12. The Work of Memory: Ritual Laments of the Dead and Korea's Cheju Massacre

  1. Janice Boddy and
  2. Michael Lambek
  1. Seong-nae Kim

Published Online: 17 JAN 2014

DOI: 10.1002/9781118605936.ch12

A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion

A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion

How to Cite

Kim, S.-n. (2013) The Work of Memory: Ritual Laments of the Dead and Korea's Cheju Massacre, in A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion (eds J. Boddy and M. Lambek), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118605936.ch12

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 17 JAN 2014
  2. Published Print: 21 OCT 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470673324

Online ISBN: 9781118605936

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Keywords:

  • memory;
  • ritual laments of the dead;
  • Korea;
  • Cheju Massacre;
  • memory as moral practice;
  • national memory;
  • moral politics of nationhood;
  • Cheju April Third Incident;
  • Korean War;
  • shamanic rituals

Summary

The Cheju (Island) Massacre of 1948 prefigured the Korean War in 1950 and the ideological battle of the Cold War. After the Korean nation's division, anticommunism in South Korea effectively silenced the popular memory of the violent event for over half century, with the exception of the dead speaking through shamans. In a shamanic ritual genre called younggye ullim, or “laments of the dead” and new kinship practices such as posthumous adoption, spirits and ancestors intervene in the work of memory in the moral politics of nationhood. Adopting Lambek's idea of memory as a moral practice, this chapter explores the way in which the imagery of violent deaths and their vernacular memories are culturally mediated in ritual practices of shamanic spirit possession and ancestral worship, and how they make a strong case for contestations in the work of national memory.