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December 2021

Binding and separating: The ritual functions of meat in the Islamic world

Journal/Book: Homme. 1999; Marie Louise Dufour 131 Boulevard Saint-Michel, 75005 Paris, France. Ecoles Haute Etud Sci Sociales. 89-114.

Abstract: The consumption of meat is, as has often been observed, exceptional in the Islamic world. It is closely related to the major events that mark a rupture in, or give a rhythm to, social life. The earing of meat is usually collective. The ideal victim is always a domesticated animal, preferably a ruminant. These three quite well-known facts, as well as others, can be explained if we consider meat to be a food for binding and separating. Through it, bonds are reproduced among group members, or new ones formed with outsiders. This ritual function of meat is, in turn, explained by the particular status of domesticated ruminants in the Islamic world.

Note: Article Benkheira MH, EPHE, Sect 5e, F-75006 Paris, FRANCE

Keyword(s): Islam; animal; meat-eating; food prohibition; transgression

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