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The Last Word

Women, Death, and Divination in Inner Mani

Based on years of fieldwork in both rural and urban Greece, The Last Word explores women’s cultural resistance as they weave together diverse social practices: improvised antiphonic laments, divinatory dreaming, the care and tending of olive trees and the dead, and the inscription of emotions and the senses on a landscape of persons, things, and places. These practices compose the empowering poetics of the cultural periphery. C. Nadia Seremetakis liberates the analysis of gender from reductive binary models and pioneers the alternative perspective of self-reflexive "native anthropology" in European ethnography.

290 pages | 43 halftones, 1 map | 6 x 9 | © 1991

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Music: Ethnomusicology

Women's Studies

Table of Contents

On Laments and Transliteration
1. Contexts
Fragments and Margins
The Politics of Pain
Dutiful Ethnographer
Diachronic Death
2. Social History and Social Organization
Ecology and Topography
Settlement Pattern
The Village
Social Organization
The War Tower
Social Stratification
The Economy and Division of Labor
3. The Warnings
Multiple Entries
The Bird of the Dead
Low Voicing
Dream Codes
The Economy of Dreams
4. The Screaming
Death, Birth, and the Outside
High Voicing
The Silent and Naked Death
The Good Death
5. The Appearance
On the Road
From Segmentary Kinship to Shared Substance
Center and Peripheries
6. The Ethics of Antiphony
Categories of Performance and Pain
Customary Law: The Women’s Jury
Polyphony and the Orders of Discourse
Incorporations or the Double Ceremony
The Counterpoint
The Breath
Sound and Violence
Truth and Pain
Truth, Pain, and Ethnography
Historical Context
7. Weaving Conflict
Men’s Council / Women’s Mourning Ritual
Kalliopi’s Story
Tracking Vangelio
8. Women and Priests, Voice and Text
Mourning Ritual versus Funeral
Historical Context
Procession and Burial
9. The Second Body and the Poetics of Labor
Hertz and the New Body
The Maniat Double Burial
The First Facing or The Meeting of the Eyes
The Second Body and Its Reading
The Otherworld
Death, Exhumation, and Women’s Labor
10. The Visible Invisible: Divination, History, and the Self
The Archaeology of Feeling
Cynics and Others
Cosmological Construction
Dream Time, Labor Time, and Power
Dreaming in the Field
11. Eschatology
Shadows: A Photographic Essay


Society for Humanistic Anthropology: Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing
Honorable Mention

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