law (W irtschaft und Gesellschaft (C ologne and Berlin: Kiepenhauer und W itsch, 1964), vol. 1, pp. 240-50, esp. pp. 246-^9; English trans. "L aw , Convention and C u stom , Economy and Society, ed. G . Roth and C. W ittich (N ew York: Bedminster Press, 1968), 1, pp. 319-33). "We call this subjective, variable probability - which som etim es excludes doubt and engenders a certainty sui generis and which at other tim es appears as no more than a vague glim m er - philosophical probability, because it refers to the exercise of the higher faculty whereby we com prehend the order and the rationality of

2 l6

N otes fo r pp. 79-8$

things. All reasonable men have a confused notion of similar probabilities; this then determ ines, or at least justifies, those unshakable beliefs we call common sense (A . Cournot, Essai sur les fondements de la connaissance et sur les caracteres de la critique philosophique (Paris: H achette, 1922; 1st ed ., 1851), p. 70). E. Durkheim , devolu tion pedagogique en France (Paris: Alcan, 1938), p . 16. R. Ruyer, Paradoxes de la conscience et limites de I'automatisme (Paris: Albin M ichel, 1966), p. 136. T h is universalization has the same lim its as the objective conditions of which the principle generating practices and works is the product. T h e objective conditions exercise simultaneously a universalizing effect and a particularizing effect, because they cannot hom ogenize the agents whom they determ ine and w hom they consti tute into an objective group, w ithout distinguishing them from all the agents produced in different conditions. O ne of the merits of subjectivism and moralism is that the analyses in which it condem ns, as inauthentic, actions subject to the objective solicitations of the world (e.g . Heidegger on everyday existence and "das M a n or Sartre on the spirit of seriousness) dem onstrate, per absurdum, the im possibility of the authentic existence that would gather up all pregiven significations and objective determ inations into a project of freedom . T he purely ethical pursuit of authenticity is the privilege of the leisured thinker who can afford to dispense with the econom y of thought which " inauthentic conduct allows. G . W. Leibniz, Second eclaircissem ent du system e de la communication des substances* (1696), in Oeuvres philosophiques, ed. P. Janet (Paris: de Lagrange, 1866), vol. 11, p. 548. T h u s, ignorance of the surest but best-hidden foundation of group or class integration leads some (e.g . Aron, D ahl, etc.) to deny the unity of the dominant class with no other proof than the im possibility of establishing empirically that the mem bers of the dominant class have an explicit policy, expressly imposed by explicit co-ordination, and others (Sartre, for example) to see the awakening of class consciousness - a sort of revolutionary cogito bringing the class into existence by constituting it as a class for itse lf - as the only possible foundation of the unity of the dominated class. L eibniz, Second eclaircissem ent, p. 548. Were such language not dangerous in another way, one would be tempted to say, against all forms of subjectivist voluntarism , that class unity rests fundamentally on the class unconscious. T h e awakening of "class consciousness is not a primal act constituting the class in a blaze of freedom ; its sole efficacy, as with all actions of sym bolic reduplication, lies in the extent to which it brings to consciousness all that is im plicitly assumed in the unconscious mode in the class habitus. T h is takes us beyond the false opposition in which the theories of acculturation have allowed them selves to be trapped, w ith, on the one hand, the realism of the structure which represents cultural or linguistic contacts as contacts between cultures or languages, subject to generic laws (e.g . the law of the restructuring of borrowings) and specific laws (those established by analysis of the s t r u c t u r e s specific to the languages or cultures in contact) and on the other hand the realism o f the element, which em phasizes the contacts betw een the societies (regarded as populations) involved or, at best, the structures of the relations betw een those societies (dom ination, etc.). The People o f Alor, M inneapolis: U niversity of M innesota Press, 1944. Culture and Personality (N ew York: Random H ouse, 1965), p. 86.

21 22 23




27 28


30 31

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2 17

32 If iiliterate societies seem to have a particular bent for the structural games which fascinate the anthropologist, their purpose is often quite simply m nem onic: the remarkable homology to be observed in Kabvlia between the structure of the distribution of the fam ilies in the village and the structure of the distribution of graves in the cemetery (Ait Hichem , T izi Hibel) clearly makes it easier to locate the traditionally anonymous graves (with expressly transmitted landmarks added to the structural principles). 33 B. Berelson and G . A. Steiner, Human Behavior (N ew York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1964), p. 193. 34 The Singer o f the Tales (Cambridge, M a ss.: Harvard U niversity Press, i960), p. 30. 35 Ibid. p. 32. 36 Ibid. p. 24. 37 T hus, in the game of qochra, which the children play in early spring, the cork ball (the qochra) which is fought for, passed and defended, is the practical equivalent of woman. In the course of the game the players must both defend them selves against it and, possessing it, defend it against those trying to take it away. At the start of the match, the leader of the game repeatedly asks, "W hose daughter is sh e ? but no one will volunteer to be her father and protect her: a daughter is always a liability for men. And so lots have to be drawn for her, and the unlucky player w ho gets her must accept his fate. He now has to protect the ball against the attacks of all the others, while at the same time trying to pass it on to another player; but he can only do so in an honourable, approved way. A player whom the father manages to touch with his stick, telling him S h es your daughter, has to acknowledge defeat, like a man temporarily obliged to a socially inferior family from whom he has taken a w ife. For the suitors the tem ptation is to take the prestigious course of abduction, whereas the father wants a marriage that will free him from guardianship and allow him to re-enter the gam e. T h e loser of the game is excluded from the world of men ; the ball is tied under his shirt so that he looks like a girl who has been got pregnant. 38 It is said that formerly the wom en used to go to market alone; but they are so talkative that the market w ent on until the market time of the follow ing week. So the men turned up one day with sticks and put an end to their w ives gossip ing. . .I t can be seen that the m y th "exp lain s the present division of space and work by invoking the "evil nature of w om en. When a man wants to say that the world is topsy-turvy, he says that the w om en are going to market 39 A full presentation of the analysis of the internal structure of the Kabvle house, of which it has only been possible to give the indispensable outline here, can be found in P. Bourdieu, Esquisse d une theorie de la pratique (Paris and Geneva: Libraine D roz, 1972), pp. 45-69. 40 T h is means to say that the learning by d o in g hypothesis, associated with the name of Arrow (see K. J. Arrow, T he Econom ic Implications of Learning by D o in g , Review of Economic Studies, 29, 3, no. 80 (June 1962), pp. 155-73) is a particular case (whose particularity needs to be specified) of a very general law: every made product - including sym bolic products such as works of art, gam es, m yths, etc. - exerts by its very functioning, particularly by the use made of it, an educative effect which helps to make it easier to acquire the dispositions necessary for its adequate use. 41 Eriksons analyses of the Yoruk might be interpreted in the same light (see E. H. Erikson, "Observations on the Yoruk: Childhood and World Im age (U niversity of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, vol. 35, no. 10, Berkeley: U niversity of California Press, 1943), pp. 257-302).



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42 E. H. Erikson, "Childhood and Tradition in T w o American T ribes , in The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child (N ew York: International U niversities Press 1945), vol. 1, pp. 319-50. 43 Contributions to Psycho-analysis 1921-/945 (L on d on : Hogarth Press, 1948), p. 109m and p. 260m. 44 Every group entrusts to bodily automatisms those principles most basic to it and most indispensable to its conservation. In societies which lack any other recording and objectifying instrum ent, inherited knowledge can survive only in its embodied state. A m ong other consequences, it follows that it is never detached from the body which bears it and which - as Plato noted - can deliver it only at the price of a sort of gymnastics intended to evoke it: mimesis. T he body is thus con tinuously m ingled with all the knowledge it reproduces, which can never have the objectivity and distance stem m ing from objectification in writing. 45 A. Matheron, Individu et societe chez Spinoza (Paris: Editions de M inuit, 1969), P- 349- 46 T hus, practical mastery of what are called the rules of politeness, and in particular the art of adjusting each of the available formulae (e.g. at the end of a letter) to the different classes of possible addressees, presupposes the im plicit mastery, hence the recognition, of a set of oppositions constituting the im plicit axiomatics of a determinate political order: in the example considered these are (in France) the opposition between men and w om en, the former requiring " h om age, the latter "salutations or "sen tim en ts ; the opposition between the older and the younger; the opposition betw een the personal, or private, and the impersonal - with administrative or business letters; and finally the hierarchical opposition between superiors, equals, and inferiors, which governs the subtle grading of marks of respect. 47 One of the reasons for the use of the term habitus is the wish to set aside the com m on conception of habit as a mechanical assembly or preformed programme, as H egel does when in the Phenomenology of Mind he speaks of " habit as dexterity 48 For a sociological application of these analyses, see P. Bourdieu, "A venirde classe et causalite du probable, Revue Fran$aise de Sociologie, 15, (January-March *974) PP 3~ 42- English translation forthcoming. C H A P T E R 3. G E N E R A T I V E S C H E M E S A N D P R A C T I C A L L O G IC 1 T h e antigenetic prejudice leading to unconscious or overt refusal to seek the genesis of objective structures and internalized structures in individual or collec tive history com bines with the antifunctionalist prejudice, which refuses to take account of the practical functions w hich symbolic system s may perform; and together they reinforce the tendency of structuralist anthropology to credit historical system s with more coherence than they have or need to have in order to function. In reality these system s remain, like culture as described by Lowie, "things of shreds and patches,-even if these patches are constantly undergoing unconscious and intentional restructurings and reworkings tending to integrate them into the system . 2 T h e history of perspective offered by Panofsky (E . Panofsky, " D ie Perspektive als 'sym bolische F orm , Vortrage der Bibliothek Warburg, L eipzig and Berlin, 1924-5, pp. 258-330) is an exemplary contribution to a social history of conven tional m odes of cognition and expression; doubtless, in order to make a radical break with the idealist tradition of "symbolic forms* one would have to relate

