‘Evil deaths’ and the difficulty of mourning in Brazil in
the time of COVID-19
Based on the anthropological classification of death into ‘good
deaths’, ‘beautiful deaths’ and ‘evil
deaths’, and using the methodology of screen ethnography, this article
focuses on mourning in Brazil during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the
extreme cases of deaths in Manaus and among the Yanomami people. The article
‘follows the virus’, from its first role in a death in the
country, that of a domestic worker, to hurriedly dug mass graveyards. I consider
how the treatment of bodies in the epidemiological context sheds light on the
meanings of separation by death when mourning rituals are not performed
according to prevailing cultural imperatives. Parallels are drawn with other
moments of sudden deaths and the absence of bodies, as during the South American
dictatorships, when many victims were declared ‘missing’. To
conclude, the article focuses on new funerary rituals, such as Zoom funerals and
online support groups, created to overcome the impossibility of mourning as had
been practised in the pre-pandemic world.
This article describes the operational practices of the city morgue in Santiago, Chile
and their effects on the family members who come to claim the bodies of their loved ones.
It explores the impact of the body‘s passage through the morgue on the observance of
rituals surrounding death and mourning. An underlying conflict can be identified between
the states partial appropriation of and interference with the body and intrinsic needs
associated with the performance of funeral rites in accordance with cultural and religious
In October 2011, twenty skulls of the Herero and Nama people were repatriated
from Germany to Namibia. So far, fifty-five skulls and two human skeletons have
been repatriated to Namibia and preparations for the return of more skulls from
Germany were at an advanced stage at the time of writing this article.
Nonetheless, the skulls and skeletons that were returned from Germany in the
past have been disappointingly laden with complexities and politics, to such an
extent that they have not yet been handed over to their respective communities
for mourning and burials. In this context, this article seeks to investigate the
practice of ‘anonymising’ the presence of human remains in society
by exploring the art and politics of the Namibian state’s memory
production and sanctioning in enforcing restrictions on the affected communities
not to perform, as they wish, their cultural and ritual practices for the
remains of their ancestors.
This article considers the contexts and processes of forensic identification in 2004
post-tsunami Thailand as examples of identity politics. The presence of international
forensic teams as carriers of diverse technical expertise overlapped with
bureaucratic procedures put in place by the Thai government. The negotiation of
unified forensic protocols and the production of estimates of identified nationals
straddle biopolitics and thanatocracy. The immense identification task testified on
the one hand to an effort to bring individual bodies back to mourning families and
national soils, and on the other hand to determining collective ethnic and national
bodies, making sense out of an inexorable and disordered dissolution of corporeal as
well as political boundaries. Individual and national identities were the subject of
competing efforts to bring order to,the chaos, reaffirming the cogency of the body
politic by mapping national boundaries abroad. The overwhelming forensic effort
required by the exceptional circumstances also brought forward the socio-economic and
ethnic disparities of the victims, whose post-mortem treatment and identification
traced an indelible divide between us and them.
