Casting Out Anger: Religion Among the Taita of Kenya - Grace Gredys HarrisCambridge, London, New York & Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1978, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Very Good Dust Wrapper. Dust wrapper a little age-toned. Extensive pencil underlining and marginalia throughout the text, from the working library of Paul Spencer, one of the leading British social anthropologists of his generation, from whose estate this was acquired alongside a slip from the institute asking for a review.
Number 21 in the series. Contains: Black & white photographs; Tables;
From the cover: “This account of an East African religion as it was during the 1950s discusses a variety of current issues in the study of religion, within the context of case materials and other field data.
The Taita people of southern Kenya called their religion Butasi after its central act which combined utterance with spraying out of liquid from the mouth. Taking up the central theme of mystical anger, Dr Harris explores the social and cultural aspects of doctrines and rituals. She shows that the interpretation and shaping of the experience of misfortune occurred in religious inter-action: between living humans having mystical attributes, and between them and person-like mystical agencies.
Whether in the lives of individuals or in the ritual activities of communities, Taita religion traced the linkage between familial life and political institutions. Dr Harris holds that that linkage helps to account for both the differing moral careers of men and women and the differing scope of the mystical power attributed to them.
While not denying that ritual elements (or ‘symbols’) have metaphorical, expressive aspects, Dr Harris emphasizes their power in action, as they create and present the realities of the world as lived by religious actors. Among the speech elements of ritual, she argues, performative utterances contribute to this active, realizing function. Dr Harris further demonstrates the connections between Taita ritual elements and everyday bodily acts and functions as socially evaluated. In so doing she shows how human body parts and processes were connected, in thought and practice, with animal bodies, vegetation, and even the surrounding landscape. A formal comparison of the patterns of elements in two rituals demonstrates that the same themes extended across the wider ritual system that included religion.
Many of the concepts, practices, themes, and elements discussed have been reported for other African religions, often with little comment or analysis. Here they are brought together, explored, and related to one another. The result is a many-sided, yet integrated picture of a single religion. Presented in clear and non-technical language, the study serves to illuminate many religions throughout the world.”