Isn't S/He a Doll: Play and Ritual in African Sculpture

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From Preface: "This publication challenges the prevailing opinion among scholars of African art that the word doll is an inappropriate designation for many genres of African art to which it is often applied. The word, it seems, evokes a limited set of images that are incompatible with the stereotype of African sculpture as objects laden with ritual and religious associations, associations which to many minds preclude any consideration of play as part of their existence. Our basic premise for this volume is that the problem is not the application of doll to African contexts but rather a profound misunderstanding of what a doll is. Playing with dolls, we argue, is serious business, and we in the United States and elsewhere in the Western world probably take ours too lightly. While the average parent views these figures as relatively inconsequential objects, it is becoming increasingly clear to social scientists that they can be active in establishing value systems and constructing identities...."

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