Funeral Culture


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Contemporary forms of living and dying in Swaziland cannot be understood apart from the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, according to anthropologist Casey Golomski. In Africa's last absolute monarchy, the story of 15 years of global collaboration in treatment and intervention is also one of ordinary people facing the work of caring for the sick and dying and burying the dead. Golomski's ethnography shows how AIDS posed challenging questions about the value of life, culture, and materiality to drive new forms and practices for funerals. Many of these forms and practicesnewly catered funeral feasts, an expanded market for life insurance, and the kingdom's first crematoriumare now conspicuous across the landscape and culturally disruptive in a highly traditionalist setting. This powerful and original account details how these new matters of death, dying, and funerals have become entrenched in peoples' everyday lives and become part of a quest to create dignity in the wake of a devastating epidemic.


Note on Transliteration

Introduction Funeral Culture: Dignity, Work, and Cultural Change

Chapter 1 Reckoning Life: Dying from AIDS to Living with HIV

Chapter 2 Religious Healing and Resurrection: "Faith Without Work is Dead"

Chapter 3 The Secrets of Life Insurance: Savings, Care, and the Witch

Chapter 4 Grounded: Body Politics of Burial and Cremation

Chapter 5 Life in a Takeaway Box: Mobility and Purity in Funeral Feasts

Chapter 6 Commemoration and Cultural Change: Memento Radicalis

Conclusion The Afterlives of Work


I. siSwati-American English Glossary

II. List of Abbreviations




Sciences humaines et sociales
South Africa
Transformation of culture
Indigenous religion
Culture change
African traditional religion
Indiana University Press
African studies
AIDS pandemic
Global health
Trauma (medicine)
Southern Africa
Life insurance
Religious studies
State of emergency
Health care
Rites of Passage
Medical anthropology
Quality of life
Sub-Saharan Africa
Cultural anthropology
Institut universitaire professionnalisé
Syndrome d'immunodéficience acquise
Afrique du Sud


Publié par
Date de parution 04 juin 2018
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253036483
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 8 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0025€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

