chapter  35
6 Pages

Declan Quigley The Paradoxes of Monarchy

But is this all there is to it, a question of exposure? Is royalty simply one victim among others in the modern addiction to open up what was previously hidden? Anthropologists have had curiously little to say about monarchies in modern democracies, given the huge and extraordinarily rich literature on traditional kingship (rather less on queenship) ranging across the globe and encompassing societies of every size – from the smallest Pacific islands through the classic cases of sub-Saharan Africa to the complex city-kingdoms of South and South-East Asia.1 This demographic and geographic spread is paralleled by an exciting range of theoretical questions revolving around the nature and functions of political ritual (and indeed of ritual in general) and the social roles of myth and symbolism, particularly those relating to transcendence and the sacred. Perhaps less obvious to the non-initiate,

■ THE PARADOXES OF MONARCHY, Anthropology Today, 11.5, October 1995, pp. 1-3

but also central in analysis after analysis of the institutional devices of kingship, are questions relating to scapegoats and sacrifice as well as to royal reversals of ‘ordinary’ social codes, most famously those concerned with incest avoidance. Even a relatively superficial survey of royal ritual gives one the impression of a microcosmic study of some of the core themes in the emergence of social anthropology as an academic discipline.