Social Scientist. v 26, no. 300-301 (May-June 1998) p. Back material.

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Ways of Dying: Death and its Meaning in South Asia

Elisabeth Schombucher Claus peter Zoller

Death as the basic condition of life and as the ultimate destiny of all men is also a decisive factor in the shaping of cultures. Death's emergence as rupture and loss, and man's reaction in the form of grief and mourning are at the core of a vast unfolding of belief systems and ritual practices which aim at dealing with this overwhelming reality coherently. Whether the here-after, into which death leads, is seen as the radical other than that which either precludes the possibility of the continuation of an individual existence or the possibility of any epistemological insight, or whether it is rather seen as a continuation of existence, allowing interactions between this and that world, man is inevitably directed towards this horizon that is death.

This volume aims at surveying how various cultures (tribal, regional and pan-Indian) of South Asia come to terms with this horizon of dying, death and the dead. It combines the ethnographic point of view that stresses the social and ritual forms related to death, and the conceptual aspects which favour the idea of an agency of texts. The contributions have been organized in three sections: the first section deals with the 'good' death, the second with 'untimely' or 'extraordinary' death and the third focuses on the interpretation of the theme of death in textual traditions and on how death is portrayed in various cultural performances.

ELISABETH SCHOMBUCHER is presently lecturer in Anthropology at the South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University.

CLAUS PETER ZOLLER taught at Frankfurt and Heidelberg Universities and since 1977 has been working as a research fellow in the Pakistan-German research project 'Culture

Area Karakorum' on the dialects and oral folk traditions of Indus-Kohistan.

ISBN 81-7304-260-8 DemySvo 1999 327pp. Rs.600

Of Clowns and Gods B rah mans and Babus: Humour in South Asian Literatures

Christina Oesterheld, Claus peter Zoller

Humour as a competence inherent in all human beings defies description and its huge variety, forms and faces have always engendered curiosity. For centuries people have attempted to pinpoint the essence of humour.

The contributors to this volume, however, restrict their study of humour to the written and oral literatures of South Asia. They approach the problems not only intuitively, from their own sense of humour, but go beyond that, out of a recognition that humour as 'performance' is culture specific and cannot, therefore, always be comprehended on the spot. Several contributors cast their work in various theoretical frameworks, particularly theories of humour.

CHRISTINA OESTERHELD studied indology at the HumboldtUniversity, Berlin, where she worked as a research assistant after finishing her studies. She did her Ph. D. on the contemporary Urdu novelist Qurratulain Hyder. Since 1990, she has been teaching Urdu and Hindi at the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg University.

CLAUS PETER ZOLLER studied Classical and Modern Indology, and Germanic philology in Tubingen and Heidelberg. He did his Ph. D. in 1980 on the grammar of a Bhutia language of the Garhwal Himalaya. ISBN 81-7304-260-8 DemySvo 1999 182pp. Rs.400


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