Passages and Afterworlds

Anthropological Perspectives on Death in the Caribbean

Passages and Afterworlds

Religious Cultures of African and African Diaspora People

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Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: 22 illustrations Published: December 2018

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Caribbean Studies, Religious Studies

The contributors to Passages and Afterworlds explore death and its rituals across the Caribbean, drawing on ethnographic theories shaped by a deep understanding of the region's long history of violent encounters, exploitation, and cultural diversity. Examining the relationship between living bodies and the spirits of the dead, the contributors investigate the changes in cosmologies and rituals in the cultural sphere of death in relation to political developments, state violence, legislation, policing, and identity politics. Contributors address topics that range from the ever-evolving role of divinized spirits in Haiti and the contemporary mortuary practice of Indo-Trinidadians to funerary ceremonies in rural Jamaica and ancestor cults in Maroon culture in Suriname. Questions of alterity, difference, and hierarchy underlie these discussions of how racial, cultural, and class differences have been deployed in ritual practice and how such rituals have been governed in the colonial and postcolonial Caribbean.

Contributors. Donald Cosentino, Maarit Forde, Yanique Hume, Paul Christopher Johnson, Aisha Khan, Keith E. McNeal, George Mentore, Richard Price, Karen Richman, Ineke (Wilhelmina) van Wetering, Bonno (H.U.E.) Thoden van Velzen


"Passages and Afterworlds embraces a range of religious traditions that includes Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, and a variety of Afro-Caribbean syncretic faiths. . . . Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty." — R. Berleant-Schiller, Choice

"In Passages and Afterworlds, editors Yanique Hume and Maarit Forde have assembled a compelling set of essays on Caribbean deathways—mortuary ritual, memorialization, and the colonial and postcolonial management of beings alive and dead in the Greater Caribbean world. Across diverse contexts, the chapters do an excellent job of examining the ways in which communities use separations between those dead and alive to come closer together, making new life from death (including living well with the dead)." — Alexander Rocklin, Reading Religion

Passages and Afterworlds is a timely and important contribution, written in accessible language and with vivid ethnographic detail. It juxtaposes case studies from around the region, allowing for an appreciation of both the variabilities and the commonalities of the relations between the living and the dead in local Caribbean social formations.” — Stephan Palmié, author of Wizards and Scientists: Explorations in Afro-Cuban Modernity and Tradition

“This remarkable collection of essays bridges worlds—those made by language, religion, race, and geography, to be sure, but also the domains made by humankind’s journey through time. The authors attend carefully to relations between the living and dead, noting the ruptures, continuities, losses, and regenerations that have animated a wide range of deathways around the Caribbean basin. Heard in chorus, the compendium intones a revelatory commemoration of our common voyage toward untold final destinations.” — Vincent Brown, author of The Reaper's Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Maarit Forde is the Head of the Department of Literary, Cultural, and Communication Studies at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, and coeditor of Obeah and Other Powers: The Politics of Caribbean Religion and Healing, also published by Duke University Press.

Yanique Hume is Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, Barbados, and coeditor of Caribbean Popular Culture: Power, Politics, and Performance.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction / Maarit Forde  1
I. Relations
1. "The Dead Don't Come Back Like the Migrant Comes Back": Many Returns in the Garifuna Dügü / Paul Christopher Johnson  31
2. Of Vital Spirit and Precarious Bodies in Amerindian Socialities / George Mentore  54
3. The Making of Ancestors in a Surinamese Maroon Society / Ineke (Wilhelmina) van Wetering and Bonno (H. U. E.) Thoden van Velzen  80
4. Death and the Construction of Social Space: Land, Kinship, and Identity in the Jamaican Mortuary Cycle / Yanique Hume  109
5. Mortuary Rights and Social Dramas in Léogâne, Haiti / Karen Richman  139
II. Transformations
6. From Zonbi to Samdi: Late Transformations in Haitian Eschatology / Donald Cosentino  159
7. Governing Death in Trinidad and Tobago / Maarit Forde  176
8. Death and the Problem of Orthopraxy in Caribbean Hinduism: Reconsidering the Politics and Poetics of Indo-Trinidadian Mortuary Ritual / Keith E. McNeal  199
9. Chasing Death's Left Hand: Personal Encounters with Death and Its Rituals in the Caribbean / Richard Price  225
Afterword. Life and Postlife in Caribbean Religious Traditions / Aisha Khan  243
References  261
Contributors  283
Index  287
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0014-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0031-0
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