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Democracy as DeathThe Moral Order of Anti-Liberal Politics in South Africa$
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Jason Hickel

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780520284227

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520284227.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 03 June 2020

Death in an Age of Wild Ghosts

Death in an Age of Wild Ghosts

(p.146) 5 Death in an Age of Wild Ghosts
Democracy as Death

Jason Hickel

University of California Press

This chapter explores the sacrificial rites that families in rural Zululand perform in their attempts to restore hierarchies and reestablish the conditions for social reproduction. It focuses specifically on mortuary ritual, which leverages the symbolic dimensions of bovine anatomy to reorder kinship, reincorporate the wild ghosts of lost ancestors, and cure families of misfortunes. This ritual work reestablishes a moral terrain that helps mitigate the abjection that defines rural KwaZulu-Natal: people seek to build the foundations for a prosperous future not by rejecting the past, but by returning to it to establish good relationships with the dead. These rituals offer a poignant call for justice from a people who have been excluded from the promises of liberation. They also provide interesting clues about the logic of violence that migrants exercised against their enemies during the civil war of the 1980s and 1990s.

Keywords:   ritual, sacrifice, funeral rites, feasting, healing, violence, political identity

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