Three Days for Weeping: Dreams, Emotions, and Death in the Peruvian Amazon

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Abstract

Funeral customs and beliefs about the dead among the Matsigenka of Peru reflect great anxiety over the contagion of death and the power of the dead over the living. In this article, these beliefs and practices are interpreted in light of a native theory about emotion. For the Matsigenka, excessive displays of emotion, especially grief, anger, and aggressive sexuality, cause a vicious cycle of unhappiness, social disruption, illness, and death. Moving beyond a culturally particular, symbolic–interpretive perspective, the author also draws on personal experiences both in the field and at home to reflect on the phenomenology of grief across cultures. Amazonia, emotions, funerary practices, ethnomedicine, sensory anthropology, materia medica]

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