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FUNER AL CULtURE AIDS, Work, and Cultural Change in an African Kingdom
Caséy GOlOmski
Indiana Univérsiy Préss
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press Office of Scholarly Publishing Herman B Wells Library 350 1320 East 10th Street Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA
© 2018 by Casey Golomski All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Cataloging information is available from the Library of Congress.
ISBN 978-0-253-03644-5 (cloth) ISBN 978-0-253-03645-2 (paperback) ISBN 978-0-253-03646-9 (ebook)
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Acknowledgments Note on Transliteration Introduction: Funeral Culture: Dignity, Work, and Cultural Change Reckoning Life: Dying from AIDS to Living with HIV Religious Healing and Resurrection: “Faith without Work Is Dead” The Secrets of Life Insurance: Saving, Care, and the Witch Grounded: Body Politics of Burial and Cremation Life in a Takeaway Box: Mobility and Purity in Funeral Feasts Commemoration and Cultural Change:Memento Radicalis Conclusion: The Afterlives of Work Appendix I. siSwati-American English Glossary II. List of Abbreviations Bibliography Index
COOPERATION, COLLEGIALITY, FRIENDSHIP, and love are qualities that I value in mutual relationships and are what I received from many people as I developed robust interests in culture and humanitarian concern into ethnographic research for this book. I have been waiting to graciously thank many of them here.Siyabonga tsine. Doing sociocultural anthropology as a richly descriptive comparative study of human being means learning about, listening to, and empathizing with others around us. I learned these skills rst from my family: my dad, Kenneth Edwin Golomski, or “G,” a social studies educator and coach, and my mom, Monica Kathleen Brady Berg Golomski, a business educator and heartening citizen. Our own rituals together of dinners, holidays, and Friday-night football games gave me grounds to think creatively about the cultural and ritual life of our own communities and others. I have to begin with them, because they gave me life and let me become who I am. In Swaziland, people who gave me a hand, a chance, and a tip or two were: Darrin Adams, Doug and Jen Armitage, Ivy Bennett, Nelly Bennett, Teresa Bennett, the late Phil Bonner, George Choongwa, Bongani Dlamini, Lindiwe Dlamini, Mlungisi Dlamini, Velabo Dlamini, Rebecca Fielding-Miller, Simphiwe Groening, Barb Houle, Shorty Khumalo, Hlanhla Lukhele, Mzwandile Lukhele, S. T. Lukhele, Zodwa Mabuza, Nkosingiphile Makama, Veli Matsebula, emba Mavuso, Vusi Mbatha, Nokuthula Mbatha, Vukile Mbatha, Vusi Mbatha, Almon Bingo, S’thembile Mbingo, Esther Mbuli, Bill and Erin McCoy, Bakhetsile Mdluli, Buhle Mdluli, Busi Mdluli, Sizwe Mdluli, S’busie Mpungose, Cebsile Ndzinisa, abile Ngubane, Fire Ngwenya, Comfort Ngwenya, Lindiwe Ngwenya, Phindile Nsibande, Buhle Shongwe, Khole Shongwe, Martha Shongwe, Mbabane Shongwe, Phumlani Shongwe, Sebenele Shongwe, Xolani Shongwe, and Martha Vankampen Hertslet. ank you to the staffs at the United States Embassy and the National Archives, and to Rosemary Andrade and Donald Nkonyane at the National Museum for access to the collections and coordinating illustration permissions with Aleta Armstrong. Nicodemus Fru Awasom, Nhlanhla C. Dlamini, Hebron L. Ndlovu, and Sonene Nyawo at the University of Swaziland’s Department of History and the Department of eology and Religious Studies were all innovative interlocutors, pushing me to rethink my understanding of culture and Swaziland. Colleagues I met on a postdoctoral fellowship in South Africa at the University of the Witwatersrand from 2014 on enlightened me and continue to inspire me. e university is a cosmopolitan place drawing in itinerant citizens who are also well imbricated in the lifeworld I describe in this book. On cold Johannesburg evenings over dinner and glasses of red wine, in the office, and in seminars, the times I spent together with the following people encouraged me to forward my work as part of a shared humanist and social scientic endeavor: Max Bolt, Cath Burns, Sharad Chari, David Coplan, Gabby Dlamini, Claudia Gastrow, Kelly Gillespie, Pamila Gupta, Julia Hornberger, Deborah James, Lenore Manderson, Achille Mbembe, Fraser McNeill, Dilip Menon, Nolwazi Mkhwanazi, Polo Moji, Danai Mupotsa, Kirk Sides, Robert ornton, Daria Trentini, Joshua Z. Walker, Hylton White, Tim Wright, and Eric Worby; the staff of the Department of Social Anthropology, Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research and its Humanities Graduate Centre; and colleagues at several writing retreats and workshops, including the 14th and 15th Johannesburg Workshops in eory and Criticism. I learned siSwati by way of isiZulu. Many of my rst words in these tongues I spoke with Zoliswa Mali and Beth Restrick at the Boston University African Studies Center, where I also thankfully met Parker Shipton. A Fulbright-Hays grant and the United States Department of Education sponsored my isiZulu language training at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg with Audrey Nonhlanhla Mbeje and abile Mbatha Ngubane. From there, T. J. Tallie, Joseph D. Napolitano, and April Sizemore-Barber became ongoing language and writing partners. Martha Shongwe and Cebsile Ndzinisa were also special teachers of siSwati. My early academic mentors, the late Anthony Galt, Sabine Hyland, and Victoria B. Tashjian, and at
