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Archeology of Intangible Heritage

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Francisco Vaz da Silva

It is remarkable how often we consider certain constructs in other peoples’ worldview to be «myths», while in our own case we regard equally arbitrary assumptions as inherent to the nature of things. As every anthropologist knows, one’s most cherished cultural assumptions tend to remain implicit; in other words, worldview is largely unconscious. This book explores the possibility of plumbing obscure aspects of one’s own culture in order to assess what some might call (regarding other cultures) the mythic underpinnings of worldview. Seven explorations in folklore and ethnography exhume a conceptual heritage that still influences perception, albeit in unconscious ways. This archeology of intangible heritage provides the sort of break in intellectual routine that allows us to look anew at familiar things.