Until 2016, the Greenwood Cemetery in Waco, Texas, kept a fence separating where white and black people were buried. Photo by Rod Aydelotte

How radicalizing death makes us think about post-mortem oppression

Albeit forced/coerced or through assimilation or acculturation, systems of power and privilege were passed through deathways and death practices. It is, then, imperative to recognize how European colonialism — via slavery, war, and genocide — has marginalized, trivialized, and outright negated deathways and death practices, of nations, cultures and persons deemed “other”. Once direct colonial rule was established and mass genocide followed, later in the twentieth century Native American burial grounds were not seen as sacred spaces but untapped discoveries where American archeologists could build the discipline. Until 1990, the practice of digging up and ravaging the sacred burial grounds of Native Americans was for the greater good of historical discovery, so to display skeletal remains and burial wares in American museums was normal and natural.

Starting towards the end of the nineteenth century, the American way of death (read white American) was to deny death and put it away in a hospital. Death became disconnected from life in a way. This is the exact opposite of what Anderson and Woticky argue. Anderson and Woticky plainly state that among the Indigenous and First Nations death is not solely about the body but the spirit, a healing of the spirit through ceremony.

Brazilian journalist, MA in Semiotics and PhD candidate in Visual Arts. Head of innovation and futurism at UP Lab. Cyberpunk enthusiast and researcher.

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