N otes fo r p p . 9 7-9 8


historical forms of perception and representation more systematically to the social conditions in which they are produced and reproduced (by express or diffuse education), i.e. to the structure of the groups producing and reproducing them and the position of those groups in the social structure. T h e degree to which the principles of the habitus are objectified in knowledges fixed and taught as such varies considerably from one area of activity to another: a rough count indicates that the relative frequency of highly codified sayings, proverbs, and rites declines as one m oves from the agrarian calendar (and the calendars closely associated with it, which are already less codified, such as the w om ens w eaving and pottery calendar, and the cooking calendar) to the divisions of the day or the ages of human life, not to mention areas apparently given over to arbitrariness, such as the organization of the space inside the house, the parts of the body, colours, or animals. Striking evidence of the connivance between the anthropologist and his informant in legalist formalism may be found in the fact that the hierarchy of domains, in terms of their degree of objectification, more or l e s s matches their relative prominence in anthropologists data-collecting. Because its social function puts it into com petition with the M oslem calendar and the learned or semi-learned traditions associated with it - those which are conveyed by the ephem erides and almanacs and have long been diffused through the intermediary of the literate - the agrarian calendar is, of all the different domains of the tradition, the one which most directly bears the mark of Islamic contributions. T h is capital of knowledge is not distributed uniformly among all m em bers of the group (although the disparities are never so great as those found in literate societies with educational sy stem s): the division of labour between the sexes or the age-groups and (albeit in a rudimentary form) between the professions (with the oppositions between the peasant, the scholar, and the sm ith or the butcher) inclines the different categories of agents (w hose practical calendars, though different, are objectively orchestrated) to practise very different degrees of accu mulation of the various instrum ents handed on by the cultural tradition and, in particular, predisposes and prepares them in very different ways to memorize those instrum ents which are objectified in the form of codified (and som etim es written) knowledge. It is am ong the old women and the sm iths, both of whom occupy an am biguous position in the group, that one generally finds the greatest com petence in private magic, minor, optional rites, intended to serve private ends, such as the rites of curative or love magic, which generally make use of transparent sym bolism and sim ple ritual strategies, such as the transference of good or evil on to a person or an object; whereas it is the most influential members of the group, the oldest men of the most respected families, who are generally the most adept in the rites of collective magic, official, obligatory rites w hich, like the agrarian rites, involve the whole group because they fulfil the same function for every m em ber of the group. T h is sort of homogenization and unification was successfully undertaken by the great priestly bureaucracies of antiquity, w hich wielded sufficient authority to im pose a genuine religious code, with its rites performed on fixed dates regardless of fluctuations in the climate and the diversity of economic and social conditions. T he (arbitrary) mode of representation which has been adopted here to reconsti tute the logic im manent in representations and practices (and which runs the risk of encouraging a structuralist reading through the effect of a synoptic diagram) highlights the turning-points or thresholds (spring, autum n), while presenting the marked m om ents of the agrarian year as the ordinate points of a linear, oriented


N otes f o r p p . 10 0 -10 4 sequence (running from autum n to sum m er, i.e. from west to east, evening to morning, etc.) or as the points on a circle w hich may be obtained by folding the diagram along the axis X Y . Other informants even say it is im possible to know which is the first day of winter. T hese names refer to the legend of the borrowed days, which tells how winter (or January', or February, etc.) borrowed a few days from the next period so as to punish an old woman (or a goat, or a Negro) who had issued a challenge. Although it m ust not be forgotten that to bring together, in the form of a s e r ie s , a set of features present in a particular region is itself an entirely artificial syncretic operation, the three main series are indicated in the diagram, \[ z imirghane, amerdil, thamgharth, ahgan or thiftirine, nisan; thimgharine, hayan, nisan; el mwalah, el qw arah, el szcalah, e lfw a ta h . husum, natah, nisan. T hese s e r ie s could (for the sake of sim plicity) be said to correspond to the Djurdjura r e g i o n , to Lesser Kabylia, and, in the last case, to the most Islamized areas or to li t e r a t e informants. T h is was how an informant spoke of la'didal, a period of dreadful cold w h o s e com ing can never be predicted. It is m entioned in a song which the w om en s in g w hile working at the flour mill: " If la'didal are like the nights of hayan for m e . tell the shepherds to flee to the village. And according to informants in th e Djurdjura region, one night in the month of bujember (no one knows which o n e ) water turns to blood. T h is sem i-scholarly series is som etim es called ma, qa, sa, fin, by a mnemonic device used by the marabouts, in which each name is represented by its initial. Sim ilarly, it is thanks to its m nem onic qualities that informants almost always cite the series of the divisions of the beginning of sum m er ( izegzaw en, iwraghen, imellalen, iquranen); the series is also som etim es designated by the first consonants of the roots of the Berber names for the divisions: z a , ra, ma, qin. Other taboos of hayan and husum: ploughing, w eddings, sex; working at night; making and firing pottery; preparing w ool; w eaving. At Ain A ghbel, during husum, all work on the land is forbidden - it is el faragh, em ptiness. It is inauspicious "to start any building work, celebrate a marriage, hold a feast, or buy an anim al. In a general w ay, people refrain from any activity involving the future. Thafsuth, spring, is related to efsu, to undo, untie, to draw w ool, and in the passive, to open out, burgeon, flower. Marriages take place either in autum n, like the marriage of the earth and the sky, or in spring, in m id-A pril, w hen, according to a scholarly tradition, all the beings on the earth marry. Sterile w om en are recom m ended to eat boiled herbs picked during natah. A z a l denotes the daytim e, broad daylight (as opposed to night and m orning), and more especially the hottest m om ent of the sum m er day, devoted to rest. The "return of a z a l is essentially marked by a change in the rhythm of daily a c t i v i t y , which is analysed below. Just as acts of fecundation are excluded from the month of M ay, so sleep is excluded from the first day of sum m er: people take care not to sleep that day for fear of falling ill or losing their courage or their sense of honour (the seat of which is the liver, the place of ruh, the male sou l). D oubtless for the same reason, earth dug up on that day is used in the magic rites intended to reveal the weakening or disappearance of the point of honour (nif) in m en, and the stubborn ness in anim als w hich makes them resist training. Smoke is som etim es credited with fertilizing powers, w hich, at the tim e of in sfa,

