SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Grief and Mourning in Ghana: A Tentative Mystery - CANCELLED

Dr John Parker

Date: 22 May 2019Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 22 May 2019Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: S209

Type of Event: Seminar


This paper forms part of a forthcoming book titled In My Time of Dying: A History of Death and the Dead in West Africa. The book explores the history of death over a four-hundred year period between the seventeenth and the twentieth centuries in the region of present-day Ghana, and the paper focuses on one aspect of that history: grief and mourning. Comparative sociological and anthropological study of bereavement has demonstrated that grief, far from being a 'natural' human emotion, can be seen in part to be socially constructed. Perhaps the most obvious manifestation of such construction is the marked difference in many cultures - including the Akan and neighbouring peoples in Ghana - in the gendered performance of grief and mortuary rites. But can grief, including its gendered dimensions, also be seen to have a history - to have been fashioned and refashioned over time by broader forces of historical change? The paper seeks to address this question by considering a sequence of episodes in which the precolonial African state and the British colonial state both impacted upon the performance - and perhaps the raw emotion - of grief.

All Welcome - free of charge

Organiser: Prof Catherine Hezser

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