Accepted paper:

Disrupted Journeys: A study of death and burial among Muslim migrants in Athens, Greece

Authors:

Tina Palivos (Yale University )

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the beliefs, experiences, and practices surrounding the death of Muslim immigrants in Athens, Greece, an area in which there is no Muslim cemetery. By tracing the social life of the corpse to the morgue, the border patrol, the customs office, the airport, and the cemetery, this study investigates the increasingly challenging dilemma of where and how to bury the bodies of men, women, and children Muslim migrants who have died on Greek soil or have arrived dead on its shores.

Paper long abstract:

What does the death of an immigrant subject reveal about "personhood" or "humanness" with regard to religion, law, human rights, and the state in the 21st century? How have funerary practices and notions of death among Muslims been affected by globalization? This paper explores these questions through a case study of the beliefs, experiences, and practices surrounding the death of Muslim immigrants in Athens, Greece. Currently, there are no Muslim cemeteries in Athens or its environs. Consequently, Muslims (nationals and immigrants) who die in Greece are either (1) falsely presented as Christian in order to be buried locally (by friends, family or strangers); (2) sent to northern Greece to be buried in Thrace where there is a protected Muslim minority; (3) repatriated to their countries of origin, or (4) buried in unmarked graves. By tracing the social life of the corpse to the morgue, the border patrol, the customs office, the airport, and the cemetery, this study investigates the increasingly challenging dilemma of where and how to bury the bodies of men, women, and children Muslim migrants who have died on Greek soil or have arrived dead on its shores. The study of death and immigration from this perspective reveals the ways that law, religion, and the state create particular notions of personhood that are embedded within complex power relations, culturally specific notions of morality, and the presumed temporality of the modern liberal subject.

panel LD37
Changes in death rituals in the Middle East (IUAES Commission on Middle East Anthropology)