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Tamed Violence: Genital Symbolism in Portuguese Popular Culture

Joao de Pina-Cabral
Man
New Series, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Mar., 1993), pp. 101-120
DOI: 10.2307/2804438
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2804438
Page Count: 20
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Tamed Violence: Genital Symbolism in Portuguese Popular Culture
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Abstract

This article analyses a series of ceramic objects displaying genital images produced in Caldas da Rainha, Portugal. These objects are the props for more or less elaborate practical jokes. An attempt is made to interpret the operation of these jokes by dialoguing with Freud's theses on the topic. Two Mechanisms of operation are identified: genital exposure and imposition of the phallus. It is argued that the second is a form of adjuration which takes recourse to the powers invested in the phallic order - that is, the fact that male identity and paternity are founded on the subordination of women. Although violence is implicit in the process of its institution, phallic power becomes accessible to both men and women and in this way is tamed.

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