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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 and psychology in tribal India focuses upon a unique form of dialogue between the living and the dead which is conducted through the medium of a shaman in trance. The dead sometimes nurture their living descendants, yet at the same time they inflict upon them the very illnesses from which they themselves have died. Through intimate dialogue, the Sora use the occasion of death to explore their closest emotional attachments in all their ambivalence. Dr Vitebsky analyses the actors' words and relationships over several years and develops a typology of moods among the dead and kinds of memory among the living. In comparing Sora shamanism with the treatment of bereavement in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, he highlights a contrast in their assumptions which has far-reaching consequences for the social and professional scope of the two kinds of practice.

    • 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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    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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