7 8




13 14




N otes f o r p p . 1 0 4 - 1 1 0





21 22


24 25


mainly act on the fig-trees (w hose cycle is relatively independent of that of the cereals, and accompanied by a relatively small num ber of rites, ow ing to the fact that it involves no intervention ''against nature). Sm oke, a synthesis of the moist and the dry obtained by burning moist things (green plants, branches, and vegetation gathered from damp spots, such as poplars or oleander), is believed to have the power to fecu n d ate the fig-trees; fum igation is identified with caprification. A number of proverbs explicitly link the tw o p eriod s: for exam ple, it is often said that if there is a severe sirocco in smaim there will be cold weather and snow in lyali. T he word lakhrif is related to the verb kherref, m eaning to pick and eat fresh fig s, and also to joke, to tell funny and often obscene stories, in the style of the wandering singers, and som etim es to talk n on sen se ( itskhernf "hes ram bling; akherraf, joker, buffoon). A similar effect may be observed in any social formation in which there coexist unequally legitim ate practices and know ledges: when m em bers of the working classes are questioned about their cultural practices and preferences, they select those which they regard as closest to the dom inant definition of legitimate practice. E. H usserl, Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology, trans. W. R. Boyce G ibson (N ew York and L ondon: Collier, 1972), pp. 309-11. In a sort of com m entary on Saussures second principle ( the signifier unfolds in tim e and has the characteristics it gets from tim e : F. de Saussure, Cours de linguistique generale (Paris: Payot, i960), p. 103; trans. W. Baskin as Course in General Linguistics (N ew York: Philosophical Library, 1959), p. 70), Cournot contrasts the properties of spoken or written discourse, "an essentially linear series whose "mode of construction obliges us to use a successive, linear series of signs to express relationships which the mind perceives, or ought to perceive, sim ultaneously and in a different ord er, with synoptic tables, family trees, historical atlases, mathematical tables, in which the surface expanse is more or less successfully exploited to represent system atic relations and links w hich it would be difficult to make out in the flow of d iscou rse (A . C ournot). Essai sur les fondements de la connaissance et sur les caracteres de la critique philosophique (Paris: H achette, 1922), p. 364). See J. Favret, "La segm entarite au M aghreb, L'Homme, 6, 2 (1966), pp. 105-11, and Relations de dependance et manipulation de la violence en K a b v lie, L'H om m e, 8, 4 (1968), pp. 18-44. Set out in greater detail in P. Bourdieu, The Algerians (B oston: Beacon Press, 1962), pp. 14-20. T h e logic of rite and m yth belongs to the class of natural logics, which logic, linguistics, and the philosophy of language are beginning to explore, with very different assum ptions and m ethods. For exam ple, according to George Lakoff, one of the founders of generative sem an tics, the fuzzy lo g ic of ordinary language is characterized by its use of fuzzy co n cep ts and h ed g es, such as sort oft pretty much, rather, loosely speaking, etc., which subject truth-values to a deform ation which classical logic cannot account for. T h e logic of practice ow es a number of its properties to the fact that what logic calls the universe of d iscou rse there remains im plicit, in its practical state. One must never lose sight of the conditions w hich have to be fulfilled for a genuine universe of discourse to appear: the intellectual and material equipm ent needed for the successive operations of methodical recording; the leisure required to carry


N otes f o r p p . 1 1 0 - 1 1 6 out these operations and analyse their products; an * interest in such activities ' w hich, even if not experienced as such, cannot be dissociated from a reasonably expectation of material and/or sym bolic profit, i.e . from the existence of a market for discourse and metadiscourse, etc. It can be seen, in passing, that the points of view adopted on the house are opposed in accordance with the very logic (m ale/fem ale) which they a p p ly : this sort of reduplication, founded on the correspondence betw een social divisions and logical divisions, results in a circular reinforcem ent which no doubt makes an important contribution towards confining agents in a closed, finite world and a doxic experience of that world. J. N icod , L a geometrie dans le mondc sensible, w ith a preface by Bertrand Russell (Paris: P U F , 1962), pp. 43-4. For similar observations, see M . Granet, L a civilisation chinoise (Paris: A . Colin, 1929), passim and esp. p. 332. Another m odulation technique is association by assonance; it may lead to connections with no mythico-ritual significance (aman d laman, water is trust) or, on the other hand, to connections which are sym boli cally overdeterm ined (a zk a d a z q a , tom orrow is the grave). A s in poetry, the practical logic of ritual exploits the duality of sound and sense (and, in other cases, the plurality of m eanings of the same so u n d ); the double link, by sound and by m eaning, offers a crossroads, a choice between two paths, either of which may be taken, w ithout contradiction, at different tim es and in different contexts. Certain inform ants proceed in just this way w hen, avoiding mere recitation of the sem i-scholarly series, they reconstruct the calendar by means of successive dichotom ies. In another tale, the snake which a sterile woman had brought up as her son is rejected by its first w ife: it draw s itself up, swells, and breathes out a jet of poisonous flame (asqi, the tem pering of iron, also means poisoning) which reduces her to ashes. T h e agrarian calendar reproduces, in a transfigured form , the rhythm s of the farming year, or more precisely, the clim atic rhythm s as seen w hen translated into the alternation of labour periods and production periods w hich structures the farming year. (T h e pattern of rainfall is characterized by the opposition between the cold, wet season, from N ovem ber to April - with the m axim um rain or snow com ing in N ovem ber and D ecem ber, followed by a drier period in January and more rain in February and March - and the hot, dry season, from May to October - the driest m onths being June, July, and A ugust. T h e farmers dependence on the climate was obviously exacerbated by the lim ited traction power available - for ploughing - and the inefficiency of the techniques used sw ingplough and sickle - though som e are more dependent than others, since the owners of the best land and the best oxen can plough im m ediately after the first rains, even if the soil is sticky, whereas the poorest farmers often have to wait until they can borrow or hire a yoke of oxen; and the same is true of reaping - those richest in sym bolic capital can assem ble the labour force required for a quick harvest.) In the same w ay, the sym bolic equipm ent the rites can use naturally depends on what is in season (although in som e cases reserves are set aside specially for ritual use); but the generative schem es make it possible to find substitutes and to turn external necessities and constraints to good account within the logic of the rite itself (and this explains the perfect harmony between technical reason and mythic reason to be found in more than one case, e.g . in the orientation of the house). T hese schem es can be grasped only in the objective coherence of the ritual


28 29





N otes fo r p p .

j 18-121


actions to w hich they give rise, although they can som etim es be almost directly apprehended in discourse, w hen for no apparent reason an informant "associates two ritual practices which have nothing in com m on except a schem e (e.g . the schem e of sw elling, in one case in which an informant "related , by describing them one after the other, the meal eaten on the first day of spring - with adhris - and the w edding meal - w ith ufthyen). 34 Workmen w ho use a w ooden roller and an iron bar to raise a stone are applying the rule of the com position of parallel forces in the same direction ; they know how to vary the position of the fulcrum depending on their exact purpose and the w eight or volum e of the load, as if they were not unaware of the rule (which they would not be capable of form ulating expressly) that the greater the ratio betw een the two arms of the lever, the less force is needed to counterbalance a resistance - or more generally, the rule that a loss in displacem ent is a gain in force. T here is no reason to invoke the mysteries of an unconscious versed in physics, or the arcana of a philosophy of nature postulating a mysterious harmony betw een the structure of the human brain and the structure of the physical world. It m ight be interesting to know w hy the fact that the manipulation of language presupposes the acquisition of abstract structures and of rules for the carrying out of those operations (such as, according to C hom sky, the non-recursive nature of inversion) should arouse such w onderm ent. 35 T h is section owes much to Jean N icod. Cf. L a geometne dans le monde sensible. 36 Q uoted in G . Bachelard, L a poetique de I espace (Paris: P U F , 1961), p. 201.

37 ^ id .
38 Cf. J. F. L e N y , Apprentissageetactivitespsychologiques(Paris: P U F , 1967), p. 137. 39 wModern sociologists and psychologists resolve such problem s by appealing to the unconscious activity of the mind; but when Durkheim was w riting, psychology and modern linguistics had not yet reached their main conclusions. T h is explains w hy D urkheim foundered in what he regarded as an irreducible antinom y. . . : the blindness of history and the purposiveness of consciousness. Between the tw o obviously stands the unconscious finality of the m i n d . . . I t i s . . . a t these interm ediate or lower levels - such as that of unconscious thought - that the apparent opposition betw een the individual and society disappears, and it becomes possible to m ove from one point of view to the oth er. (C . Levi-Strauss, "La sociologie fran^aise, in L a sociologie au X X e siecle, ed. G . Gurvich and Wr. E. Moore (Paris: P U F , 1947), vol. 11, p. 527). 40 T h is is why I cannot help feeling a certain unease at w riting and describing in words what, after a learning process analogous (mutatis mutandis) to that of the native agent, I first mastered practically: the concept of "resurrection is what the outsider, lacking practical mastery of the schem es of " opening and " sw ellin g and of the objective intent to which they are subordinate, needs in order to "understand rites generated practically from these schem es. But then he runs the risk of giving a false "understanding both of the "understanding which such a concept makes possible, and of the practical "understanding which does not need concepts. 41 T he most accom plished prov erbs are those which manage to com bine the necessity of a linguistic connection (w hich may range from mere assonance to a comm on root) with the necessity of a mythical connection (paronomasia, and in particular the highest variety, the word-play of philosophy, has no other basis). 42 M ost of these meanings are expressed through euphem ism s: e.g . the sense " extin gu ish is conveyed by ferrah, to gladden. 43 Basic senses: heavy/light, hot/cold, dull/brilliant.


