Housing Others in Rebirths

Rebecca M. Empson

in Harnessing Fortune

Published by British Academy

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780197264737
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191753992 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs

Housing Others in Rebirths

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This chapter explores the relationship between memory and kinship, showing how people's bodies can also be viewed as the containers that ‘house’ deceased kin. This is necessary because a sense of being separated from one's relatives embraces many levels of life for pastoral herders in Ashinga. Primarily, there is a sense of absence from place as the Buriads escaped war and disruption in Russian Buryatia and migrated to Mongolia in the early 1900s. In Mongolia, the Buriad were heavily persecuted during the socialist period and people were prohibited from communicating with their ancestors through shamanic performance. Intra-kin rebirths, common to most families in this area, provide a way in which to negotiate the politics of memory and wider feelings of loss. Nevertheless, when people are born into a world where they are both the rebirth of their grandfather and the daughter of someone in the present, life becomes a process of learning how to separate out this multiplicity in order that one may become the son or daughter of a person in the present.

Keywords: memory; kinship; bodies; deceased kin; Buriad; pastoral herders; relatives; Buryatia

Chapter.  12280 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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