Taming Time, Timing Death: Social Technologies and Ritual, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Taming Time, Timing Death

Social Technologies and Ritual, 1st Edition

Edited by Rane Willerslev, Dorthe Refslund Christensen


286 pages

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Paperback: 9781138253520
pub: 2016-09-09
Hardback: 9781409450689
pub: 2013-05-23
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315611846
pub: 2016-04-01
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Departing from a persisting current in Western thought, which conceives of time in the abstract, and often reflects upon death as occupying a space at life's margins, this book begins from position that it is in fact through the material and perishable world that we experience time. As such, it is with death and our encounters with it, that form the basis of human conceptions of time. Presenting rich, interdisciplinary empirical studies of death rituals and practices across the globe, from the US and Europe, Asia, The Middle East, Australasia and Africa, Taming Time, Timing Death explores the manner in which social technologies and rituals have been and are implemented to avoid, delay or embrace death, or communicate with the dead, thus informing and manifesting humans' understanding of time. It will therefore be of interest to scholars and students of anthropology, philosophy, sociology and social theory, human geography and religion.


"This stimulating volume materialises the promising future of a book series exclusively dedicated to the study of Death, Materiality and Time that readers will enjoy to follow."— Cristian Simonetti, Mortality: Promoting the interdisciplinary study of death and dying

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction: taming time, taming death, Rane Willerslev, Dorthe Refslund Christensen and Lotte Meinert; Part I Conceptualizations of Death, Materiality and Time: ’Seaweed and limpets will grow on our grave stones’: on islands, time, death and inhuman materialities, Stuart McLean; Death, witchcraft and the temporal aspects of divination, Knut Rio; Time, late modernity and the demise of forever: from eternal salvation to completed bucket lists, Michael C. Kearl and Michael Hviid Jacobsen. Part II Death’s Time: Mourning and Remembrance: Rebirth and the death drive: rethinking Freud’s ’mourning and melancholia’ through a Siberian time perspective, Rane Willerslev; Sharing death: conceptions of time at a Danish online memorial site, Dorthe Refslund Christensen and Kjetil Sandvik; Stones, shamans and pastors: pagan and Baptist temporalities of death in tribal India, Piers Vitebsky. Part III Living with the Dead: Ancestors, Landscape and Agency: Dealing with dead saints, Mikkel Bille; Pilgrimage landscape as material anchor of time, Jesper Østergaard; Creating the new times: reburials after war in Northern Uganda, Lotte Meinert and Susan Reynolds-Whyte; Memory and succession in the City of the Dead: temporality in the Ancient Egyptian mortuary cult, Rune Nyord. Part IV Self-death: Corporeality and Willed Death: Death and meateriality, Kristian Bjørkdahl and Karen Lykke Syse; Defacing: becoming by killing, Henrik Hvenegaard Mikkelsen; Dying on time: cultures of death and time in Muslim Northern Nigeria, Murray Last; Index.

About the Editors

Dorthe Refslund Christensen is Associate Professor of Cultural Studies at Aarhus University, Denmark. Rane Willerslev is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Museum of Cultural History at the University of Oslo, Norway. He is author of Soul Hunters: Hunting, Animism and Personhood among the Siberian Yukaghirs and On the Run in Siberia.

About the Series

Studies in Death, Materiality and the Origin of Time

Studies in Death, Materiality and the Origin of Time

Eventually we all die - and we experience death head-on, when someone close to us dies. This series, Studies in Death, Materiality and the Origin of Time, identifies this fact as constitutive of the origin of human conceptions of time. Time permeates everything, but except for time itself all things are perishable - yet, it is only through the perishable world of things and bodies that we sense time. Bringing together scholarly work across a range of disciplines, the series explores the fact that human experiences and conceptions of time inherently hinge on the material world, and that time as a socially experienced phenomenon cannot be understood as separate from material form or expression. As such, it departs from a persistent current within Western thinking. Philosophy, biology and physics, among other disciplines, have studied time as an essential, ethereal and abstract concept. In the same way, death has often been conceived of in abstract and sometimes transcendental terms as occupying one extreme margin of human life. As an alternative, this series examines the ways in which bodily death and material decay are central points of reference in social life, which offer key insights into human perceptions of time.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General