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Grave matters : a lively history of death around the world

Author: Nigel Barley
Publisher: New York : H. Holt, 1997.
Edition/Format:   Book : English : 1st American edView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
The one universal fact of life is death. Yet different cultures define and react to death so variously that the events surrounding it are a key indicator of the exuberant inventiveness of each society. In Madagascar the bereaved may be required to engage in drunken incest, in contemporary America to watch the postmortem video. The Yoruba of Nigeria mourn the young but joyfully celebrate the life and death of the
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Genre/Form: Cross-cultural studies
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Nigel Barley
ISBN: 0805048243 9780805048247
OCLC Number: 36877430
Notes: Originally published: Dancing on the grave. Great Britain : J. Murray.
"A John Macrae book."
Description: 240 p. ; 24 cm.
Contents: 1. The Universality of Death --
2. Before and after the Fact --
3. The Mythical Place of Death --
4. The Quick and the Dead: Relations across the Grave --
5. Only Flesh and Blood --
6. Political Deaths --
7. Fixed Abode: Time, Place and Death --
8. Metaphors We Die By --
9. From the Cradle to the Grave --
10. Getting Ahead: War, Murder and Capital Punishment --
11. In Memoriam.
Other Titles: Dancing on the grave
Responsibility: Nigel Barley.

Abstract:

The one universal fact of life is death. Yet different cultures define and react to death so variously that the events surrounding it are a key indicator of the exuberant inventiveness of each society. In Madagascar the bereaved may be required to engage in drunken incest, in contemporary America to watch the postmortem video. The Yoruba of Nigeria mourn the young but joyfully celebrate the life and death of the old. In Melanesia, the Dobu stress "replacement": the living step into the shoes of the deceased, regardless of the havoc wrought on the rules of kinship.

Death is shown to be more than an individual experience. Anthropologist Nigel Barley writes that his colleagues long ago decided to give it a big role in the collective drama of life. Malinowski, for example, saw it as the origin of all religion, and later ethnologists have seen the fear and denial of death as the origin of all culture. Grave Matters reveals that the body may be preserved or obliterated, transformed into furniture or eaten. Everywhere death is not just a window on eternity but a mirror in which we see ourselves in all our human diversity and the variety of our purposes.

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