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Culture and Death.docx

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Tracy Prowse

Culture and Death 11/8/2012 10:12:00 AM Culture and Death  186-194  Attitudes towards death are culturally constructed  Influenced by beliefs about life, death and the hereafter  What happens to us after death?  End of existence? Transition to another realm? Reincarnation?  Meanings given to death  Death is an enfeebled form of life  Death is a continuation of life  Death is perpetual development  Death is waiting  Death is cycling and recycling  Death is nothing   How do we define death?  Traditional medical view- lack of respiration, pulse, and heartbeat  If there is no pulse then the heart is no longer functioning  Failure to respond to stimuli  Lowered body temperature and stiffness   Taphophobia  A rope placed in the hands of the coffin occupant could be pulled to ring the bell above ground  Unnatural fear of being buried alive   The Harvard Criteria for Death  Came up with a criteria for doctors to make sure the patient was dead  1, unreceptive and unresponsive  2, no spontaneous movement or respiration  3, no reflexes: light in the eyes (stimuli)  4, a flat EEG (electrical activity in the brain)  5, no circulation to or within the brain  criteria because not knowing if someone is dead causes some issues with organ donors  comem transient vegetative state, locked-in syndrome, permanent vegetative stat, persistent vegetative state  Modern Medicalization of Death  Death is to be avoided  In the past, the doctors presence at the deathbed was rare  Family/religious figure typically present  Eventualy became figure typically present  Eventually became a “status symbol” to die under medical care  Death may be prevented (or at least delayed) by medicine  Life expectancies have changed, average day is now 70-80‟s before it was 50s-60s  Rituals surrounding death  In many cultures death is „unclean‟  Rituals to transition the deceased from the world of the living to the world of the dead (eg. „wake‟, burial, cremation)  Period of mourning  Rituals to reintegrate survivors back into the community (eg, cleansing)  Usually decreased are separated from the living  Most modern societies we see that the deceased are placed in special locations, (ground, side of cliffs, toraja burial caves, Indonesia, crypt of the capuchin monks, rome, representation of the deceased)  Ongoing relationships with the dead  Mexico day of the dead  Once someone is buried, that is not the end of the relationship with the person (bring offerings the dead) Turning of the Bones (Madagascar) south east coast of Africa  When a family member dies, he or she is put into a tomb, they unwrap the body and rewrap them and have a party and celebrate the family member as interval parts of society  Making an ongoing relationship with the dead   Culture and death (textbook)  Infanticide  Suicide and death by violence   Infanticide: the deliberate killing of an offspring (active/direct: intentional killing, indirect/passive: when the basic needs of life aren‟t able to be provided enough for the child to survive, letting the child die)   Reasons for infanticide  Infant is ill or „deformed‟: considered them being angel babies thinking they‟d be happier in heaven then alive deformed  Sex of the infant (females are killed)  Infant is the result of adultery  Birth of twins (females are killed if one twin is a boy)  Too many children  Poverty   World Sex Ratio  <1- fewer males than females  >1- more males then females  higher male ratios, (cultural areas)   Case Study- India  Northern india- ratio of males to females is higher (ie more males)  There is a difference of males to female ratios  Northern india males to females ratio is higher  Economic modes of destruction  Northern india:  Wheat cultivation: heavy labor is done by males (division of labor/agriculture activity)  Marriage requires a dowry (brides fam gives the males fam money during marriage, putting economic pressure for the family with the girl)  Birth of daughters is a financial drain Southern india  Wet rice
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