Evolving humanity, emerging worlds
Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013
Landscapes of life-and-death in India, South Arabia and Asia Minor
Location Alan Turing Building G107
Date and Start Time 09 Aug, 2013 at 14:30
An interregional approach, incorporating interdisciplinary data, is employed to gain a deeper insight on the fundamental characteristics of cultural landscape as a multi-dimensional configuration of cultural space. The panel aims to draw a broader picture of Life-and-Death in its indissoluble unity
An interdisciplinary and interregional approach, incorporating archaeological, historical, ethnographic and literary data, is employed to gain a deeper insight on the fundamental characteristics, namely life and death, of cultural landscape as a multi-dimensional configuration of cultural space. The panel aims to map the spatial features of a given traditional culture and to draw a broader picture of intercultural relations concerned with Life-and-Death in its indissoluble unity. This task is pursued by a team of cultural anthropologists from the Peter-the-Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, St. Petersburg, Russia, within the project "The Space of Cultural Spaces in Asia". At least two books provided ample resource for this research have to be mentioned - Lynne Newton "A Landscape of Pilgrimage and Trade in Wadi Masila, Yemen" (BAR, 2009) and a collective work edited by Lloyd Weeks "Death and Burial in Arabia and Beyond" (BAR, 2010).
In his presentation Yaroslav Vasil'kov treats the commemorative culture of the Bronze Age, at the vast area between Northern Mediterranean, Altai Mountains, Yemen, and Indian peninsula, as a spatially localized phenomenon. Commemorative traditions of the Hadramaut as a Life-and-Death cultural landscape are examined by Mikhail Rodionov. Veronika Ivanova deals with the crossroads in cultural space of Anatolian Turks as symbolical intersection of life and death. Igor Kotin addresses reterritorialized cultural space of Indian diaspora. Ol'ga Merenkova highlights the changing pattern of Life-and-Death among the British Bengali based on a literary source displaying extra-textual roots of a textual strategy. The panel is open to scholars with the regional focus.
Discussant: Mikhail Rodionov
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Anthropomorphic stelae of South Arabia in the Eurasian context
The study of the anthropomorphic stelae from Bronze-age Yemen in the light of certain regularities that have been previously found in the structure of earliest hero memorials from other regions of Eurasia enables us to elucidate the function of the stelae and the semantics of images.
In his previous works, the author has found, using as a key the material of the ancient but still living tradition of Indian 'hero-stones', certain regularities in the images on the anthropomorphic Bronze age stelae found in different regions of Eurasia. These stelae are connected with the cult of heroes, 'masters of the herds', and with the worldview of 'pastoral heroism'. The North-Mediterranean 'statue-menhirs', anthropomorphic stelae in the North Pontic region and in the Altai region much further to the east (the Chemurcheck culture), stelae from south-eastern Turkey (Hakkari), Greek Geometric funerary vases and Archaic stelae, the so-called 'deer stones', then Scythian and even mediaeval Turkic heroic statues in the Eurasian steppe, Indian 'hero-stones' and some other traditions are in fact branches of the one great Bronze Age Eurasian tradition. The hero is commonly represented in a state of posthumous apotheosis. His body, usually naked ('heroic nudity'), is divided by the necklace and the belt into 'thematic' panels: above the belt can be seen weapons or other symbols of the hero's powerful status; the lower panel sometimes contains a scene of his last battle but more often, the objects of the fight: livestock, women or other valuables.
The anthropomorphic stelae from the highland Yemen represent one more branch of the same tradition. A comparison with materials from other regions has made it possible to elucidate semantics of the images and of some important pictorial motifs.
Hadhramaut in South Arabia: Continuation and/or Rupture of Commemorative Traditions
The area consists of commemorative stelae, ruins, cenotaphs of pre-Islamic prophets and tombs of Islamic holy men; its name is locally interpreted as presence of death. The well Barhut is believed to be a gateway to the afterlife. Pilgrims seek from the ancestors the vital power of baraka.
