1st Edition

Knots Ethnography of the Moral in Culture and Social Thought

Edited By David Lipset, Eric K. Silverman Copyright 2023
    262 Pages 75 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Knots are well known as symbols of moral relationships. This book develops an exciting new view of this otherwise taken-for-granted image and considers their metaphoric value in and for moral order. In chapters that focus on Japan, China, Europe, South America and in several Pacific Island societies, granular ethnography depicts how knots are deployed to express unity in daily and ritual embodiment, political authority and the cosmos, as well as in social thought. The volume will be of interest to anthropologists and other scholars concerned with metaphor and symbolism, material culture and technology.

    1 Knots as moral relationship

    David Lipset and Eric K. Silverman

    Part 1: Personhood and Society

    2 Knots in Sumo Wrestling and Japan

    Kenji Tierney

    3 Knots and entanglements in Japan

    Ellen Schattschneider

    4 Canoes, knots and the concept of the person in the Sepik (Papua New Guinea)

    Eric K. Silverman and David Lipset

    5 Making Manus social fabric (Papua New Guinea)

    Michelle Nayahmui Rooney

    Part 2: State and Cosmos

    6 The knotted empire of the Inka State

    Gary Urton

    7 Weaving metaphors and cosmo-political thought in early China

    David Pankenier

    8 Knots at the edge of order in the Northeast Kula Ring (Papua New Guinea)

    Frederick H. Damon

    9 The knot in the Pacific body politic

    Susanne Küchler

    10 Knots of authority and sanctity in ancient Hawaii

    Adrienne Kaeppler

    Part 3: Social Thought

    11 Anthropology’s entanglement with ‘Europe’

    Sarah Green

    12 Afterword: Knots as Moral Reflexivity

    David Lipset and Eric K. Silverman


    David Lipset is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, USA.

    Eric K. Silverman, former Professor of Anthropology at Wheelock College, is now Resident Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, USA.