“The metaphoric properties of the term ‘blood’ in the works of Charles Darwin and Edith Durham: A comparison of conceptual frames”
Author(s)Thomas Wulstan CHRISTIANSEN
Contributor(s)Chiavetta E. / Sciarrino S.
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AbstractBlood the substance and the concept, has long been accorded special significance in both religion (see the different Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions relating to the status of blood and hence how it may be treated or consumed / or not) and in medical science (see Galen, of Pergamon, the Greek Physician, who saw it as the link between body and soul). Consequently, the term ‘blood’ has acquired a series of complex metaphorical meanings in many languages and has come to carry a great deal of “cultural baggage” (Rutman and Rutman 1984) even when used in scientific discourse, post-Harvey. In this study we examine how it is used in two very different oeuvres, that of Charles Darwin (1809-1882), who needs no introduction, and of Edith Durham (1863-1944), the anthropologist famous for her works on the inhabitants of the Balkans and northern Albania and their traditions (a complex patchwork of different ethnic groups including followers of both Christianity and Islam, still adhering in some respects to much older beliefs). This paper will examine the part played by blood as a metaphor for kinship and descendance in the exposition of Darwin’s theory of evolution, which famously failed to take genetics into consideration, and of Durham’s description of Northern Albanian society in particular the importance of so-called blood relationships within the Kanun (or set of traditional laws, then largely unwritten). Both oeuvres present examples of popularisation of science but interestingly moving in different directions, for Darwin, using a traditional “folk-science” concept to explain a radical new theory, and, in the case of Durham, explaining traditional concepts from a foreign culture in terms of anthropology and in another language (English). The method adopted will be to focus on the terms each scholar adopts and the experiential categories underlying them to expound their theory from the perspective of frame semantics (Fillmore 1976) and cognitive grammar (Langacker 1987/1991), from a corpus of 15 of Darwin’s works and 4 of Durham’s, and, secondly through comparison of these with others created from a parallel corpora of drawn from the popular magazine Scientific American (1881-1898).