Re: Left/Right Culture

Matthew Hill (mhill@WATARTS.UWATERLOO.CA)
Sun, 27 Mar 1994 12:59:04 -0500

On Sat, 26 Mar 1994, Steve Mizrach wrote:

> Heeding JOBRIEN's call, I think I'll throw in a thread here, so as to get
> some anthropological minds moving again.
> To wit: Left and Right. In many European societies, the word meaning "left"
> also means "wicked" or "improper," e.g. "gauche" or "sinister." Many
> cultures assign 'impure' tasks to the left hand and force undesirable
> groups to occupy the left side of the street. The left is associated with
> inversion or subversion (esp. in the political lexicon) and the Devil (this
> is where he perches; the guardian angel sits on the right.)
> Does anyone know of any good works revolving around how various societies
> view the left side of the body, and whether the denigration of the left and
> its associations is found outside of Western civilization? Do all cultures
> associate the left with the feminine, the passive, the negative, etc.? Is
> this a universal human phenomenon, or not?

Rodney Needham, ed. about 1973
Right and Left:Essays on Dual Symbolic Classification. University
of Chicago Press

Doesn't the UF library catalogue have keyword query?