Based on the author's long-term ethnological field work in South Arabia, this paper addresses Hadhramaut as a specific anthropogenic landscape. I called it a landscape of death and burial due to its ancient commemorative stelae, ruins, cenotaphs of pre-Islamic prophets and tombs of Islamic holy men; even its name is interpreted by native population as 'presence of death'. Moreover, the well Barhut, at the utmost East of Wadi Hadhramaut, is believed to be a gateway to the afterlife. Death and life are connected also because the local places of visitations are linked with potable water - the tomb of Prophet Hud, with the Masilah river; Mashhad 'Ali, with wells and rain reservoirs; the Mawla Matar sanctuary, with floods. Pilgrims seek from the pious ancestors the vital power of baraka; women ask the righteous to grant them a healthy posterity; ritual ibex-hunt meant to provide a good agricultural year. Continuation of commemorative traditions, kept in the region for many centuries, has been harassed during the last decades by Islamic radicals calling for abolition of 'the cult of ancestors' and 'grave-worship'.
Dying women in labor due to lack of EmOC: evidences from rural Uttar Pradesh, India
Death is a natural phenomenon which has an adverse implication on family and society. It is very true in the case of women`s death. When a woman dies it adversely affect the way of life of all family members. It`s irony that a woman creating a life is dying in labor. Today, maternal death is a matter of concern worldwide, especially in developing countries, where resources are scarce and poor supplies of services are suffered. Worldwide the harsh condition of maternal death happens due to complications of pregnancy and reproductive health. Critical condition of these maternal deaths and disability can be averted by providing emergency obstetric care in time. India with one of the underprivileged state Uttar Pradesh is suffering from high maternal mortality. Coping with these issues, many initiatives have been introduced by world health community and national governments. Among these initiatives, Emergency Obstetric Care (EmOC) is a potent tool to reduce maternal mortality and avert maternal deaths and disability but being a very efficient initiative it is still not as successful as assumed due to several barriers in path of its accessibility . The present paper aims to focus endangered women`s lives during pregnancy and obstetric in lack of EmOC worldwide with special reference of Uttar Pradesh in India. The role of EmOC to reduce maternal and obstetric death, its utilization, and the causes behind its insufficient supply and barriers especially socio-cultural barriers in accessibility of services in rural areas has been discussed broadly. This is an original research based on primary data.
Life and Death in India and in the Indian Diaspora
Many British, Canadian, North American cities have witnessed the emergence of ‘Little Indias’ in them. Indians reproduce their life style and many rites of life cycle. Death is more complicated matter. Most of Indians remaining in the diaspora dream of dying in their native place. If this is not possible, their last will is that their body should be buried or cremated in India. If this is also not possible, ‘little Indias for the dead’, i.e. cemeteries, cremation grounds, samadhis, sacred ponds or rivers for ashes to be thrown into are made or imagined.
Many British, Canadian, North American cities have witnessed the emergence of 'Little Indias' in them. Indians reproduce their life style and many rites of life cycle. Death is more complicated matter. Most of Indians remaining in the diaspora dream of dying in their native place. If this is not possible, their last will is that their body should be buried or cremated in India. If this is also not possible, 'little Indias for the dead', i.e. cemeteries, cremation grounds, samadhis, sacred ponds or rivers for ashes to be thrown into are made or imagined. The pattern of the latter are the Thames and some other rivers reinterpreted as the Ganges. The paper deals with patterns of life and death of Indians in India and the diaspora based on Indian fiction literature and on the author's own field material.
Changing Life-and-Death Patterns of British Bengalis (according to Monika Ali's novel 'Brick Lane')
British Bengalis, both of Hindu (and thus identifying themselves with Indians) or Muslim (and thus often calling themselves Bangladeshis) are tied with their Golden Bengal, the region of origin and the place of their dream. These links in relation to life and death patterns are analysed in the paper.
Modern Indian, and in particular Bengali, literature reflects vital social and cultural issues. It presents to the European readers the specific features of traditional culture in the contemporary world and can be used as a valuable ethnographic source. The novel "Brick Lane", written by Monica Ali in 2003, provides a modern vision of changing life-and-death patterns of British Bengalis. Special attention is paid not only to problems of social adaptation, but also to individual perception of reality, traditional and new patterns of self-identity. Monika Ali scrutinizes tense relations between different generations of British Bangladeshis. While retaining manners and customs of their parents, young people have to adjust to the norms of British society and to find their own way of incorporation into the new life. The novel depicts diverse variants of cultural adaptation and social integration. There are immigrants, who have totally integrated in the British society and those, who can't adapt and are forced to come back to Bangladesh.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.