The Spirit of Mourning

The Spirit of Mourning : History, Memory and the Body

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How is the memory of traumatic events, such as genocide and torture, inscribed within human bodies? In this book, Paul Connerton discusses social and cultural memory by looking at the role of mourning in the production of histories and the reticence of silence across many different cultures. In particular he looks at how memory is conveyed in gesture, bodily posture, speech and the senses - and how bodily memory, in turn, becomes manifested in cultural objects such as tattoos, letters, buildings and public spaces. It is argued that memory is more cultural and collective than it is individual. This book will appeal to researchers and students in anthropology, linguistic anthropology, sociology, social psychology and philosophy.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 1139156802
  • 9781139156806

Table of contents

1. The birth of histories from the spirit of mourning; 2. Seven types of forgetting; 3. Silences; 4. Spatial orientation; 5. Tradition as conversation and tradition as bodily re-enactment; 6. Tattoos, masks, skin; 7. Emphatic, mimetic and cosmic projection.
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Review quote

'The many admirers of Paul Connerton's work will be delighted with this new volume. From tattooing and quilt-making to Dogon architecture, Great Plains sign language, and Quaker meeting practices, from the Oresteia to Kant, and Quintilian to Bachelard, Connerton knows everything. He also knows how to deploy his knowledge in the service of a formidable analytic intelligence. Profound, moving, and inexhaustibly learned, his gently persistent but firmly structured investigation of history and silence, culture and forgetting, is as eloquent as it is original.' Nicholas Boyle, Schroeder Professor of German, University of Cambridge, and President, Magdalene College, Cambridge 'Drawing on a remarkable range of materials from many cultures and eras, Paul Connerton excavates with deft precision the bodily basis of history, memory, and mourning. Reading this book will change the way you view the trajectory of your life and that of others.' Edward Casey, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, State University of New York, Stony Brook ' ... in The Spirit of Mourning, [the author] successfully elucidates that 'culture happens as and in the lived body'. This book is definitely worth reading and it is of great use to researchers and students in anthropology.' Polina Tserkassova, Slovene Anthropoligical Society
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