Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
In My Time of DyingA History of Death and the Dead in West Africa$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

John Parker

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780691193151

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691193151.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 24 January 2022

Body, Soul and Person

Body, Soul and Person

(p.26) 2 Body, Soul and Person
(p.iii) In My Time of Dying

John Parker

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines how the African peoples of the Gold Coast and its hinterland conceived the body, the soul and the person. It investigates what was seen to constitute a human being and what happened to those elements after death. To think historically about death, we need too to think about being alive. Just as the living know that one day their bodily existence will come to an end and they will join the ranks of the dead, so the dead — whether they are aware of the fact or not — were once living people. The chapter argues that the ideas about what constitutes a person, about the relationship between the person and the physical body, and about what remains of that personhood once the body itself is dead and buried are fundamental to how any society approaches matters of mortality. These issues have been of considerable interest to scholars of many parts of Africa and elsewhere in the non-Western world: first to colonial-era ethnographers and sociologists wishing to establish typologies of so-called primitive thought, and more recently to those concerned to interrogate and destabilize these typologies. The chapter aims to sketch a set of normative logics, drawing on some key seventeenth- and eighteenth-century sources, together with later ethnographic works and secondary scholarship. The task will then be to insert these logics into history.

Keywords:   Gold Coast, human being, death, mortality, Africa

Princeton Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.