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El Dia de los Muertos American-style: Communicating with the Living
Unformatted Document Text:  7 untimely deaths. Normal inhibitions were lowered and pent-up emotions were manifested through riotous festivities and drunkenness in the cemeteries during the Days of the Dead. 19 Scholars such as Mikhail Bakhtin, Max Gluckman and Peter Burke have described the place of festival in traditional societies as a time of social inversion - a privileged time when what was often thought could finally be expressed with relative impunity. Day of the Dead was such a time, and historical evidence suggests that the special closeness that participants felt with departed loved ones during this holiday encouraged communal reflections about the conditions under which they lived and died. Juan Pedro Viquiera notes that the observance of Day of the Dead and other popular religious festivals during colonial times was a form of “resistance of the popular classes who, in order to defend their interests, entrenched themselves behind their traditions.” 20 Writing on the resistance of Andean peasants to Spanish colonial rule, Steve J. Stern contends that a certain interplay existed between the heightened moral consciousness experienced while remembering the dead, and an increased collective consciousness of material exploitation. 21 Similarly, William B. Taylor notes that by connecting communities to their past, cemeteries in colonial Latin America were frequently sites for rebellions or meeting places for the collective planning of rebellions. 22 So threatening to the ruling elite were the social tensions expressed during Day of the Dead in Mexico and what is now Central America, that the Royal Office of Crime passed decrees in 1766 prohibiting gatherings in cemeteries and the sale of alcohol after 9:00 p.m. World, p. 161. 19 Elizabeth Carmichael and Chloe Sayer, The Skeleton at the Feast: The Day of the Dead in Mexico, p. 43. 20 Juan Pedro Viquiera, “La Ilustracion y las fiestas religiosas populares en la ciudad de Mexico (1730-1821)” in Cuicuilco 14-15, July 1984, p. 14. (Translation mine.) 21 Steve J. Stern, Resistance, Rebellion and Consciousness in the Andean Peasant World, p. 31. 22 William B. Taylor, Drinking, Homicide and Rebellion, p. 118-119.

Authors: Marchi, Regina Miriam.
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7
untimely deaths. Normal inhibitions were lowered and pent-up emotions were manifested
through riotous festivities and drunkenness in the cemeteries during the Days of the Dead.
19
Scholars such as Mikhail Bakhtin, Max Gluckman and Peter Burke have described the place of
festival in traditional societies as a time of social inversion - a privileged time when what was
often thought could finally be expressed with relative impunity. Day of the Dead was such a
time, and historical evidence suggests that the special closeness that participants felt with
departed loved ones during this holiday encouraged communal reflections about the conditions
under which they lived and died.
Juan Pedro Viquiera notes that the observance of Day of the Dead and other popular
religious festivals during colonial times was a form of “resistance of the popular classes who, in
order to defend their interests, entrenched themselves behind their traditions.”
20
Writing on the
resistance of Andean peasants to Spanish colonial rule, Steve J. Stern contends that a certain
interplay existed between the heightened moral consciousness experienced while remembering
the dead, and an increased collective consciousness of material exploitation.
21
Similarly,
William B. Taylor notes that by connecting communities to their past, cemeteries in colonial
Latin America were frequently sites for rebellions or meeting places for the collective planning
of rebellions.
22
So threatening to the ruling elite were the social tensions expressed during Day
of the Dead in Mexico and what is now Central America, that the Royal Office of Crime passed
decrees in 1766 prohibiting gatherings in cemeteries and the sale of alcohol after 9:00 p.m.
World, p. 161.
19
Elizabeth Carmichael and Chloe Sayer, The Skeleton at the Feast: The Day of the Dead in Mexico, p. 43.
20
Juan Pedro Viquiera, “La Ilustracion y las fiestas religiosas populares en la ciudad de Mexico (1730-1821)” in
Cuicuilco 14-15, July 1984, p. 14. (Translation mine.)
21
Steve J. Stern, Resistance, Rebellion and Consciousness in the Andean Peasant World, p. 31.
22
William B. Taylor, Drinking, Homicide and Rebellion, p. 118-119.


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