Skip to main content
Ref ID: 28152
Ref Type: Journal Article
Authors: Gilmore, Helen
Schafer, Cyril
Halcrow, Siân
Title: <i>Tapu</i> and the invention of the "death taboo": an analysis of the transformation of a Polynesian cultural concept
Date: 2013
Source: Journal of Social Archaeology
Abstract: Is death ‘‘taboo’’ or ‘‘<i>tapu</i>’’? Why do these two versions of the same word evoke such different cultural responses to issues of death and the dead? In this paper, we explore Western anthropological interpretations of the ‘‘death taboo’’, its relationship to Māori understanding of <i>tapu</i>, and how the transformation of <i>tapu</i> into ‘‘taboo’’ influences engagement with human remains. We maintain that such an anthropological approach—incorporating historical, archaeological and biological anthropological perspectives— can further contribute to a number of cross-cultural, cross-disciplinary debates. We further argue that this will expand and elucidate cross-cultural understandings of responses to death by siting them within specific historical-cultural contexts and locations.
Date Created: 5/1/2014
Volume: 13
Number: 3
Page Start: 331
Page End: 349