Hyenas and heteroglossia: myth and ritual among the Beng of Côte d'Ivoire


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By focusing on how the Beng depict hyenas in oral literature and how they treat living hyenas in ritual activities, this article explores how each of these domains makes radically different statements about a single subject. In both cases, hyenas represent a form of subversion of society, but the value such subversion is given contrasts dramatically in the two realms under discussion. Bakhtin's concept of “heteroglossia” is used as a model for analyzing how two distinct realms of meaning in a single society may exist in mutual contradiction. [symbolic anthropology, myth, ritual, animal symbolism, laughter, West Africa] 1989 American Anthropological Association

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-501
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Ethnologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology


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