Maurice Bloch

Prey into Hunter: The Politics of Religious Experience Publication date : April 1, 1997

Maurice Bloch, an ethnologist and professor at the University of Cambridge and at the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, is well-known for his theory on rituals. He shows that human societies are worried about their permanence. However, this worry is incompatible with the reality of the human condition, which is characterized by sure death. Societies have thus all invented a world beyond, or beyond to this world. They have created a world of eternity and immortality. The function of the rituals is to organize the passage from the real world to the eternal world, thus periodically reaffirming the eternal quality of the social group.By taking examples from both "primitive" societies and from hightly developed societies such as Japan, he shows how eternal peace is paid for with violence, that is, the sacrifice of the individual, which can go as far as putting him to death. This book offers an extremely original analysis of the relation between violence and religion.