N otes fo r p p . 1 2 2 - 1 2 7

44 T o cast behind is also, at a more superficial level, to neglect, despise (''to put behind ones ear), or more sim ply, not to face up to, not to confront. 45 Even in ordinary language, it w ould not be difficult to find the elem ents of a description of this approximate logic, w hich "gets b y in a rough and ready way, "playing it by ear and "follow ing its nose all is grist that com es to this mill. A few specim ens: I ll be back in a seco n d . . . just a t i c k .. . only a short ste p .. any m om ent n o w . . . much the sa m e. . . som ething lik e. . . sort o f . . . once in a blue m o o n . . . never in a thousand years. . . taking an etern ity . . . to some e x te n t .. . all b u t. . . at a rough g u e ss. . . a stones th ro w . . . spitting d istan ce.. so to s p e a k .. . the average is in the region o f . *. a small minority of trouble m a k e r s ... not to put too fine a point upon it. . . u m p t e e n ... w ithin a hairs breadth. . . most of the t i m e .. . not e n tir e ly .. . v ir tu a lly .. . tolerab ly. . . etc. 46 T his is exactly Platos complaint against the m ythologists and poets: that they are incapable of re-producing a practice other than by " identifying them selves with som eone e ls e dia mimeseos, through mime (cf. for exam ple, Republic 393d). -47 Aristotle, Metaphysics, A 5, 986a-22sq. 48 It is significant that Em pedocles, w ho of all the pre-Socratic thinkers is the closest to the objective truth of rite, and hence the furthest removed from rite, uses terms as manifestly social as philia and neikos to name these tw o principles of ritual action. 49 On the identification of the opposition between, on the one hand, synkrisis and diakrisis, and on the other hand, genesis and phthora, see J. Bollack, Empedocle, vol. 1 (Paris: Editions de M inuit, 1965), p. 19m and p. 25113. 50 T h e preponderance assigned to the male principle, which enables it to impose its effects in every union, means that the opposition between the female-male (the male tem pered by union) and the male-male, is never overtly recognized or declared, despite the disapproval of certain form s of excess of the male virtues, such as "the D e v ils point of honour [nt/J But it is nonetheless possible to set in this class the amengur, the man w ithout m ale descendants, the redhead (azegw ay) w ho sow s discord everywhere, who has no m oustache, whom nobody wants as a companion in the market, and w ho refuses indulgence at the last judgm ent, when everyone forgives offences; etc. 51 T h e duality of woman is retranslated into the logic of kinship in the form of the opposition betw een the patrilateral cross cousin and the matrilateral cross cousin. 52 T he path (abridh) and "com panionship (elw am ) are opposed to emptiness (lakhla), to "solitude, the w ild ern ess (elwahch). Thajma'th is that which can be em pty w ithin fullness; the path (and the crossroads) are fullness within em ptiness. 53 T h e way to get abundant butter is to go unseen to a crossroads used by the flocks, and there find a sm all stone and a few sticks; the stone is put in the dish in which the milk is kept and the sticks are burnt so that the smoke impregnates it (Westermarck). 54 Measuring operations, w hich im pose lim itation, finiteness, breakage, are h e d g e d with euphem ism s and magical precautions: the master of the land refrains from measuring his own crop and entrusts the task to a khammes or a neighbour ( w h o does it in his ab sen ce); ritual expressions are used to avoid certain num bers; ritual formulae are uttered (as they are every time anything is measured or w eighed), such as "M ay G od not measure out his bounty to u s ! Praise of beauty, h e a l t h (a child s, for exam ple), or wealth is an im plicit num bering, hence a cutting, a n d so it must be avoided and replaced with euphem ism s or neutralized with ritual formulae. Cutting operations (extinguishing, closin g, leaving, finishing, stopping,

N otes fo r p p . 1 2 7 - 1 3 0

22 5

breaking, overturning, etc.) are named by means of euphem ism s: for exam ple, to say that the stores, the harvest, or the milk are all gone, an expression m eaning T here is abundance is used. 55 It is also known that the harvesters wear a leather apron similar to the sm ith s (thabanda). 56 Circum cision ( khatna or thara - often replaced by euphem ism s based on dher, to be clean, neat) is a purificatory cut which, as Durkheim suggests, is supposed to confer the im m unity needed in order to confront the fearful forces enclosed in the vagina (cf. the use of the cauris, a sym bol of the vulva, as a magical protection; the destructive power attributed to menstrual blood; the sexual abstinence im posed on important occasions) and especially those w hich sexual intercourse unleashes by effecting the union of contraries (E . D urkheim , The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (L ondon: Allen and U nw in, 1915), pp. 3I4-'S )57 D ivination practices are particularly frequent on the first day of ennayer (in the middle of lya li, w hen the black nights give way to the w h ite * nights) and at the tim e o f the renewal rites which mark the start of the new year and are centred on the house and the kanun (replacing the three hearthstones, w hitew ash ing the houses); for example, at dawn, the sheep and goats are called ou t, and it is regarded as unlucky if it is a goat that com es first, lucky if it is a sheep (cf. the days of the goat - or of the old wom an); the hearthstones are coated with a paste of w et clay, and it is reckoned that the year will be wet if the clay is wet in the m orning, dry if the clay is dry. T h is is explained not only by the inaugural role of the first day of ennayer but also by the fact that it com es in a period of waiting and uncertainty, when there is nothing to be done but try to anticipate the future. T h is is why the prognostication rites concerning family life and especially the com ing harvest are similar to those applied to pregnant w om en. 58 W inter, hom ologous with night, is the time w hen the oxen sleep in the stable (the night and the north of the house); the time of sexual intercourse (the partridge, whose eggs are sym bols of fecundity, mates during lya li). 59 " Chchetwa telsemlaqab netsat d yiwen w ergaz, Fichier d A rchives Berberes, no. 19 (January 1947). W shall kill your cattle, says winter. W hen I arise, the knives I will set to w ork. 60 T h e return of bad weather is som etim es explicitly attributed to the m aleficent action of the old women of this or that village of the tribe or the neighbouring tribes, i.e. w itches, each of whom has her particular day of the week. 61 In the tale called "the jackals marriage, the jackal marries outside his own species; he marries the camel and, moreover, holds no w edding-feast. T he sky shows its disapproval by sending hail and storms. 62 May marriages suffer every sort of calamity and will not last. T h e cursed broom of M ay is the exact opposite of the blessed broom of the "first day of sp rin g : it brings ruin, em ptiness, and sterility to the house or stable in which it is used. 63 T hese various instruments - especially the sickle - are used in the prophylactic rites against the malignant powers of the w et, such as the djnun. 64 Salt has strong links with the dry and with sterility: the words m eaning to be hot, scorching, also mean to be spiced, strong (virile), as opposed to insipid, without bite, without intelligence (salt is sprinkled on babies so they w ill not be insipid, stupid, w itless). T h e man who acts frivolously is said to think he is scattering sa lt; he thinks his acts are of no consequence. Oil shares these connotations: "T he sun is as scorching as o il. 65 T he schem e of turning round and turning over is set to work in all the rites


Notes f o r p p . 1 3 1 - 1 3 5 intended to bring about a radical change, particularly an abrupt passage from the dry to the wet and especially from the wet to the dry: the threshold, which is in itself a point of reversal, is one of the favourite spots for such rites. It is also in terms of this schem e that any reversal or inversion of facts is con ceived : an unabashed liar is said to have put the east in the w e st. H oeing, the only agrarian activity exclusively reserved for w om en, is opposed both to ploughing and to harvesting, operations which may not be entrusted to a woman except in case of absolute necessity, when they require a whole series of ritual precautions: she wears a dagger at her girdle, puts arkasen on her feet, etc. T h e corresponding period in the cycle of life, i.e. childhood, is also marked by a whole series of ritual operations w hich aim to separate the boy from his mother and the female world, causing him at the same tim e to be reborn in his father and his male relatives - in particular all the cerem onies marking his first entry into the male world, such as his first visit to the market, his first haircut, and the culm inating cerem ony of circum cision. A zegzaw denotes blue, green, and grey; it can qualify fruit (green), meat (raw), corn (unripe), a rainy sky (grey, like the ox sacrificed in autum n). A zeg za w brings good fortune: to make a present of som ething green, especially in the morning, brings good luck. Spring is the season for asafruri, i.e. legum inous plants, especially beans, a certain proportion of which are set aside to be eaten green. T h e women gather wild herbs in the course of their hoeing in the cultivated fields, and these are eaten raw (w a g h za z, a raw, green plant the leaves of w hich can be nibbled, e.g. dandelions; th izazw ath , greenery). T h e cattle, fed on green fodder in the stable or near the house, yield abundant milk, which is consumed in every form (w hey, curd, butter, cheese). K . Marx, C apital, ed. F. Engels (M oscow: Progress Publishers, 1956), vol. 11, part 11, ch. x iii T h e time of p roduction, pp. 242-51. Circum cision and tree-pruning, like scarification and tattooing, partake of the logic of purification, in which the instruments made with fire have a beneficent function, like the in sla tires, rather than the logic of murder. In this way the Negro or the sm ith, who are known to be the very opposite of the bringer of good fortune ( elfal), may fulfil a beneficent function as takersaway of ill fortu n e. T he position of the family responsible for inaugurating the ploughing is no less am biguous than that of the smith (elfal is never mentioned in relation to him ), and their role as a lightning conductor does not entitle them to a high place in the hierarchy of prestige and honour. J. G . Frazer, The Golden Bough, 3rd ed. (L ondon: Macmillan, 1912), vol. 1, part v, " T he Spirits of the Corn and the W ild , ch. v n , pp. 214-69. T h e miraculous properties of the meat of the sacrificed animal are appropriated in a comm unal meal. In several cases, the tail of the animal receives special treatment (it is hung up in the m osque) as if, like the last sheaf, som etim es known as the tail of the field , it concentrated the vital potency of the whole. T h e frequency of large- and small-scale fighting in the fig season used to lead som e observers, encouraged by native remarks (an overexcited person is said to have eaten too many fig s), to wonder if the source of the ebullience reigning at that time of year did not lie in the figs them selves: There is one season in particular w hen it really seem s that m en s minds are more heated than any other tim e . . . when they speak of the fig season, which they call kherif, autum n, it seems to be agreed that everyone shall be agitated at that tim e, just as it is customary to be merry at carnival tim es (C . D evaux, Les K ebailesde Djerdjera (M arseilles: Carnion, and Paris: Challamel, 1859), pp. 85-6).




