Speak softly to the dead

The uses of enchantment in American home funerals

in Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale
Author: Alexa Hagerty1
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Home funerals are a small social movement in which American families care for their dead at home. This article argues that home funerals offer a generative view of the tension between the body as biological and social construction, matter and meaning, object and subject. In home funerals, the dead body is enacted as possessing a fading spark of agency and subjectivity, animating the dead against the grain of medical and scientific conceptions of the corpse as inert object. Home funerals provocatively engage questions about the forms of care and communication available between the living and the dead.


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