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After the MassacreCommemoration and Consolation in Ha My and My Lai$
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Heonik Kwon

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520247963

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520247963.001.0001

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Ancestors in the Street

Ancestors in the Street

(p.85) CHAPTER 4 Ancestors in the Street
After the Massacre

Heonik Kwon

University of California Press

This chapter provides general accounts of contemporary domestic death remembrance activities and discusses the dual structure of ghosts and ancestors within which these activities take place. Furthermore, it demonstrates how the memory of mass death does not fit within the traditional classification of death. The duality of death is manifested in Vietnamese ritual organization. Ghosts and ancestors constitute an elementary structure of Vietnamese domestic ritual. This horizontal, diametric duality of ancestral shrine versus external shrine for ghosts is a practical expression of the concentric dualism of inside versus outside. However, the Vietnam War made the traditional distinction between inside and outside practically meaningless and, in fact, turned the traditional communal “inside” into a fierce and confusing battlefield. Eventually, the renovation of the ancestral place, in the work of active remembrance, materialized its opposite symbol and revitalized the marginal identities represented by it.

Keywords:   remembrance, mass death, ancestors, dual structure, Vietnam War

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