69 70


72 73


N otes fo r p p . 1 3 5 - 1 3 9


75 T he men who encircle the boy comprise all the male members of the clan and sub-clan, together with the m others male kinsmen and their guests (the affines, to w hom the boy has been presented the previous week, by a delegation of rifle-bearing men from the sub-clan, in a rite called aghrum, wheatcake, the dry and therefore male food par excellence, which also takes place before a marriage). T h e sym bolism of the second, purely male birth, obeys the same logic as marriage w ith the parallel cousin, the m ost m asculine of women. 76 Brahim Zellal, " L e roman de chacal, contes d anim aux, Fichier d Archives Berberes, no. 81 (Fort National, Algeria), 1964. 77 Breach of the taboo of lahlal is a haram act (sacrilege) which gives rise to a haram product (c f. the legend of yum chendul - 18 Septem ber - the wise ploughman who, despite the heavy rain on that day, refused to plough before lahlal). In what is known as el haq (e.g. el haq lakhrif, the ban on fig-picking), the magical elem ent is again present, since the assembly w hich pronounces the edict calls down a curse on all who break it; at the same tim e, the social-convention aspect of the interdict appears in the fact that the penalty for transgression is a fine (also called el haq). Although in the case of marriage the terra lahlal is only used to denote the sura of m oney which the bridegroom gives the bride (in addition to the bride wealth and the presents) before the marriage is consum mated, the sanctioning function of the marriage cerem ony is underlined by a number of features (e.g. imensi lahlal). T h u s, as we have seen, the marriage season often used to open with a parallel-cousin marriage, a union predisposed to play this inaugural role by its conform ity to the principles of the mythical world-view. 78 Or "the key of good lu ck . 79 T h e primordial union is represented, in the very place of procreation, in the form of the union of asalas, the central beam, and thigejdith, the pillar, a symbol of the marriage of sky and earth. 80 T h e ploughing cerem ony, like the marriage cerem ony, being a reunion of the divided and separate, syncrisis, is placed under the sign of the figure two: everything which com es in pairs - starting with the yoke of oxen ( thayuga or thazivijth, form ed from the Arabic zw id ja ), the sym bol par excellence - is likely to favour coupling (the man who opens the ploughing is som etim es called "the old man of the yoke of o x en -a m g h a r m ay-yuga). In contrast, that which is singular and solitary, the bachelor for exam ple, a symbol of division and separa teness, is systematically excluded. 81 T h e seed corn, which always includes the grains of the last sheaf reaped (som e tim es the grains of the last sheaf threshed or dust from the last plot of land harvested, or taken from the threshing floor as the last sheaf was threshed; or again, dust from the mausoleum of a saint, salt, e tc .), is kept in the house itself, in sheepskins or chests stored in the damp part of the house and som etim es even under the bed of the master of the field; it is prepared in accordance w ith rites and taboos intended to preserve its properties. 82 T h e snake, a sym bol of resurrection (see above) is often represented on the hand-made earthenware jars used to store grain for cooking or sow ing. 83 T h e interdicts surounding ploughing (or weaving, its female hom ologue) and marriage all bear on acts of cutting (shaving, cutting the hair or n ails), closing (tying up the hair), purifying (sweeping, whitewashing the house), and contact with objects that are dry or associated with the dry (darkening the eyelids with kohl, dying the hands with henna, or, in the order of food, the use of spices). 84 T h e sw ollen part of the lamp, which represents w om ans belly, is called "the pom egranate.


N otes fo r pp. 139-14$

85 T h e action of tying is a typical exam ple of the ambiguities which give practical logic its efficacy. T yin g is in a sense doubly forbidden because it is opposed both to the male action of opening and to the female action of swelling. All forms of tying (crossing the arms or the legs, wearing knots or girdles, rings, etc.) 0r closing (of doors, chests, locks, etc.) are forbidden at the mom ent of childbirth and the opposite actions recom m ended. T h e rites intended to render a man or woman incapable of sexual intercourse apply the schem e of closing (or its equivalent, cutting), again exploiting the coincidence (well expressed by the am biguity of the verbs referring to state) of openmg and being opened. It is natural that ritual, which always seeks to put all the odds on its own side, should in a sense kill two birds with one stone in recom m ending actions likely to favour (or not likely to hinder) opening, an operation male in its active form and female in its passive form. 86 I say " treated practically a s to avoid putting into the consciousness of the agents (with expressions like "seen a s or "conceived a s) the representation which we must construct in order to understand scientifically the practices objectively oriented by the schem e of "resurrection and in order to comm unicate that understanding. 87 T h e m eaning of the rite is clearly show n in the rope game described by Laoust, a sort of tug-of-war between the men and the women, in the course of which the rope is suddenly cut and the women fall on their backs, inviting the sky to rain its fecundating seed upon them . 88 T h e snake, a sym bol of the power of erection and resurrection which belongs to the male principle, is undoubtedly the d ry which shoots out the dry: in the tale related above (p. 222), the aggrieved snake rises, sw ells, and spits out a poisonous flame. 89 All the evidence suggests that the usefulness of the almost empty notion of baraka (which has occupied a disproportionate place in the writings of anthropologists from Westermarck to the present day) lies in the fact that it makes it possible to name both the male principle of fecundity and the female principle of fertility without distinguishing between them . T h is also means that, though useful in social practice, it does not play a very important part in the econom y of the sym bolic system . 90 T h e familiarity with this mode of thought that is acquired in the course of scientific practice gives one an idea (though still a very abstract one) of the subjective feeling of necessity which it gives to those it possesses: there is no way in w hich this laxist logic of overdetermined, fuzzy relations, protected as it is by its very weakness against contradiction or error, could encounter w ithin itself any obstacle or resistance capable of determ ining a reflexive return or a questioning of it. History can therefore only com e to it from outside, through the contradic tions generated by synchronization (favoured by literacy) and the system atizing intent that synchronization expresses and makes possible. 91 T his function is som etim es explicitly formulated. It is said, for exam ple, that when cereals, a soft food, are being sow n, one must "eat so ft. 92 T h e opposition between the cooking-pot (achukth) and the griddle (bufrah) sums up the series of oppositions between the two seasons and the tw o styles of cooking: cooking indoors, boiling, evening meal, unspiced; cooking outdoors, roasting, m orning meal, spiced. With rare exceptions (w hen an animal has been slaughtered or when som eone is ill) meat is regarded as too precious to be c o o k e d on the fire. In sum m er, sw eet peppers and tomatoes are cooked on the kanun. However, meat is always boiled in autumn whereas it can be roasted in spring.

