The Anthropology of Death

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ANTH 4850:  The Anthropology of Death
Spring 2024
T 12:00 - 2:45

Death, and how humans conceptualize, ritualize, celebrate or deny it, has long been of interest to anthropologists. Indeed, field-working anthropologists scattered around the globe have been confronted with an astonishing variety of practices and conceptualizations of death: air and sky burials; predator burials; double burials; funerary cannibalism; ‘living’ mummies; skull burials; cremations; dancing with corpses; the list goes on. To this list we can add the increasingly novel (exotic? irrational? strange? ‘other’?) ways death is treated in late capitalism: plastinated bodies; liquified bodies; composted bodies; ‘green’ burials; burial vaults and embalming; creative uses of ‘cremains’—turned into diamonds or impregnated into vinyl records or shotgun shells; the list goes on.  By looking long and hard at an area of human experience often treated (in the West at least) as repellent, polluting, fearful and distasteful it can be hoped that we might emerge with a greater understanding of our own (individual and collective) mortality and that of others.



Jenny Oseen | | (403) 329-2551