Subject To Death: Life And Loss In A Buddhist World

Paperback | June 30, 2016

byRobert Desjarlais

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If any anthropologist living today can illuminate our dim understanding of death’s enigma, it is Robert Desjarlais. With Subject to Death, Desjarlais provides an intimate, philosophical account of death and mourning practices among Hyolmo Buddhists, an ethnically Tibetan Buddhist people from Nepal. He studies the death preparations of the Hyolmo, their specific rituals of grieving, and the practices they use to heal the psychological trauma of loss. Desjarlais’s research marks a major advance in the ethnographic study of death, dying, and grief, one with broad implications. Ethnologically nuanced, beautifully written, and twenty-five years in the making, Subject to Death is an insightful study of how fundamental aspects of human existence—identity, memory, agency, longing, bodiliness—are enacted and eventually dissolved through social and communicative practices.
 

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If any anthropologist living today can illuminate our dim understanding of death’s enigma, it is Robert Desjarlais. With Subject to Death, Desjarlais provides an intimate, philosophical account of death and mourning practices among Hyolmo Buddhists, an ethnically Tibetan Buddhist people from Nepal. He studies the death preparations of ...

Robert Desjarlais is professor of anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College. He is the author of several books, including Shelter Blues: Sanity and Selfhood among the Homeless and Counterplay: An Anthropologist at the Chessboard.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:June 30, 2016Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022635587X

ISBN - 13:9780226355870

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Note on Transliteration

Prelude
     “Ama, khoi?”
     Poiesis in life and death
     Theorizing death

I. The Impermanence of Life
     A good death, recorded
     Impossibly and intensively
     Creative subtraction
     This life
     Attachment
     An ethics of care
     Oral wills are harder than stone
     Seeing the face
     Liberation upon hearing
     The pulse of life

II. Passing from the Body
    Death, impermanence has arisen
    Transference of consciousness
    Between
    Field of apparitions
   Shifting, Not Dying
   “Yes, it’s death”
   Corpses, fashioned
   Bodies that wound
   The five sensual pleasures
   Consoling mourners
   Alternate rhythms

III. Dissolution
   Trouble
   Eliminating the corpse
   Burnt offerings
   Thirst
   Ashes, burnt bones
   Finality

IV. Transmutations
   Resting place
   Ritual poiesis, in time
   Dragging, hooking, naming
   Explanations, face to face
   “No form, no sound . . .”
   Generating merit
   Blank white
   Showing the way
   Those dangerous supplements

V. After Life
   Made for forgetting
   The enigma of mourning
   Staring into the sun
   Afterword
  
   Acknowledgments
   Notes
   References
   Index

Editorial Reviews

"Desjarlais’s Subject to Death is like stepping onto a train already in motion. Its momentum isn’t fierce but there’s no time to ease in––from its first pages, as readers we find ourselves in the midst of death and life and loss as they take and are given form. At the risk of overusing the term, there is great care in this book...not owing to an expected attitude or comportment towards life and death, but attending to what is required by the invitation Desjarlais makes to readers, made between author and subject and reader, as we are brought into a conversation rather than relegated only to eavesdrop."