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American Ethnologist

At the Margins of Death: Ritual Space and the Politics of Location in an Indo-Himalayan Border Village

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Abstract

I base this article on an event that transpired during a funeral ceremony in the village of Achinathang in Ladakh, India. This incident, which coincided with a period of interreligious conflicts between Muslim and Buddhist communities, led me to question the manner in which margins become sites for the definition and contestation of citizenship and power. Here, I analyze the construction of margins in multiple contexts: in negotiating boundaries between death and rebirth, in coping with and challenging the control exerted by town-based political reform movements over rural space, and finally, in locating the position of the ethnographer in histories and spaces of domination. [death rituals, social space, politics of location, Buddhism, South Asia]

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