Fàilte! (Welcome!)

Fàilte! (Welcome!)
This blog is the result of my ongoing research into the people, places and events that have shaped the Western Isles of Scotland and, in particular, the 'Siamese-twins' of Harris and Lewis.
My interest stems from the fact that my Grandfather was a Stornowegian and, until about four years ago, that was the sum total of my knowledge, both of him and of the land of his birth.
I cannot guarantee the accuracy of everything that I have written (not least because parts are, perhaps, pioneering) but I have done my best to check for any errors.
My family mainly lived along the shore of the Sound of Harris, from An-t-Ob and Srannda to Roghadal, but one family 'moved' to Direcleit in the Baighs...

©Copyright 2011 Peter Kerr All rights reserved

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Seasonal Variations of the Eskimo:

A Study in Social Morphology
Marcel Mauss 1904/5

I recall being sufficiently fascinated by this Durkheimian piece of Sociology as to elect to write an undergraduate essay about it. The phenomenon that Mauss was examining was that of the people living in large communal houses during the Winter and then dispersing into nuclear family units for the Summer. The details of what he discovered are beyond the scope of this current piece, but  'A recent study of 183 societies supports the hypothesis 'that different types of rites and the elaborateness of public rituals are determined by social density'

What I'm pondering at this moment are possible/probable Norse origins of 'seasonal transhumance' in the Western Isles (the use of summer shielings) and possible links to patterns of ritual behaviour that exist to this day.

Is the traditional pattern of biannual Communion services on the isles vestigial evidence of pre-christian rituals, one at the end of Winter and the other at the end of Summer, that were originally 'determined by social density' which varied during the year?

These 'Communion Seasons' are spread out over several days and are literally a 'coming-together' of families from all over the world to participate in a manner reminiscent of Mauss's study.

That study of 183 societies suggests that we would expect to see some sign of seasonal variations in rituals on the isles, whether or not the communion practices are truly an example remains to be shown.

No comments:

Post a Comment