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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Sacrifice: A Polythetic Class of Atuot Religious Thought
Author:Burton, John W.ISNI
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Sudan
Subjects:African religions
sacrificial rites
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/1581259
Abstract:This essay is inspired largely by Needham's recent assertion that if an appreciation of polythetic modes of classification can advance the comparative study of social facts, 'it is desirable that more detailed empirical demonstrations should be fully set out'. In a more modest vein, the present brief essay is equally an attempt to understand that while these acts are common to many of their social and religious festivities, Atuot (a group of approximately 35,000 Nilotic-speaking pastoralists living west of the Nile in Lakes Province of the Southern Sudan) lack any single term that could be literally glossed as 'sacrifice'. Rather, like the neighbouring Nuer and Dinka, Atuot employ the phrase 'kill a cow' (nake yang) idiomatically to designate a great variety of 'sacrificial' acts and contexts. The author attempts to argue the case that this usage, like that of polythetic classification, is not intended as a programme for eliminating variations monothetically, but is used 'as a means of accommodating as many as possible'. Notes.