Brandeis University Mark Auslander, Elizabeth Ferry, Charles Golden, David Jacobson, Nina Kammerer, Sarah Lamb, Janet McIntosh, Rick Parmentier, and Ellen Schattschneider helped cultivate my interests and analyses. My Brandeis peers and I prided ourselves on celebrating an inclusive, supportive, and rigorous environment, and I am very proud to see where it has gotten us all in life. I also thank my colleagues at the Departments of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and the University of New Hampshire for being encouraging and for inspiring me to write beyond borders. At Harvard Divinity School, the theory, thoughtfulness, and kind words of Michael D. Jackson lit my path forward. Delivering paper presentations based on this work to best reshape it for a wider audience was helpful. I was able to do so for meetings of the International Research Network on Religion and AIDS in Africa, the African Studies Association, the Society for Cultural Anthropology, the American Ethnological Society, the South African Visual Arts Historians and Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art, and the American Anthropological Association. I received exceptional feedback from audiences at invited talks based on this research. I presented these talks for Nhlanhla C. Dlamini and the University of Swaziland History Staff Seminar Series, Alan Whiteside and the University of KwaZulu-Natal Westville’s Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD), Boston University’s African Studies Center Walter Rodney Seminar Series, and the University of the Witwatersrand’s Department of Anthropology and Centre for Indian Studies in Africa. Dee Mortensen thankfully saw my ethnographic vision. At Indiana University Press, she, Paige Rasmussen, Rachel Rosolina, Stephen Williams, and Julie Davis helpfully guided me. Jessica Vineyard and the staff at Ninestars were exceptional copyeditors, and Cyndy Brown was a stellar indexer. Several colleagues and friends from different seasons of my life read specic parts of the manuscript, wrote comments, and helped revise it overall, securing its growth from early ideas and chapters to book proposal, revisions, and completion: James Amanze, Joel Cabrita, Shelby Carpenter, Arianna Huhn, Anna Jaysane-Darr, Casey J. Miller, Smita Lahiri, Vito Laterza, Mrinalini Tankha, Allison B. Taylor, Daria Trentini, Laura Ann Twagira, Ilana van Wyk, Hylton White, and Eric Worby. Melissa Clark helpfully produced the map. Others, such as Eric Kuzma and Teri Del Rosso made the intersection of personal life and writing extraordinary. For their nal editorial efforts, wisdom, and well wishes at the very end of it all, I am indebted to Rebecca Fielding-Miller, Jessica A. Hardin, Ieva Jusionyte, George Paul Meiu, Robin Root, and April Sizemore-Barber. I am forever grateful for your gifts.
Note on Transliteration
Transliteration—notes on pronouncing siSwati words, including places and people’s names: c The written consonant “c,” as inumcwasho(national chastity rites), is pronounced as a dental click by clicking the tip of the tongue on the back of the front teeth. hl The written consonant pair “hl” is a fricative. It is pronounced like a lisp, by flattening the tip of the tongue on the roof of the mouth, then exhaling and articulating the “l,” and is followed by a vowel, as insihlahla(“tree”). ph The written consonant pair “ph” is pronounced as a normal “p,” exhaling to emphasize the “h.” th Like “ph,” “th” is pronounced as a normal “t,” exhaling to emphasize the “h.”
Introduction: Funeral Culture: Dignity, Work, and Cultural Change
INSIDE AN INKY copy of theSwazi Observer, one of the two newspapers in the Kingdom of Swaziland, the op-eds are just before the obituaries. Some op-eds are inspirational and others cheeky, as in one series called “Societal Scales” by Mr. Dumisa Dlamini, about the ways women and men don’t get along. “Does a Man Love His Car More an His First Lady?” (2007) and “e Forgotten, Deserted, Infected but Loyal Bride” (2015) are some colorful titles in his series. One article I read online in 2006 called “ose Tears, Roses and Messages at Men’s Funerals” (November 18) stood out because of its take on “culture”:
Life is just a precious gi to mankind whose value can never be quanti@ed. Whosoever is alive is treasured by lots and lots of people even if they were not to come out openly whilst (s)he is alive to tell him. . . . A man has this manner of bringing a balance within the relationships he has established with these people close to his heart. . . . Whilst he breathes he has made his person, love and third leg [penis] very useful somewhere beyond the parameters of his marriage. . . . Societal Scales has always had it that men are never neat in their intimate dealings and much of this untidiness is exposed just when the fella has breathed his last. Here is thisnew culture of funerals being extended beyond the family and publicised so that friends, acquaintances and relatives could be informed of the demise of the man. Hardly in the body the family is prepared for the shock that comes with funerals. Whilst all would be grieved and sore at heart, at times you would be shocked at the ood of tears, the bunch of roses and heap of messages from the mourners. (emphasis added)
Dlamini goes on to write about women getting angry or embarrassed at their husbands’ funerals when it comes out that the men had extramarital lovers. e lovers’ identities are supposedly revealed when they show up with gis such as owers and personal condolences printed on small cards. “Here is the biggest bunch from Mandy with love and narrating all the good times she has spent with the deceased and their beautiful daughter,” he writes, describing how the man’s widow would start, “wailing in shock that her husband of many years has sired bastards outside the holy matrimony. Had it not been for the owers, nobody would have heard of the clandestine affair.” In this account, owers, cards, and ambiguities surrounding the event lay the groundwork for what, in passing, Dlamini cites as a “new culture of funerals.” “Society being what it is would get a chance to gossip about the scandalous funeral where the hidden came to exposure,” he concludes, “and at the wrong place—the graveside. . . . Whatever the situation is, be wary of the ROSES, TEARS, FLOWERS AND MESSAGES BROUGHT 1 at a man’s funeral.”