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Anthony Di Fiore, Chair SAC 4.102, Mailcode C3200 78712 • 512-471-4206

Spring 2009

ANT 324L • Death, Ritual, & Medicine in East Asia-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
29860 TTh
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
BEn 1.126

Course Description

In this course, we will use an anthropological and ethnographic approach to explore ideas related to death and the dying process in contemporary East Asian societies. Topics such as functional decline in old age, death hastening practices, ancestor veneration, abortion, ritual suicide, and endocannibalism (eating of one's dead relatives) will be examined with the goal of developing a comparative understanding of different ideas about the meanings and forms of dying, death, life, and afterlife and how these ideas are symbolically represented through ritual. Although death celebrations and ideas about the afterlife vary greatly across cultures, common themes such as notions of good and bad deaths, taboos surrounding the corpse, and death as a rite of passage or transition are evident more generally and will be explored in detail.

Grading Policy

Mid-term exam: 20% Final exam: 30% Five 2-page response papers: 50%


Suzuki, Hikaru, The Price of Death: The Funeral Industry in Contemporary Japan. Kiong, Tong Chee, Chinese Death Rituals in Singapore. Hardacre, Helen, Marketing the Menacing Fetus in Japan. Lock, Margaret, Twice Dead: Organ Transplants and the Reinvention of Death. Watson and Rawski, Death Ritual in Late Imperial and Modern China


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