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date: 19 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Bodily remains, dry bones: what do they tell us about how people treated their dead and, what is more important, about the social and historic significance these practices had? This chapter is about actual burial practices, i.e. what people did to the bodies of the deceased, how they were modified and transformed, displayed and concealed, preserved and dismembered. It is about how these transformations were controlled, and about ways to interpret these practices. Transformative acts are understood as communicative practices; they are communicating in the symbolical realm, with ‘higher powers’ for example, and in the social realm, aiming at presenting and transforming social relations and social identities. A case study concerned with cremations highlights these issues. This chapter thus suggests focusing in more detail on the actual bodies and the processes they went through for a better understanding of death and burial.

Keywords: body, practice, transformation, communication, control, cremation

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