Chapter

Dialectics of Contact and Separation in Mourning

Rupert Stasch

in Society of Others

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780520256859
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943322 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520256859.003.0007
Dialectics of Contact and Separation in Mourning

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This chapter investigates the understandings of death and practices of mourning. Korowai make a person's death the measure of survivors' ongoing relations. Historically, as well as sporadically in recent times, Korowai upset about deaths sometimes conspired to kill an alleged witch. Korowai are deeply wrenched by the existence of witches in their world and by the tragic histories of witch execution that have touched all persons' lives. The demon figure shows how people's consciousness of death centers on a problem of being connected by a history of close consociation to someone now deeply strange, such that basic media of human relating such as bodily presence or food giving are now filled with distress. Korowai fashion their mutual attachments in part by thinking about how intensely they will mourn each other's future deaths and by acting materially on that thought.

Keywords: death; mourning; Korowai; witch; demon

Chapter.  19722 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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