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As part of the "Borders, Circulations, Interculturalities and Human-Milieu Interactions" seminar, the LSH DFR, in collaboration with the LEEISA and MINEA laboratories, is organising a conference entitled "Ambiguous symbolic borders. Feast of the dead, heritage and violence in Mexico". 

It will be presented by Magali Demanget, anthropologist, Université Montpellier 3, on Tuesday 4 April from 6pm to 8pm in F002.

This presentation will take as its starting point the discrepancy observed in Mexico between the publicity surrounding the 'indigenous festivals dedicated to the dead' promoted by UNESCO and the extreme violence currently tearing the country apart. The presentation will draw on Magali Demanget's fieldwork in the Sierra Mazateca over the last decade to explore the ritual relationships forged during these celebrations between the living and the dead, and the way in which they are staged for heritage purposes. The presentation will address both the establishment of positive representations of the memory of the dead, whether as heritage or not, and their dislocation, as seen in particular in the case of 'enforced disappearances'. This perspective will lead us to consider the border from the angle of its polysemy, its thickness and its dynamics, and also its erasure. The border will be considered in turn as the irreversible temporal passage from life to death, as its symbolisation and as a potentially crossable categorical boundary between the living and the dead, as a ritual framework capable of circumscribing the space-time allowing this passage, or as a shifting and malleable symbolic boundary drawn up for the purposes of ethnicised identity demarcation. This exploration will also examine the implications of its dissolution.

A few words about the speaker:

Magali Demanget teaches anthropology at Paul Valéry University and is a member of the UMR Sens (Savoirs Environnement société). Her research takes place in Mexico, where she is particularly interested in the processes involved in the heritage of shamanism and the festival of the dead. In 2022 she published Le Commerce de la Chair des Dieux. Chamanisme et modernité en terres mazatèques, published by Presses Universitaires de Rennes ('Des Amériques' collection), and in 2015 she co-edited with Carine Chavarochette and Olivier Givre the book Faire Frontière(s). Raisons politiques et usages symboliques, published by Karthala (Hommes et Sociétés collection).

Photo credit : Sierra Mazateca, upper Huautla cemetery, 2 November 2011, Mexico © Magali Demanget

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