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January 30, 2013

Winter 2013 CCS Noon Lecture Series - Erik Mueggler

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Erik Mueggler
Professor of Anthropology
University of Michigan

'Cats give Funerals to Rats’: Making the Dead Modern through Lament

February 12, 2013
Tuesday 12 noon to 1:00 pm
Room 1636 School of Social Work Building
1080 South University

This talk compares funeral laments in an Yi community in Yunnan from two periods: the early 1990s, after ritual revitalization had gotten thoroughly underway, and 2011, after this community had come into more intimate contact with the modernity-obsessed cultures of urban and semi-urban China. Laments fashion grief in a public setting by conceptualizing the dead and their relations with the living in vivid poetic language. Laments from the early 1990s described these relations as a circuit of suffering, in which children returned a debt of suffering they owed their parents after the latter's deaths. By 2011, innovative lamenters had reoriented their understanding of suffering to be personal, internal, and intimate. The dead became more “modern,” allowing the living, defined largely by their relations with the dead, to participate in “modernized” forms of authentic, sincere emotional expression.

Erik Mueggler is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. His books include: The Age of Wild Ghosts: Memory, Violence, Place in Southwest China (University of California Press, 2001) and The Paper Road: Archive and Experience in the Botanical Exporation of West China and Tibet (University of California Press, 2011).

Posted by zzhu at January 30, 2013 02:39 PM