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American Ethnologist

Mourning becomes eclectic: Death of communal practice in a Greek cemetery

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Abstract

Using a case of disagreement over disinterment in one Greek cemetery, I consider how the intersection of public and personal processes gives form and meanings to death practices and, thus, contributes to understandings of identity, community, and death itself. The dominant factor in shaping mourning has been tension between two potential uses of its powerful symbolism to represent identity and relationships: enactment of community or of family. I argue that by giving too much explanatory power to death and belief systems built on the existential fact of death, scholars miss the mutability of death as people experience it and the ways that experience is constructed through everyday contests over secular interests.

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