How to do a burial right: Negotiations of identity, religious practice and the state

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1 Citation (Scopus)


The "correct" performance of death and burial rituals is a highly contested field in Central Asia today. Scripturalist or other reform-minded Muslims, as well as governments, each for their own reasons, often harshly criticise their co-religionists' death-related practices for being unlawful, superstitious and wasteful. For many Central Asians, lamentations, mourning and commemoration ceremonies have an emblematic value. Even if people do not observe all of the traditions over the one year mourning period, or are not familiar with the symbolism and meaning of single rituals, they know that these exist and form an integral part of a mourning system which is regarded as a valued element of one's own "traditional" (i.e., pre-Soviet) culture. Only after all the required ceremonies during the one year mourning cycle have been performed, can the deceased be successfully integrated into the world of spirits and take on their new role as guardian of the descendants. The conceptualisation of the mutual relationship between the living and the dead is informed by the belief that they are symbiotic and that the welfare of both parties is dependent on the other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-567
Number of pages31
JournalArchiv Orientalni
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Commemoration
  • Conspicuous consumption
  • Criticism of death rituals
  • Lamentation
  • Mourning
  • Mutual relations between the living and the dead

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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