N otes f o r p p . 1 4 5 - 1 S t


93 Winter food is overall more fem ale, sum m er food more male. In every season, female food, as one m ight expect, is a m oist form of the corresponding male fo o d : the m ens food is based on wheatcake (aghrum) and couscous; the guest one wants to honour, the male par excellence, is offered at least one couscous, even if it has to be made with barley, and if possible, a meat couscous; never soup, not even wheat soup, or boiled sem olina. T he w om ens food is liquid, less nourishing, less highly spiced, based on boiled cereals, broths, and sauces (asqi, which also denotes tem pering and p o ison in g); their couscous is made with barley or even bran and flour (abulbul). In fact things are not so sim ple: sem olina dum plings, which may appear as female because they are boiled in water, are also the most male of female foods, hence som etim es eaten by men, because they can be accompanied by meat; conversely, berkukes, a male food, can be eaten by women, because it is boiled, unlike couscous, which is simply sprinkled. A boy eats with the men as soon as he starts to walk and to go to the fields. Once he is old enough to take the goats to pasture, he has a right to the afternoon snack (a handful of figs, half a pint of milk). 94 Other direct indications of the hom ology: the weaving is done upwards, i.e from w est to east. T h e weft is called thadrafth; the warp I'alam. 'Allam is to separate the strands of the warp into tw o strips and to mark out the field with the first furrow which divides it into plots, the even-numbered ones running eastward and the odd ones westward. 95 T o tie a thread so that it cannot be untied is to "tie its so u l. 96 For the same reason, w eaving begun elsewhere is not brought into the house (unless a chicken is sacrificed first). T h is belief is also invoked at harvest time to justifying sacrificing an animal. 97 T hese various tasks are only part of the w om ens activities, which partake of all the more or less abstract series that can be constructed, thereby underlining the fact that practical unity lies not in the series (of farming tasks or the rites of passage) but in practice generating similarly structured behaviour in all dom ains. 98 T he divisions of the year, particularly the m ost important one, "the return of a z a l, which marks the separation between the dry season and the wet season, are (relatively) independent of climatic conditions: thus the characteristic rhythm of the winter day is kept up both at the coldest m om ents and in the warmer and already "springlike days of the wet season. T he autonomy of the logic of ritual with respect to objective conditions is even clearer in the case of clothing, which as a sym bol of social status cannot vary according to the season: how could the burnous be taken off in sum mer, if a man without a burnous is dishonoured ? H ow could anyone fail to put on winter m occasins before reaping or undertaking a long mountain journey, when everyone knows that they are the footwear which characterizes the genuine peasant and the strong walker? H ow could the mistress of the house give up the traditional pair of blankets, worn pinned in front, which sym bolize her authority, her ascendancy over her daughters-in-law, and her power over the running of the household, as does the belt on w hich she hangs the keys to the household stores ? 99 For exam ple, a man who is late in the m orning is told, "All the shepherds are o u t. And to indicate a late hour in the afternoon: "All the shepherds have already 'given back a z a l.,t In fact the return to the village at the tim e of a za l is not abso lutely obligatory, and som e shepherds spend a za l in the shade on the grazing land. 100 For example, a man who does not get up early on the first day of spring is likely to die in the course of the year; a man who gets up early on the first day of sum mer will get up early all through the year.


N otes f o r p p . 1 5 2 - 1 5 6

101 On this notion, see T . Vogel, Theorie dessystemesevolutifs (Paris: Gautier-Villars, 1965) PP &-'102 T h is future already present is the future of the emotion which speaks the future in the present ("I am d ead , I am done fo r) because it reads the future in the present as a potentiality objectively inscribed in the directly perceived present (and not, as Sartre would have it, as a possible, explicitly posited in a project, i.e. in an act of fr e e d o m -th e consequence of this view being that emotion becomes bad faith). 103 People must particularly watch their language in the presence of young children, recently circumcised boys, and newly wed husbands, all of these being categories whose future, i.e. growth, virility, or fertility, is in question. Sim ilarly, a number of the taboos and interdicts of spring can be seen as practical euphem ism s intended to avoid com prom ising the fecundity of natures labour. 104 For the feast called tharurit w a za l (the return of azal), a distinction is made between lesser azal, the mom ent at which the wom en and children come back from the fields (about 10 a.m .) and great azal, about 11 a .m ., when the men come back. 105 T h u s in a rite performed to hasten a girls marriage, the sorceress lights the lamp ( mesbah), the symbol of the hoped-for man, at azal. 106 One could go on to draw a parallel between prophylactic rites such as "the dis sociation from the month and the separation from ennayer, or between the first haircut and the expulsion of maras, or again between all the curative practices applied to the child and the sacrifice of sparrows at the time of asifedh, etc. 107 In each village cemetery there is a grave covered with potsherds, som etim es euphemistically called "the last grave (even if it is very old). It is the outsiders grave, on to which the evil afflicting babies or animals is transferred: the women go there taking a pot of water and an egg, which they eat, leaving the shells and the pot behind after burying or burning the sacrificed object or victim on which the evil has been " fixed. T o "send the baby to sle e p in its mothers womb, the trivet (elkanun u'uzal, the iron kanun) is turned seven times one way, seven times the other, around the pregnant womans girdle, and then it is buried in the grave of the outsider, the man w ho is truly dead. 108 For example, depending on the needs and occasions of ritual practice, birth, as an opening and a beginning, can be linked either to the birth of the year - itself situated at different m om ents according to the occasion - or to the birth of spring, in the order of the year, or again, to dawn, in the order of the day, or to the appearance of the new moon, in the order of the m onth, or to the sprouting of the corn, in the order of the grain cycle; nor.e of these relationships prevents death, to which birth is opposed, from being identified either with the harvest, within the cycle of the life of the field, or with fecundation treated as resurrection, i.e. with the birth of the year, within the grain cycle, etc. 109 Granet gives some striking examples of the would-be im peccable, but merely fantastic, constructs produced by the effort to resolve the contradictions arising from the hopeless ambition of giving the objectively systematic products of analogical reason an intentionally systematic form . E .g. the theory' of the five elem ents, a scholarly elaboration (third to second centuries B .C .) of the mythical sy'stem, establishes hom ologies between the cardinal points (plus the centre), the seasons, the substances (earth, fire, wood, m etal), and the musical notes (L a civilisation chinoise, pp. 304-9). 110 Having failed to see in mythico-ritual logic a particular case of practical logic, of which ancient societies have no m onopoy, and w hich must be analysed as such,

N otes fo r pp. 15 6 - 1 6 1






without any normative reference to logical logic, anthropology has becom e locked in the insoluble antinomy of otherness and identity, the "prim itive mentality" and the "savage m in d . T h e principle of this antinomy was indicated by Kant in the Appendix to the Transcendental Dialectic: depending on the interests which inspire it, "reason obeys either the " principle of specification which leads it to seek and accentuate differences, or the "principle of aggregation or "hom ogeneity, which leads it to observe similarities, and, through an illusion w hich characterizes it, "reason situates the principle of these judgm ents not in itself but in the nature of its objects. An internal analysis of the structure of a system of sym bolic relations is soundly based only if it is subordinated to a sociological analysis of the structure of the system of social relations of sym bolic production, circulation, and consum ption in which these relations are set up and in which the social functions that they objectively fulfil at any given m om ent are defined: the rites and m yths of the Greek tradition tend to receive entirely different functions and meanings depending, for exam ple, on whether they give rise to rationalizing, "routinizing "readings, with corps of scholars, to inspired reinterpretations, with the magi and their initiatory teachings, or to rhetorical exercises, with the first professional profes sors, the Sophists. It follows that, asa point of method, any attempt to reconstruct the original meaning of a mythical tradition must include analysis of the laws of the deformation to which the various successive interpreters subject it on the basis of their system s of interests. As G . Bateson shows ( Naven (Stanford, C a l.: Stanford University Press, 1958; ist ed ., 1936), mythological culture can become the tool, and in some cases the object, of extremely com plex strategies (which explains, am ong other things, why agents undertake the im mense mnem onic effort needed to acquire mastery of it) even in societies which do not have a highly developed and differentiated religious apparatus. It follows that it is im possible fully to account for the structure of the mythical corpus and the transformations which affect it in the course of time, by means of a strictly internal analysis ignoring the functions that the corpus fulfils in the relations of com petition or conflict for econom ic or sym bolic power. It goes without saying that the regressive use which Heidegger and the gnostic tradition that he has introduced into university philosophy make of the most "archaic devices of language, out of a taste for the p n m al which is the recon version of the conservative intent into the logic of the philosophical field, has nothing in comm on with the practice of the pre-Socratic thinkers, who mobilize all the resources of a language fraught with mythic resonances to reproduce in their discourse the objective systematicity of mythic practice or resolve the logical contradictions springing from that ambition. R. Carnap, "t-berw indung derM etaphysikdurch logische Analyse derS p rach e, Erkenntnis, 4 (1931), pp. 219-41.

C H A P T E R 4 . S T R U C T U R E S , H A B IT U S , POW ER 1 T h e wet season is the time for oral instruction through which the group memory is forged. In the dry season, that memory is acted out and enriched through participation in the acts and ceremonies which set the seal on group unity: it is in sum mer that the children undergo practical training in their future tasks as peasants and their obligations as men of honour. 2 T h e "shepherds are the small boys of the village. (Translator.) 3 A principle which, as we have seen, belongs as much to magic as to morality.


