Grievous Death

Heonik Kwon

in After the Massacre

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780520247963
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520939653 | DOI:
Grievous Death

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This chapter deals with the ritual of reburial in Vietnamese culture. It is believed that the spirits of the dead, in negative physical circumstances, continue to relive the dreadful drama of violent death, and that they are unable to find a way out of it on their own. This is how ritual interventions become necessary to break the perpetual captivity. Reburial in this context contributes to dividing the life of the dead into past and present. In traditional Vietnamese belief, the morality of death was understood not only in temporal-genealogical and spatial-concentric terms but also in a legal language, suggesting that death could be “just” or “unjust.” In this regard, this chapter also introduces the idea of “liberation from grievance”, a concept central to understanding popular Vietnamese war commemoration practices.

Keywords: Vietnamese culture; ritual interventions; reburial; morality; liberation; grievance

Chapter.  7510 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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