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In My Time of DyingA History of Death and the Dead in West Africa$
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John Parker

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780691193151

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691193151.001.0001

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Gold, Wealth and Burial

Gold, Wealth and Burial

(p.76) 5 Gold, Wealth and Burial
In My Time of Dying

John Parker

Princeton University Press

This chapter looks at the material and conceptual roles of gold in matters of death and burial on the Gold Coast and in the Akan forest in the era of Atlantic commerce. It argues that death and the ends of life were intimately bound up with ideologies concerning gold, wealth, accumulation and increase. The chapter identifies one aspect of this role as crucial to an understanding of the changing contract between Asante state and society: inheritance and death duties. Another has been touched on only in passing: the interment — and the periodic disinterment — of gold in graves. Both, in essence, were about exchange: exchange between generations, and between the living and the dead. Finally, the chapter explores how the symbolic power of gold in Asante reached dizzying heights of complexity.

Keywords:   gold, death, burial, Akan forest, inheritance, interment, Asante, Atlantic commerce, Gold Coast, death duties

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