By Gabriele vom Bruck, Barbara Bodenhorn

This publication is set own names, anything of abiding curiosity to experts and lay readers alike. Over one million humans have checked the yank identify Society web site on account that 1996, for example. Many philosophers and linguists recommend that names are 'just' labels, yet mom and dad across the world are decided to get their kid's names 'right'. own names should be given, misplaced, traded, stolen and inherited. This choice of essays offers comparative ethnography by which we study the politics of naming; the level to which names will be property-like; and the facility of names themselves, either to mend and to destabilize own id. Our objective is not just to resume anthropological realization to names and naming, yet to teach how this intersects with present pursuits in political techniques, the relation among our bodies and private identities, ritual and day-by-day social lifestyles.

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Establishing a link between names and gendered embodiment, Butler makes two basic points. The announcement of a “girl” after the birth of a female child initiates a compulsory enactment of certain gender dispositions. The name can also be the principal site of displaced gender identification (“crossing”) which however produces a fractured, unstable identity (Butler 1993:143, 156). Both of these points deserve further examination, the grounds for which are offered by material in this volume. Humphrey’s discussion of the constraints on speech visited upon Buryat women exemplifies Butler’s first point: speech as well as other bodily practices comprise the normative performance of certain 24 THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF NAMES AND NAMING gender dispositions.

29 The process of the gradual fusion and eventual loss of individuality and gender in ancestorhood is intertwined with the cumulative generative power with ENTANGLED IN HISTORIES 25 which people imbue particular places throughout their lives and especially after death. Paradoxically and in stark contrast to Hong Kong women who never attain full personhood by reason of losing their names (Watson 1986), gradual depersonalization is synonymous with the resumption of the status of a respected elder who becomes a channel to the ancestors.

Cindy Cummings (1984) from Sheboygan, Wisconsin tells of her “first and only son” who was miscarried at three months’ gestation. Writing six months later, on what had been his due date, Christmas Day, she presents her decision to name him as a Christmas gift to him. Sometimes women decide to name their baby after an even longer interval. Mary Lou Eddy (1986) of Schenectady, New York, reported in a SHARE newsletter that she had recently named her baby who had died ten years earlier, presumably by grace of a new law, which was announced elsewhere in that issue.

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