Accepted paper:

Where the dead lives: the construction of death and the dead within the funeral circuits in Brazil


Marcos Freire de Andrade Neves

Paper short abstract:

The paper describes the process of construction of death and the dead within different institutional instances of the funeral circuits in Brazil. A dynamic in which the dead has agency through the imposition of a moral presence, being capable of taking part in negotiations and influencing decisions.

Paper long abstract:

"Car la Mort, dans une société, il faut bien qu'elle soit quelque part," wrote Roland Barthes. If we accept Barthes' premise and look for the place of death, then we must consider the possibility of finding not a specific place, but a set of constantly moving mediations. Conducted in the city of Porto Alegre, Brazil, the ethnographic research presented by this paper describes the dynamics within this set of mediations, which not only pervades different institutional and economic instances, but also shapes the construction process of death and of the dead person through a physical intervention on the body as well as through the creation of a specific memory. Death is thus more than the mere destitution of a life: it is the institution of a new state, it means becoming something else. A new set of papers are in order as much as the transposition of the legal status. The funeral circuits are hence acting upon the construction of this new state while simultaneously acknowledging the dead person's presence through the imposition of a moral and corporeal presence. The dead person, not being a locus of passivity, displays his/hers agency by setting behavioral guidelines in dealings concerning his/hers funeral arrangements, as well as by influencing choices and decisions through his/hers presence within the aforementioned dynamics.

panel P16
The 'evidence' of death: necrographic accounts on death perspectives