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Chapter 11. Narratives of Identity and History in Modern Cemeteries of Lima, Peru



Cemeteries are an important and multidimensional aspect of mortuary behavior. They are a rich source of information on a society's culture, sociopolitical organization, ethnic identities, economic relationships, and ideology. Cemeteries are dynamic loci, able to convey information to the living and subject to continuing interpretation. The architect of Lima's earliest cemetery attempted to fix its meaning through the plan of the burial ground he designed. Changed historical circumstances due to revolution, however, permitted a physical rewriting of that late Colonial Period script. In the aftermath of subsequent wars, coups, and other revolutions, Lima's cemeteries have continued to be venues of social commentary and social and political action. Today, Lima's elite cemeteries are fully planned cultural landscapes in which some of the traditional patterns of mortuary behavior are superceded. This chapter examines why and how individuals, families, groups, and even the nation-state manipulate and negotiate the space and place of burial for the purposes of asserting identity and controlling historical narrative.

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