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Anthropology of the Memorial: Auto/Ethnographic Notes on Cultural Rituals Associated with Death

Michael Hemmingson

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

April 15, 2008

This essay is both performance-based and auto/ethnography, and is a meditation on contemporary rituals in the United States associated with death and funerals, in this case, the memorial. There are social expectations at memorials, rituals of talking good about the deceased, rituals of grief, rituals of crying. Friends and family come together, old rivalries or anger are set aside for this social gathering. Strangers connect by their mutual connection to the dead. Anthropologists have always studied, with fascination, death rituals of remote tribes - if a member of these remote tribes observed Western death rituals, they would probably find it just as exotic as we find theirs. Every culture and society has its own set of rituals and rules when it comes to honoring and admiring the dead. In this essay, I reveal my own inner ritual, a personal memory, of a friend and former lover who passed.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 20

Keywords: memorial, death rituals, performance text, auto/ethnography, social scripts

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Date posted: January 18, 2008 ; Last revised: May 12, 2008

Suggested Citation

Hemmingson, Michael, Anthropology of the Memorial: Auto/Ethnographic Notes on Cultural Rituals Associated with Death (April 15, 2008). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1085065 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1085065

Contact Information

Michael Hemmingson (Contact Author)
University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )
9500 Gilman Drive
PMB 241
La Jolla, CA 92093-5010
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.mhemmingson.wordpress.com
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