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Qais Akbar Omar (GRS’16), a graduate student in the Creative Writing Program, has published a much-praised memoir, A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story. He recalls how the violence and tumult of civil war jolted his family, who, despite losing relatives, their home, and possessions, continued to nurture his wish to attend a university.

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Death Ritual as a Site of Subject Formation: Religious Variations on Socialist Funeral Ritual In Shanghai

4:00 pm on Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Anthropology Seminar Room PLS 102 | 232 Bay State Rd
Part of the Boston University Anthropology Lecture Series | Huwy-min Lucia Liu, PhD candidate, Department of Anthropology When ordinary Han Chinese die in contemporary Shanghai, they are commemorated in “memorial meetings” (zhuidaohui). The main event of these meetings is a highly conventionalized speech by the deceased’s work unit representative focusing on the deceased’s work history and extolling their contributions to “building socialism.” Since China’s transition toward a market economy in 1978, instead of abandoning it to embrace either traditional Chinese death rituals or “modernist” personalized funerals, Shanghai people have sacralized this secular-socialist ritual. These religious variations on socialist ritual construct religious subjectivities in conjunction with the socialist subjectivity of dead bodies. In this talk, Liu will explore death ritual as a site of subject formation: explaining what these socialist memorial meetings are, how they came about and still remain today, how Shanghai people have created religious variations to them, and what these mean for subject formation.