Dangerous Remains: Towards a History of Tapu

Jeffrey Sissons


The historical and cultural focus of this article is a connected sequence of rites performed by and on behalf of Maori kin groups in the mid-19th century aimed at polluting sacred groves (wāhi tapu). I argue that these rites were a logical sequel to others aimed at removing the tapu (sacredness) from chiefs prior to mass conversion to Christianity in the early 1840s. Both sets of rites sought the separation of gods from kin-groups, a process that entailed a transformation of the nature of tapu.


sacred sites; ritual pollution; tapu; Deleuze; mythopraxis

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11157/sites-vol13iss2id323