Two deaths and a funeral: ritual inscriptions' affordances for mourning and moral personhood in Vietnam
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Citation (published version)Merav Shohet. 2018. "Two deaths and a funeral: Ritual inscriptions' affordances for mourning and moral personhood in Vietnam." AMERICAN ETHNOLOGIST, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp. 60 - 73 (14). https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.12599
Mortuary rituals constitute the social nature of death and mourning, often working to ease painful transitions for the deceased and bereaved. In Vietnam, such rituals involve objects, including commodified yet personalized text‐artifacts like banners and placards bearing inscriptions in various scripts that are associated with various affects and different political‐economic regimes. The material, orthographic, semantic, spatial, and temporal organization of these text‐artifacts mobilize sentiments and structure ethical relations at a funeral. Together, they act as prescriptive affordances intended to discipline mourners’ grief. Yet while these objects reflect how subjects valorize “tradition,” their affective force exceeds the bounded subjunctive world fostered by ritual, and it may retrospectively limit possibilities for moral personhood.