Ultimate Ambiguities: Investigating Death and Liminality

9781782386094: Ultimate Ambiguities: Investigating Death and Liminality

Periods of transition are often symbolically associated with death, making the latter the paradigm of liminality. Yet, many volumes on death in the social sciences and humanities do not specifically address liminality. This book investigates these "ultimate ambiguities," assuming they can pose a threat to social relationships because of the disintegrating forces of death, but they are also crucial periods of creativity, change, and emergent aspects of social and religious life. Contributors explore death and liminality from an interdisciplinary perspective and present a global range of historical and contemporary case studies outlining emotional, cognitive, artistic, social, and political implications.

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About the Author:

Peter Berger is Associate Professor of Indian Religions and the Anthropology of Religion at the University of Groningen. His books include Feeding, Sharing and Devouring: Ritual and Society in Highland Odisha (de Gruyter, 2014) and The Modern Anthropology of India (co-ed with Frank Heidemann, Routledge, 2013).


"With studies ranging from the Sora of India to death rituals in Ancient Greece, this selection offers a comparative approach that reinforces previous theories while also challenging liminality as some unidentifiable location... Berger and Kroesen's compilation is a most valuable addition to studies on liminality and death as it introduces key theoretical concepts through varied and intriguing case studies." · Religious Studies Review

"This is a hugely interesting book that will be a very valuable contribution to the study of death in social science and the humanities." · Arnar Árnason, University of Aberdeen

"This is an important volume dealing... with the always-complex ritualization of death in comparative perspective, critically reassessing the work of some of the classic authors in the social sciences and more particularly in anthropological debates, and offering new theoretical and empirical angles to better understand the ambiguities inherent to death, burial, and afterlife beliefs." · Francisco Ferrándiz, Spanish National Research Council

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