Notes fo r pp. 162-165

For example, there is a saying leftar n-esbah d-esbuh erbah, breakfast in the morning is the first w ell-om ened encounter (erbah, to succeed, prosper). Early rising to let out the animals, to go to Koran school, or sim ply to be outside with the men, at the same tim e as the m en, is an elem ent of the conduct of honour which boys are taught to respect from an early age. On the first day of spring, the mistress of the house, who alone has a right to wake the daughters and daughters-in-law, calls the children: "Wake up, children! T he longer you walk before sunrise, the longer you will liv e ! T h e w om en, for their part, set their point of honour on getting up at the same tim e as the m en, if not earlier (the only way they can get all the tim e they want to attend to their appearance without being watched by the m en, who pretend to be ignorant of the w om ens behaviour on this point). T h e young incur even greater disapproval when the)' try to set up a power struggle between the generations, jeopardizing an order based on the maintenance of temporal distance; the generations are separated only by time, which is as much as to say by nothing, for one only has to wait and the difference will disappear ; but the gap m aintaining and maintained by the gerontocratic order is in fact unbridgeable, since the only way to cross it, short of refusing the game, is to wait. It follows that disorganization of its temporal rhythms and spatial framework is one of the basic factors in the disorganization of the grou p ; thus the concentrations of population im posed by the French Army during the war of liberation led to a profound (and often lasting) change in the status of the w om en, w ho, when deprived of the autonomy they derived from access to a separate place and time, were condem ned either to be cloistered or to wear the veil, w hich, after the concentration, made its appearance among Berber populations where it was previously unknown. It is understandable that collective dancing or singing, particularly spectacular cases of the synchronization of the hom ogeneous and the orchestration of the heterogeneous, are everywhere predisposed to sym bolize group integration and, by sym bolizing it, to strengthen it. It goes without saying that logical integration is never total, though always sufficient to ensure the more-or-less-perfect predictability of all members of the group (setting aside the amahbul who takes it upon him self to break with the collective rhythm s). Brutal reduction of this tw ofold, two-faced discourse to its objective (or at least, objectivist) truth neglects the fact that it only produces its specifically sym bolic effects inasmuch as it never directly imparts that truth; the enchanted relationship w hich scientific objectification has to destroy in order to constitute itself is an integral part of the full truth of practice. Science m ust integrate the objectivist truth of practice and the equally objective m isrecognition of that truth into a higher definition of objectivity. Whether through the intermediary of their control over inheritance, which lends itself to all sorts of strategic manipulation, from sheer delay in the effective transmission of powers to the threat of disinheritance, or through the intermediary of the various strategic uses to which they can put their officially recognized monopoly of matrimonial negotiations, the elders have the means of taking advantage of the socially recognized limits of youth. An analysis of the strategies used by the heads of noble houses to keep their heirs in a subordinate position, forcing them to go out on dangerous adventures far from home, is to be found in G . D uby, Hommes et structuresdu Moyen-Age (Paris and T h e Hague: M outon, ' 973). PP- 2 3~ 25> esp. p. 219.


N otes for pp. / 6 6 -1 7 3


ci Love, not im mune to such ritualization, also conforms to this logic, as is well illustrated by the w ords of a young Kabyle woman: "A girl doesnt know her husband beforehand and she looks to him for everything. She loves him even before they marry, because she m u st; she has to love him , there is no other 'door 12 T h e full text of this conversation can be found in P. Bourdieu and A. Sayad, Le deracinement (Paris: M inuit, 1964), pp. 215-20. 13 M. Proust, Contre Sainte-Beuve (Paris: Gallimard, 1965), pp. 74-5. 14 Cf. J. M. W. W hiting, Becoming a Kivom a (N ew Haven, C onn: Yale University Press, 1941), p. 215. 15 T h e phenom enologists systematically forget to carry out an ultimate " reduction , the one which would reveal to them the social conditions of the possibility of the "reduction and the epoche. What is radically excluded from phenomenological analysis of the "general thesis of the natural standpoint which is constitutive of "primary experience of the social world is the question of the econom ic and social conditions of the belief which consists in "taking th e ' factworld ( Wirklichkeit) just as it gives itse lf (E . Husserl, Ideas (N ew York: Collier-M acmillan, 1962), p. 96), a belief which the reduction subsequently causes to appear as a " th esis, or, more precisely, as an epoche of the epoche, a suspension of doubt as to the possibility that the world of the natural standpoint could be otherwise. 16 If the emergence of a field of discussion is historically linked to the developm ent of cities, this is because the concentration of different ethnic and/or professional groups in the same space, with in particular the overthrow of spatial and temporal frameworks, favours the confrontation of different cultural traditions, which tends to expose their arbitrariness practically, through first-hand ex perience, in the very heart of the routine of the everyday order, of the possibility of doing the same things differently, or, no less important, of doing som ething different at the same tim e; and also because it permits and requires the develop ment of a body of specialists charged with raising to the level of discourse, so as to rationalize and systematize them , the presuppositions of the traditional world-viewr, hitherto mastered in their practical state. 17 A whole aspect of what is nowadays referred to as sociology (or anthropology) partakes of this logic. 18 Formal Logic: Or, the Calculus of Inference, Necessary and Probable (London: Taylor and Walton, 1847), p. 41. 19 J.-P . Sartre, L idiot de la fam ille (Paris: Gallimard, 1971), vol. 1, p. 783. 20 On belief as individual bad faith maintained and supported by collective bad faith, see P. Bourdieu, "G enese et structure du champ religeux, Revue Fran^aise de Sociologie, 12, 3 (1971), p. 318. 21 T o convince oneself that this is so, one only has to remember the tradition of "confraternity within the medical profession. N o doctor ever pays a fellow doctor a fee; instead he has to find him a present - without knowing what he wants or needs - not costing too m uch more or too much less than the consultation, but also not com ing too close, because that would amount to stating the price of the consultation, thereby giving away the interested fiction that it was free. 22 "Y ouve saved me from having to sell is what is said in such cases to the lender who prevents land falling into the hands of a stranger, by means of a sort of fictitious sale (he gives the money while allowing the owner the continued use of his property). 23 M . Mauss, "Essai sur le d o n , in Sociologie et anthropologic (Paris: P U F , 195c), p. 239; trans. I. Cunnison as The G ift (L ondon, 1966), p. 52. 24 T he sacred character of the meal appears in the formulae used in swearing an


N otes fo r pp. 175-182

oa th : " By the food and the salt before us' or " By the food and the salt we have shared A pact sealed by eating together would becom e a curse for the man who betrayed it: "I do not curse him, the broth and the salt curse him . T o invite ones guest to take a second helping, one says: "T heres no need to swear, the food does it [for you] "T he food will settle its score with you [if you leave it]. A shared meal is also a ceremony of reconciliation, leading to the abandonment of vengeance. Similarly, an offering of food to a patron saint or the groups ancestor im plies a contract of alliance. T he th iw izi is inconceivable without the final meal: and thus it usually only brings together people of the same adhrum or the same thakharubth. There is strong disapproval of individuals who are no use to their family or the group, "dead men whom God has drawn from living m en , in the words of the verse of the Koran often applied to them: they are incapable of "pulling any w eigh t. T o remain idle, especially when one belongs to a great fam ily, is to shirk the duties and tasks which are an inseparable part of belonging to the group. And so a man who has been out of farming for som e tim e, because he has been away or been ill, is quickly found a place in the cycle of work and the circuit of the exchange of services. T h e group has the right to demand of each of its members that he should have an occupation, however unproductive, and it must therefore make sure that everyone is found an occupation, even a purely sym bolic one: the peasant who provides idlers with an opportunity to work on his land is universally approved, because he is giving marginal individuals a chance to integrate them selves into the group by doing their duty as men. T he cost of tim e rises with rising productivity (i.e. the quantity of goods offered for consum ption, and hence consum ption itself, which also takes tim e ); time thus tends to become scarcer, while the scarcity of goods dim inishes. Squandering of goods may even becom e the only way of saving tim e, which is now more valuable than the products which could be saved if :ime were devoted to maintenance and repair, etc. (cf. G. S. Becker, "A Theory of the Allocation of T im e , Economic Journal, 75, no. 289 (Septem ber 1965), pp. 493-517). T h is is no doubt the objective basis of the contrast in attitudes to time which has often been described. A variant of this contradiction is expressed in the saying "When the year is bad, there are always too many bellies to be filled; when it is good, there are never enough hands to do the w ork. It would not be difficult to show that debates about Berber (and more generally, ancient) "democracy similarly oppose first-degree naivety to second-degree naivety; the latter is perhaps the more pernicious, because the satisfaction derived from false lucidity makes it impossible to attain the adequate knowledge which simultaneously transcends and conserves the two forms of n aivety:" ancient democracy owes its specificity to the fact that it leaves im plicit and unquestioned (doxa) the principles which liberal "dem ocracy can and must profess (ortho doxy) because they have ceased to govern conduct in the practical state. T he man who "gives others no more than the time he ow es th em is reproached in terms like these: "Y ou ve only just arrived, and now youre off again. "Are you leaving us? Weve only just sat d o w n .. .W eve hardly spoken. T h e analogy between a m ans relationships with others and his relationship to the land leads to condemnation of the man who thoughtlessly hurries in his work and, like the guest who leaves almost as soon as he arrives, does not give it the care and time, i.e. the respect, which are its due. R. Maunier, Melanges de sociologie nord-africaine (Paris: Alcan, 1930), p. 68. Such tactics are, as far as possible, kept out of transactions between kinsmen,






