Accepted paper:

How is death socialised in Javanese society? A comparative and pragmatic perspective on the earth sojourn and its following


Jean-Marc de Grave (Aix-Marseille Université)

Paper short abstract:

Javanese conceptions dealing with death must be understood alongside current everyday practices dealing with the notion of "loyalty" and concomitant social relationships. Comparatively speaking, such embodied practices and values take Javanese people away from the fear of death.

Paper long abstract:

I will present a set of Javanese practices aiming to socialise death and dead people. These include current practices such as flowering graves on different occasions, visiting deceased relatives, masters or valorous figures, prayer, meditation, meeting with the graveyard's guardian, binds to sacred heirlooms, commemoration of the dead - and Javanese conceptions dealing with the "brief" earth life sojourn. From these descriptions we can infer a broader understanding of everyday Javanese life. One complementary point stands in the apparent contradiction with the central notion of loyalty (kasetyan) in which to commit oneself means to side against somebody on particular confrontational occasions at the risk of one's life. I will argue that the hindsight the Javanese can apply towards what happens to them - particularly as regards death - relies on the special attention they pay towards their relation to others and to the world. The concomitant conception of action induces a conception of life and death which functions according to a particular Javanese rationality. Comparing Javanese practices with conceptions about death in secular modernity, it appears that the focus on individuals, the way of life centred on the nuclear family in which the role of other family members is very reduced, the limited or subordinated character of proximal relations (family, neighbourhood, dead relatives) drives us away from actual practices that induce the kind of sharing necessary to facilitate existence on a different level of social being.

panel LD14
Disjunctions of deathscapes: ways of suffering, dying, and death