Grave doubts : an anatomy of funeral rituals in a New Zealand context
It is widely recognised that the rituals of a society represent the common and generally held beliefs and values of its members, and will especially reflect elements of stress and change. The period of change which modern Western Society has recently undergone, has necessarily resulted in a transformation of belief systems, but often at a slower rate than material change, causing conflict. The object of this thesis was to highlight the belief systems concerning death in New Zealand, by analysing ritualised funeral behaviour, and therefore illustrating what the underlying values are, and what social processes they reflect. The information for this research was obtained by fieldwork - through interviews, and observation - and literature reviews. A performative or dramatic framework was used to discuss elements of ritual time and place, objects and actions, language, and identity, and thereby highlight the behavioural mechanisms by which ritual meanings and symbols are transmitted. The conclusions drawn illustrate an intrinsic denial of death in modern Western and New Zealand society, which was reflected in all elements of funeral practices. These methods of denial, by representing life after death or life in death, also reflect factors of illusion, the ritual use of symbolism, and control by which society conceptualises death and manipulates reality. The analysis of funeral rituals in general, illustrated the ambiguity inherent in the conscious presentation of material illusions by the funeral industry, to cater for the emotional illusions demanded by society and the individual mourner.
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Anthropology
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis
viii, 81 leaves :col. ill., map ; 30 cm. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 73-81) University of Otago department: Anthropology. "April 1995."