Society for the Anthropology of Religion
Oral Presentation Session
Abstract: Taking as a provocation Erik Mueggler’s (2017, p.192) assertion that “there is no politics that is not also a politics for the dead,” and Charles Briggs’ (2014, p.335) call for “anthropology as the work of mourning,” we consider the politics afforded by death and the political efficacies of mourning. Moving beyond an anthropology of death focused primarily on the soteriologies and eschatologies evident in deathways and mortuary rituals, we consider themes such as the ethical and political responses to, and implications of, “bad deaths” and the affective and historical dimensions of mourning and grief. We are particularly interested in extending our understanding of the relationalities mobilized by death, not just the socialities envisioned as bridging the living and the dead, but the temporalities of death and its emotional aftermath and the materialities of violence, trauma, bodies, and environmental change. We are concerned not only with individual human deaths, but with collective forms of “social death” and with the morally-charged passing (or threatened disappearance) of other things—whether living things such as animals, trees, and ecosystems or social entities such as particular social identities, political movements, or moral orders. Our focus, then, is on mourning, protest, and related responses that ensure a vibrant politics for the dead and which make death the central moral concern for the living.