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and there is disapproval of the man who takes advantage of the destitution of the person forced to sell. T h e trap is all the more infallible when, as in marriage, the circulation of im mediately perceptible material goods, such as the bridewealth, the apparent issue at stake in matrimonial negotiations, conceals the total circulation, actual or potential, of goods that are indissociably material and sym bolic, of which they are only the aspect most visible to the eye of the capitalist homo economicus. T he amount of the payment, always of small value in relative and absolute terms, would not justify the hard bargaining to which it gives rise, did it not take on a sym bolic value of the highest importance as the unequivocal demonstration of the worth of a fam ilys products on the matrimonial exchange market, and of the capacity of the heads of the family to obtain the best price for their products through their negotiating skills. T he best proof of the irreducibility of the stakes of matrimonial strategy to the amount of the bridewealth is provided by history, which here too has dissociated the sym bolic and material aspects of transactions: once reduced to its purely monetary value, the bridewealth lost its significance as a sym bolic rating, and the bargains of honour, thus reduced to the level of mere haggling, were from then on considered shameful. Although he fails to draw any real conclusions from it, in a work which proves disappointing, Bertrand Russell admirably expresses an insight into the analogy between energy and power which could serve as the basis for a unification of social science: "Like energy, power has many forms, such as wealth, armaments, civil authority, influence or opinion. N o one of these can be regarded as subordinate to any other, and there is no one form from which the others are derivative. T h e attempt to treat one form of power, say wealth, in isolation, can only be partially successful, just as the study of one form of energy will be defective at certain points, unless other forms are taken into account. Wealth may result from military power or from influence over opinion, just as either of these may result from w ealth (Power: A N ew Social Analysis (L ondon: Allen and U nw in, 1938), pp. 12-13). he goes on to define the programme for this unified science of social energy: "Power, like energy, must be regarded as continually passing from any one of its forms into any other, and it should be the business of social science to seek the laws of such transform ations (pp. 13-14). It has often been pointed out that the logic which makes the redistribution of goods the sine qua non of the continuation of power tends to reduce or prevent the primitive accumulation of econom ic capital and the developm ent of class division (cf. for example E. Wolf, Sons of the Shaking Earth (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959), p. 216). M. I. Finley, "Technical Innovation and Economic Progress in the Ancient W orld, Economic History Review, 18, 1 (August 1965), pp. 29-45, esp. p. 37; and see "Land D ebt and the Man of Property in Classical A th en s, Political Science Quarterly, 68 (1953), pp. 249-68. See P. Bohannan, "Som e Principles of Exchange and Investm ent among the T iv , American Anthropologist, 57, 1 (1955), pp. 60-70. K. Polyani, Primitive Archaic and M odem Economics, ed. George D alton, N ew York: D oubleday, 1968, and The Great Transformation, New York: Rinehart, 1944. It is rather paradoxical that in his contribution to a collection of essays edited by Karl Polyani, Francisco Benet pays so much attention to the contrast between the market and the village and scarcely mentions the factors which keep the local suq under the control of the values of the good-faith econom y (see F . Benet, "Explosive Markets: T h e Berber H ighlands, in K . Polyani, C. M. Arensberg,


N otes fo r p p . 185-189
and H. W. Pearson (ed s.), Trade and M arket in the E arly Empires, X ew York: Free Press, 1957). T he shady dealer cannot find anyone to answer for him (or his wares) and so he cannot demand guarantees from the buyer. T h e belief, often held in gnostic religions, that knowledge may be transmitted through various forms of magical contact - most typically, through a kiss - may be seen as an attempt to transcend the lim its of this mode of preservation: "Whatever it is that the practitioner learns, he learns from another dukun, who is his guru (teacher); and whatever he learns, he and others call his ilmu (science). Ilmu is generally considered to be a kind of abstract knowledge or supernormal skill, but by the more concrete-minded and 'old-fashioned, it is som etim es viewed as a kind of substantive magical power, in which case its transmission may be more direct than through teaching (C. Geertz, The Religion o f Java (L ondon: Collier-Macmillan, i960), p. 88). See in particular J. G oody and I. Watt, "T h e Consequences of Literacy", Com parative Studies in Society and History, 5, (1962-3), pp. 304ff., and J. G oody (ed .), Literacy in Traditional Societies, Cambridge: University Press, 1968. "T he poet is the incarnate book of the oral p eop le (J. A. N otopoulos, " Mnemosym e in Oral Literature , Transaclions and Proceedings o f the American Philological Association, 69 (1938), pp. 465-93, esp. p. 469). In a very impressive article, William C. Greene shows how a change in the mode of accumulation, circulation, and reproduction of culture results in a change in the function it is made to perform, together with a change in the structure of cultural products ("T he Spoken and the Written W ord, H arvard Studies in Classical Philology, 9 (1951), pp. 24-58). And Eric A. Havelock similarly shows that even the content of cultural resources is transformed by the transformation of "the technolog)' of preserved com m unication, and in particular, by the abandonment of mimesis, a practical reactivation m obilizing all the resources of a "pattern of organized actions - m usic, rhythm, words - for m nem onic purposes in an act of affective identification, in favour of written discourse, which, because it exists as a text, is repeatable, reversible, detached from the situation, and predisposed by its permanence to becom e the object of analysis, comparison, contrast, and reflexion (Preface to Plato, Cambridge, M ass.: Harvard U niversity Press, 1963). U ntil language is objectified in the written text, speech is inseparable from the speakers whole person, and in his absence it can be manipulated only in the mode of mimesis, which is not open to analysis or criticism. A social history of all forms of distinction (of which the title is a particular case) would have to show the social conditions and the consequences of the transition from a personal authority which can neither be delegated nor inherited (e.g . the gratia, esteem , influence, of the Romans) to the title - from honour to the jus honorum. In Rome, for exam ple, the use of titles (e.g . eques Romanus) defining a dignitas, an officially recognized position in the State (as distinct from a purely personal quality), was, like the use of insignia, progressively subjected to detailed control by custom or law (cf. C. N icolet, L ordre equestre a I epoque republicaine, vol. 1: Definitions juridiques et structures sociales (Paris, 1966), pp. 236-41). On this point see P. Bourdieu and L. Boltanksi, "L e titre et le poste: rapports entre le system e de production et le system e de reproduction, Actes de la Recherche en Sciences Sociales, no. 2, March 1975; trans. "Qualifications and Job s, C C C S Stencilled Paper 46 (U niversity of Birmingham, 1977). T h is is true, for example, t>f the charismatic (or meritocratic) ideology which explains the differential probability of access to academic qualifications by reference to the inequality of innate talent, thus reproducing the effect of the

38 39






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mechanisms which dissimulate the relationship between academic attainment and inherited cultural capital. 45 E. Durkheim, Montesquieu et Rousseau precurseurs de la sociologie (Paris: Riviere,

1953). P- 19746 Ibid. p. 195. T he analogy with the Cartesian theory' of continuous creation is perfect. And when L eibniz criticized a conception of God condem ned to move the world "as a carpenter moves his axe or as a miller drives his m illstone by directing the water towards the w h e e l (G . W. Leibniz, " D e ipsa natura, Opuscula philosophica selecta, ed. P. Shrecker (Paris: Boivin, 1939), p. 92), and put forward in place of the Cartesian universe, which cannot exist without unremitting divine attention, a physical universe endowed with a vis propria, he was initiating the critique, which did not find expression until much later (i.e. in Hegels introduction to the Philosophy of Right), of all form s of the refusal to acknowledge that the social world has a nature, i.e . an immanent necessity. 47 If acts of com m unication - exchanges of gifts, challenges, or words - always bear within them a potential conflict, it is because they always contain the possibility of domination. Symbolic violence is that form of domination w hich, transcending the opposition usually drawn between sense relations and power relations, com munication and dom ination, is only exerted through the comm unication in which it is disguised. 48 It can be seen that if one is trying to account for the specific form in which domination is realized in the pre-capitalist econom y, it is not sufficient to observe, as Marshall D . Sahlins does, that the pre-capitalist econom y does not provide the conditions necessary for an indirect, impersonal mode of domination, in which the workers dependence on the em ployer is the quasi-automatic product of the mechanisms of the labour market (cf. "Political Power and the Economy in Primitive S ociety, in G . E. D ole and R. L. Carneiro (ed s.). Essays in the Science of Culture (N ew York: Crowell, i960), pp. 390-415; "Poor Man, Rich Man, Big Man, Chief: Political T yp es in M elanesia and P olynesia, Comparative Studies in Society and H istory, 5 (1962-3), pp. 285-303; "On the Sociology of Primitive E xchange, in M. Banton (e d .), The Relevance o f Models fo r Social Anthropology (London: Tavistock, 1965), pp. 139-236). T hese negative conditions (which one is amply justified in pointing to when it is a question of countering any form of idealism or idealization) do not account for the internal logic of sy'mbolic violence, any more than the absence of the lightning rod and the electric telegraph, which Marx refers to in a fam ous passage in the introduction to the Grundrisse, can be used to explain Jupiter and H erm es, i.e. the internal logic of Greek mythology and art. 49 T he interactionist "gaze, which ignores the objective mechanism s and their operation, in order to look into the direct interactions between agents, would find an ideal terrain in this sort of society, i.e. precisely in the case in which, because of the relationship normally existing between the anthropologist and