Kalunga, the Ambient Dead

Todd Ramón Ochoa

in Society of the Dead

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780520256835
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947924 | DOI:
Kalunga, the Ambient Dead

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This chapter describes the notion of the dead as a concept prior to individuation or identification. The author spent his apprenticeship with Isidra trying to understand what Isidra found in her gut and on her skin. She ascribed these feelings in a most general sense to Kalunga, which she also called el muerto—the vast and ever-proliferating sea of the dead. Kalunga, according to Isidra, exist between the living and their senses as an infinite yet barely evident kingdom of thinking and feeling that seized those who were attuned to it. The dead permeate people as living individuals and saturate them with their frightening yet hopeful indeterminacy. Isidra considered everyday experiences such as sleeplessness and pangs of anxiety not as “signs” of the dead in her body but as versions of the dead in themselves.

Keywords: Kalunga; ambient dead; el muerto; body

Chapter.  4126 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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