Celebrations of Death: The Anthropology of Mortuary Ritual by Peter Metcalf

By Peter Metcalf

This revised variation of a cross-cultural research of rituals surrounding demise has turn into a typical textual content in anthropology, sociology, and faith. a part of its fascination and luck is that during knowing different people's demise rituals we can achieve a greater realizing of our personal. Peter Metcalf and Richard Huntington seek advice from a large choice of examples from various continents and epochs. They examine the nice tombs of the Berawan of Borneo and the pyramids of Egypt, or the dramas of medieval French royal funerals and the burial alive of the Dinka "masters of the spear" within the Sudan, and different burials which initially sight appear to have little in universal. a lot of those circumstances are anthropological classics, and the authors use those examples partially to be able to illustrate the various alternative ways within which anthropologists have attempted to interpret those rites. a brand new creation stories theoretical advancements within the anthropological examine of loss of life because the ebook first seemed in 1979.

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There are few reliable accounts of the ways in which we die. Nowadays, very few of us actually witness the deaths of those we love. Not many people die at home anymore, and those who do are usually the victims of drawn-out diseases or chronic degenerative conditions in which drugging and narcosis effectively hide the biological events that are occurring. Of the approximately 80 percent of Americans who die in a hospital, almost all are in large part concealed, or at least the details of the final approach to mortality are concealed, from those who have been closest to them in life.

His eyes seemed to have pushed themselves forward in one bulging thrust, as though they were trying to leap out of his head. He took one immensely long, gurgling breath, and died. I shouted out his name, and then I shouted for Dave, but I knew no one could hear me in the hectic polio room all the way down the corridor. I could have run down the hallway and tried to get help, but that would have meant the loss of precious seconds. My fingers felt for the carotid artery in McCarty’s neck, but it was pulseless and still.

Her story has strengthened my faith in the power of selfless love. The entire text of How We Die was read by several people of disparate backgrounds, whose comments proved extremely helpful in my own final scrutiny: Joan Behar, Robert Burt, Judith Cuthbertson, Margaret DeVane, and James Ponet. It goes without saying that Bob Massey and Sarah Peterson made numerous critical contributions as they reviewed the evolving work, chapter by chapter. ” I always made the changes when she pointed them out—even her charity has its limits.

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