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Funerals and materially expressed commemoration practices are often the most evident activities death entails. In many regions across the world, they are by far the most important life cycle events. This panel explores the social, economic, political, and material scope of death in its varied ways.
Death marks an important moment in life - while it ceases the physical existence of an individual, it significantly extends into the lives of those left behind. Anthropologically, death is acknowledged a "fait sociale totale" (Hertz 1907), and how people deal with death socially, spiritually, and economically remains object of anthropological investigations (Goodwin-Hawkins and Dawson 2018); recently, these have focused mainly on two main interests: how life persists, and the dead body in its iconical and indexical forms (Engelke 2019).
Funerals and materially expressed commemoration practices, such as the construction of graves, are often the most evident activities death entails. Across the world, they are by far the most important and most elaborate life cycle events. While revolving around the life of the deceased, these events activate social relationships and networks that extend far beyond the family. They often serve as a platform for descendants and otherwise related persons to stage themselves socially, economically, and politically.
We invite fresh ethnographic papers dealing with the economic, religious, political, and material aspects death entails in varied ways. Contributions may focus both on communities in their home countries as well as diasporic communities. These may include studies on how the COVID pandemic has impacted funerals and their related activities. Questions also may revolve around materially and spatially expressed commemoration practices.
Elizabeth Davis (Princeton University)
Sally Raudon (University of Cambridge)
Lynne McIntyre (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)