This article considers James Baldwin’s last published novel, Just Above My Head (1979),
as the culmination of his exploration of kinship, reflecting on the ways distance and loss
characterize African-American familial relations. By analyzing Baldwin’s representation of
Hall Montana’s relationship to, and mourning of, his younger brother Arthur, this article
argues that JAMH revises the terms of the black family to imagine an alternative, errant
kinship that is adoptive, migratory, and sustained through songs of joy and grief. My
approach to the novel’s portrayal of kinship is indebted to Édouard Glissant’s Poetics of
Relation (1990), in which he defines “errantry” as a fundamental characteristic of
diaspora that resists the claustrophobic, filial violence and territorial dispossession
that are slavery’s legacies. Baldwin represents errant kinship in JAMH through his
inclusion of music and formal experimentation. Departing from previous scholarship
that reads JAMH as emblematic of the author’s artistic decline, I interpret the
novel’s numerous syntactic and figurative experiments as offering new formal insight into
his portrait of brotherly love. Baldwin’s integration of two distinctive leitmotifs, blood
and song, is therefore read as a formal gesture toward a more capacious and migratory
The handling of the deceased during the COVID-19 pandemic, a case study in France and Switzerland
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an unprecedented global crisis. To limit the spread of the virus and the associated excess mortality, states and governing bodies have produced a series of regulations and recommendations from a health perspective. The funerary aspects of these directives have reconfigured not only the ways in which the process of dying can be accompanied, but also the management of dead bodies, impacting on the dying, their relatives and professionals in the sector. Since March 2020, the entire process of separation and farewell has been affected, giving rise to public debates about funeral restrictions and the implications for mourning. We carried out a study in France and Switzerland to measure the effects of this crisis, and in particular to explore whether it has involved a shift from a funerary approach to a strictly mortuary one. Have the practices that would normally be observed in non-pandemic times been irrevocably altered? Does this extend to all deaths? Has there been a switch to an exclusively technical handling? Are burial practices still respected? The results of the present study pertain to the ‘first wave’ of spring 2020 and focus on the practices of professionals working in the funeral sector.
Eurocentrism has taught us to see the potential end of an era in every relative change in
Western power. Thinking about the role of humanitarianism today requires that we don’t
reproduce or unwittingly celebrate Western-led order by mourning the end of a history that never
actually existed. Given past and present non-Western experiences of liberal order, we might ask:
what’s there to mourn?
My personal experiences of research and knowledge production regarding humanitarianism have
reinforced in me an anti-colonial ethos – an intellectual
The 1990s witnessed an explosion in women's writing in France, with a particularly exciting new generation of writer's coming to the fore, such as Christine Angot, Marie Darrieussecq and Regine Detambel. This book introduces an analysis of new women's writing in contemporary France, including both new writers of the 1990s and their more established counter-parts. The 1990s was an exciting period for women's writing in France. The novels of Louise Lambrichs are brilliant but troubling psychological dramas focusing on the traumas that inhabit the family romance: incest, sterility, the death those we love and the terrible legacy of mourning. The body of writing produced by Marie Redonnet between 1985 and 2000 is an unusually coherent one. The book explores the possibility of writing 'de la mélancolie' through focusing on the work of Chantal Chawaf, whose writing may be described as 'melancholic autofiction', melancholic autobiographical fiction. It places Confidence pour confidence within Constant's oeuvre as a whole, and argues for a more positive reading of the novel, a reading that throws light on the trajectory of mother-daughter relations in her fiction. Christiane Baroche was acclaimed in France first as a short-story writer. Unable to experience the freedom of their brothers and fathers, beur female protagonists are shown to experience it vicariously through the reading, and the writing of, narratives. Clotilde Escalle's private worlds of sex and violence, whose transgressions are part of real lives, shock precisely because they are brought into the public sphere, expressed in and through writing.
to their daughters as vampires and explores a
speciﬁcally feminine melancholia. Yet the ﬁgure of the female vampire also
oﬀers a suggestive means of reading Chawaf ’s writing as autobiographical
ﬁction. A recurring ﬁgure of a bleeding female vampire in Vers la lumière
shows up the ways in which melancholia stains and contaminates autobiographical writing, reconﬁguring the relation between text and writing
subject and even, perhaps, allowing unspeakable loss to be spoken.
Melancholia and vampirism: Freud and Kristeva
In his essay, ‘Mourning and melancholia
Likewise, according to her editors, a Geatish meowle sings at Beowulf's funeral (3150b).
What can be read of the manuscript here includes ‘giomorgyd’ (song of mourning) (3150a) and ‘sorgcearig’ (sorrowful) (3152a). Indeed, these women are sad, but they are also surrounded by sad men.
Meanwhile, we have averted our tearless eyes from the mourning men who populate the poem. We may question how the Anglo-Saxons read this history of their continental ancestors, or why Christian scribes recorded it, but