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The Spirit of Mourning
History, Memory and the Body


  • Date Published: September 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107648838

£ 18.99

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About the Authors
  • How is the memory of traumatic events, such as genocide and torture, inscribed within human bodies? In this book, Paul Connerton discusses social and cultural memory by looking at the role of mourning in the production of histories and the reticence of silence across many different cultures. In particular he looks at how memory is conveyed in gesture, bodily posture, speech and the senses – and how bodily memory, in turn, becomes manifested in cultural objects such as tattoos, letters, buildings and public spaces. It is argued that memory is more cultural and collective than it is individual. This book will appeal to researchers and students in anthropology, linguistic anthropology, sociology, social psychology and philosophy.

    • Contains an exceptionally wide range of references to marginalised traditions in the West as well as to widely disparate specialist culture-areas outside the West
    • Carries forward the breakthroughs accomplished by Merleau-Ponty and Foucault by showing that the priority of the body occurs as memory
    • Written by an established Cambridge author who has written two other books on the theme of cultural memory
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The many admirers of Paul Connerton's work will be delighted with this new volume. From tattooing and quilt-making to Dogon architecture, Great Plains sign language, and Quaker meeting practices, from the Oresteia to Kant, and Quintilian to Bachelard, Connerton knows everything. He also knows how to deploy his knowledge in the service of a formidable analytic intelligence. Profound, moving, and inexhaustibly learned, his gently persistent but firmly structured investigation of history and silence, culture and forgetting, is as eloquent as it is original.' Nicholas Boyle, Schröder Professor of German, University of Cambridge, and President, Magdalene College, Cambridge

    'Drawing on a remarkable range of materials from many cultures and eras, Paul Connerton excavates with deft precision the bodily basis of history, memory, and mourning. Reading this book will change the way you view the trajectory of your life and that of others.' Edward Casey, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, State University of New York, Stony Brook

    ' … in The Spirit of Mourning, [the author] successfully elucidates that 'culture happens as and in the lived body'. This book is definitely worth reading and it is of great use to researchers and students in anthropology.' Polina Tserkassova, Slovene Anthropoligical Society

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107648838
    • length: 190 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 10 mm
    • weight: 0.31kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The birth of histories from the spirit of mourning
    2. Seven types of forgetting
    3. Silences
    4. Spatial orientation
    5. Tradition as conversation and tradition as bodily re-enactment
    6. Tattoos, masks, skin
    7. Emphatic, mimetic and cosmic projection.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Anthropology of the Everyday and the Extraordinary
    • Evolutionary Perspectives on Emotion
    • Loss and Bereavement
    • Seminar: History and Memory
    • Social Organization
    • Studies in Latin American Culture
  • Author

    Paul Connerton, University of Cambridge
    Paul Connerton is a Research Associate in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge and an Honorary Fellow in the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies at the University of London. His recent publications include How Modernity Forgets (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

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