Lamaštu, the Stranger

Zdrojový dokument: Sacra. 2022, roč. 20, č. 1, s. 7-25
  • ISSN
    1214-5351 (print)
    2336-4483 (online)
Type: Článek
Licence: Neurčená licence
The Mesopotamian demoness Lamaštu is commonly portrayed in the sources as an attacker of babies and mothers, who often commits her crimes disguised as a nanny or a wet nurse. The paper analyses her nature through the pattern of strangeness: a subjective attribute of difference from known patterns, related to unacceptability and danger. I suggest that Lamaštu's nature is expressed as a negation and estrangement of cultural identities, such as humanity, indigenousness, womanhood, and professional childcare. The former two identities encompass and define the whole of the indigenous society, therefore, any patterns of their negation must lie beyond the society's borders in principle. However, the latter two represent only a specific part of society and their strange forms may appear within its borders, which makes them problematic. Their connection to the former two might deny their ambivalence and relate their danger to absolute strangeness. The paper then finds specific patterns of strangeness in relation to social positions of nannies and women, and in the context of gender transgression and patriarchal structures.
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