Abstract

How does death, and the dead, shape the making of living subjectivities? How do the worlds of the dead entwine with the worlds of the living? Do the dead have an agency that engages the spaces of the living and their epistemes? Based on eight-month fieldwork during 2014, this ethnography focuses on a network of villages in Bilbeis in Egypt to analyze the sociality of death and how the social is reassembled to comprise networks among the living and the dead. By studying the everydayness of death through memories of the dead, narratives of the past, casual talks surrounding death, and the spatiality of death in terms of the historical significance of a particular cemetery and the daily lives of its surrounding villages, I trace the power configurations and historical processes that shaped the development of contemporary understandings of death and subjectivity within this self-proclaimed Muslim community. Drawing on Latour’s works on (re)assemblages and networks, my research calls attention to motion in its attempts to trace death, space, and knowledge(s) of death. It questions the conceptualization of death as a self-contained event or finality (an “ending”) and instead, reframes it as a dynamic process that is constitutive of life – a movement that severs certain ties while reconstituting others. Death is then a different form of existence, and the dead are simultaneously present and absent, with (im)material lives of their own, whether in a different metaphysical realm or in the memories, affectivities, and spaces of the living. The entanglements of life and death also extend to the cemetery, which presents a space that is contested and (re)shaped, for it is simultaneously a space of the ordinary – another structure in the everyday landscape – as well as a space of the extraordinary, of otherness, of transgression – where unconventional human activities, such as crime, occur as well as metaphysical beings operate at night. In this sense, there are different imaginaries and networks of subjectivities and agencies, both human and non-human, at work.

Degree Name

MA in Sociology-Anthropology

Graduation Date

6-1-2015

Online Submission Date

May 2015

First Advisor

Al-Rustom, Hakem

Committee Member 1

Sabea, Hanan

Committee Member 2

Khayyat, Munira

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Extent

194 p.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Death -- Egypt -- Folklore.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Death -- Egypt.

Rights

The author retains all rights with regard to copyright. The author certifies that written permission from the owner(s) of third-party copyrighted matter included in the thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study has been obtained. The author further certifies that IRB approval has been obtained for this thesis, or that IRB approval is not necessary for this thesis. Insofar as this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study is an educational record as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC 1232g), the author has granted consent to disclosure of it to anyone who requests a copy. The author has granted the American University in Cairo or its agents a non-exclusive license to archive this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study, and to make it accessible, in whole or in part, in all forms of media, now or hereafter known.

IRB

Approval has been obtained for this item

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