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Dialogues with the Dead

Dialogues with the Dead
The Discussion of Mortality among the Sora of Eastern India

Out of Print

Part of Cambridge Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology

  • Date Published: August 1993
  • availability: Unavailable - out of print August 2006
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521384476

Out of Print

Unavailable - out of print August 2006
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About the Authors
  • Piers Vitebsky's study of religion, healing and psychology in tribal India focuses on a unique dialogue between the living and the dead, conducted through a shaman. By exploring memories of emotional attachments, the Sora people negotiate the meaning of particular deaths. Vitebsky analyzes these relationships over a period of years, and develops a typology of moods of the dead. He contrasts Sora procedures with the treatment of bereavement in psychoanalysis, and shows how Sora dialogues with the dead serve to negotiate relationships with other members of the community.

    • An original study of shamanism and spirit possession in a tribal Indian community, where people conduct dialogues with the dead through a shaman
    • Covers recent anthropological trends, including the anthropology of psychotherapy
    • Will appeal to non-anthropologists, those general readers who are interested in a psychoanalytic approach to bereavement
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "This extraordinarily sensitive ethnography analyzes in rich and personal detail the social relations between the living and the dead among the Lanjia-Sora....Dialogues with the Dead is one of the most original South Asian ethnographies to appear in recent years; and as an ethnography of death and psychology in a tribal society, it is absolutely unique." Chicago South Asia Newsletter

    "Dialogues with the Dead is an important ethnography of the Sora, a tribal people living on the borders of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh....The study will be of interest to anthropologists, historians of religions, and South Asianists, but it deserves a broader audience, because of the comparative issues it raises....This is a fascinating study of the narrative (or, better, the dialogical) construction of reality, but here the dead have a real voice, and that makes a world of difference." Gary L. Ebersole, Journal of Religion

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 1993
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521384476
    • length: 314 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 157 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.606kg
    • contains: 12 b/w illus.
    • availability: Unavailable - out of print August 2006
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Sonum: The Continuation of Consciousness After Death:
    1. Dialogues between the living and the dead
    2.The Sora people
    3. The formation of the Sora person
    4. Interpreting and persuading the dead
    Part II. Responding to a New Death:
    5. Transcription of a dialogue: the inquest on JAMANO
    6. Redeeming the dead and protecting the living
    Part III. Operating the Calculus of All Previous Deaths:
    7. Transcription of a dialogue with nineteen dead persons
    8. States of mind among the dead and the living
    9. Forgetting the dead
    10. Dialogues with the self: Sora bereavement and the presuppositions of contemporary psychotherapy.

  • Author

    Piers Vitebsky, Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge

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