Oral Tradition as History

By Jan Vansina,

Book cover of Oral Tradition as History

Book description

Jan Vansina's 1961 book, Oral Tradition, was hailed internationally as a pioneering work in the field of ethno-history. Originally published in French, it was translated into English, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, and Hungarian. Reviewers were unanimous in their praise of Vansina's success in subjecting oral traditions to intense functional analysis.

Now,…

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Why read it?

1 author picked Oral Tradition as History as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The second edition of this book is the one I read, more than thirty years ago, and it taught me a respect for oral traditions that I had not then fully rationalized. Literate people often disparage those who can neither read nor write, suggesting they could not possibly have any useful knowledge to contribute to a literate world. This is what I have termed ‘the arrogance of literacy’ and is something Vansina, following decades of familiarity with African oral traditions, shows to be baseless. Orally communicated knowledge was key to survival and to understanding one’s place in the world. This…

From Patrick's list on ancient oral traditions.

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