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African Diaspora Newsletter No.9


reis.jpg (100703 bytes) Death Is a Festival :
Funeral Rites and Rebellion in Nineteenth-Century Brazil

by João José Reis
Translated by H. Sabrina Gledhill

University of North Carolina Press
Series: Latin America in Translation/en Traducción/em Tradução - The Brasiliana Collection

This work has won the following awards
Winner of the 1996 Clarence H. Haring Prize, American Historical Association
Winner of the 1995 Jabuti Prize for Nonfiction, Brazilian Book Council

This award-winning social history of death and funeral rites during the early decades of Brazil's independence from Portugal focuses on the Cemiterada movement in Salvador, capital of the province of Bahia. The book opens with a lively account of the popular riot that ensued when, in 1836, the government condemned the traditional burial of bodies inside Catholic church buildings and granted a private company a monopoly over burials.

This episode is used by Reis to examine the customs of death and burial in Bahian society, explore the economic and religious conflicts behind the move for funerary reforms and the maintenance of traditional rituals of dying, and understand how people dealt with new concerns sparked by modernization and science. Viewing culture within its social context, he illuminates the commonalities and differences that shaped death and its rituals for rich and poor, men and women, slaves and masters, adults and children, foreigners and Brazilians.

This translation makes the book, originally published in Brazil in 1993, available in English for the first time.

Department of History, York University,  Toronto, Canada
Email: nigerian@yorku.ca
Fax: (416) 650-8173