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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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From House Burial to Cemeteries

From House Burial to Cemeteries

(p.191) 12 From House Burial to Cemeteries
In My Time of Dying

John Parker

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses the Legislative Council of the Gold Coast Colony's enactment of a law designed to replace the practice of burying the dead within their houses with that of burying them in modern, Western-style cemeteries. It explains the advantages of cemetery burial, which was a landmark in the bureaucratization of death on the Gold Coast and the beginning of a fundamental shift in the dominion of the dead. The outlawing of intramural burial and the establishment of regulated public cemeteries can be seen to represent the same transition that scholars have identified in the history of death in the West: the moment when the dead's long-established cohabitation with the living in the space of human culture was ended by their forcible relocation to the edge of town. The chapter considers how this development played out on the late nineteenth-century Gold Coast with respect to a crucial element in Philippe Ariès's notion of 'modern' death and Thomas W. Laqueur's of a 'new regime' of the dead: the legally enforced disposal of mortal remains in ordered, purpose-built and communal cemeteries.

Keywords:   cemeteries, cemetery burial, intramural burial, death, Gold Coast, Philippe Ariès, Thomas W. Laqueur

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