Groote Eylandt Totemism and Le Totémisme aujourd’hui

  • Peter Worsley


The two quotations at the head of this article only refer obliquely — and most affectionately — to the writing of that most respected and creative of colleagues, Claude Lévi-Strauss; they bear more centrally upon the thinking of the Australian aborigines. I have no desire, that is, to be cast in the role of a simple-minded English empiricist breaking a lance for God, Harry and the Cult of the Fact against the dragon of Gallic systematics. Even though the orientation of this paper was originally suggested to me as the presentation of Australian aboriginal totemism ‘as it really is’, such a ‘pure’ empiricist brief is logically impossible, for ‘as it really is’ (shades of Ranke!) has to be translated ‘as it really is in contradistinction to Lévi-St, auss’s interpretations’. As Lévi-Strauss would no doubt be the first to observe, an analysis of totemism ‘as it really is’ cannot exist ‘in itself’, but implies its opposite.


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  1. 4.
    Cf. Lévi-Strauss (1963a), p. 65: ‘Time and space modalities of the universal laws which make up the unconscious activity of the mind’.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1970

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  • Peter Worsley

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