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date: 31 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Key to contemporary approaches to mortuary analysis in the Eastern Woodlands is the concept of liturgy as embodied in the mortuary programme. Together they bridge to social life through associated human ritual. Liturgy, ritual, and the mortuary programme become linked through the perspective of human agency. Liturgical acts are manifest in the interment of individuals in specific body postures and different degrees of disarticulation. As agency has become embraced, attention could be properly directed to such topics as the instrumental uses of human remains—ones that had heretofore been interpreted as examples of exalted social status. The concept of liturgy has been applied to the interpretation in cases in which a sequence of treatments clearly had unnecessarily multiplied the number of identities. Social practice can be examined to a degree not strictly possible within the structural perspective of the kind that has dominated analysis for decades.

Keywords: Mortuary programme, burial liturgy, instrumental uses of human remains, secondary burial, collective burial, ancestor cults

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