A potential Classic: On Brita Egardt's Hästslakt och rackarskam
If ethnologists were to put together their own list of classic texts, what books should be included, and for what reasons? This question was posed as an invitation to a workshop at the 30th Nordic meeting of ethnologists and folklorists in June, 2006, and brought about, in the first place, a little handful of suggested books. This paper presents one of these: Brita Egardt's dissertation "Hästslakt och rackarskam" (app.: The slaughter of horses and the shame of the slaughterer), published in 1962. My suggestion is that this study can serve as a model for ethnologists because it is extremely cogently thought and argued, and because of its focus, at the end of the analysis, on general social phenomena and processes such as hierarchy, exclusion and stigmatisation. In addition, I reflect on the posthumous reputation of the author of the book, and suggest further reflection on two issues. The first is marginalisation in academic contexts. If such a fate should affect any of us, how can it be handled, and how can personal bitterness be avoided? The other issue is academic leadership, which I suggest is a composite phenomenon that ought to be thoroughly rethought.