The Orifice as Sacrificial Site: Culture, Organization and the Body

1st Edition

James Aho

Routledge
Published September 30, 2002
Reference - 165 Pages
ISBN 9780202306742 - CAT# Y364062
Series: Sociological Imagination & Structural Change Series

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Summary

The Orifice as Sacrificial Site bases its argument on expert histories and primary documents of selected religions. Although based on textual analysis and documentary evidence this is essentially a social study. The goal of Aho's study is to discover explanatory principles of orifice management, rather than to expound on the peculiarities of individual faiths. The work locates the attributes religions share, instead of the qualities that differentiate them. The argument of the book is that these preeminently private sites are in reality "publicly accomplished." The most secret reaches of our personal geographies, our orifices, are products of more encompassing structural circumstances, of which we have only a dim grasp. Thus, one can speak with appropriate caution, of a prototypical "Jewish mouth," and of a uniquely different "Christian mouth"; of orthodox "Brahmanic genitals" and of their diametric opposites, "tantric genitals." The task of this fascinating study is to elucidate the nature of these mysterious precincts and, above all, to demonstrate how they have come to acquire the special qualities they do. In order to do this, the author examines the prophetic moment of a people's cultural ethos, the circumstances surrounding that point in time during which their dominant faith acquired its characteristic "orifice signature"; and second, to the organizational matters concerning that faith, its boundary concerns, internal hierarchies and disputes, and the external market situation. The author aims to show how the social regulation of bodily orifices is, if not mechanically determined, at least made understandable in light of religious and theological concerns. These are examined through a social science lens that offers amply illustrated, detailed, cross-cultural studies of orifice taboos in Christianity, ancient Judaism, Brahmanism, tantric Hinduism, and some tribal cultures. Aho's argument will add support for the theory that orifices are at the center of all political and religious disputes. James Aho is professor of sociology at Idaho State University. Among his earlier books are two celebrated studies of survivalist and hate groups in the northwest, The Politics of Righteousness and This Thing of Darkness.

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