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Journal Article

Transforming mortuary rituals in “Christian” oceania: Post-mission cemeteries from Aniwa, Vanuatu


Bedford,  Stuart       
Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Flexner, J. L., Muir, B., Bedford, S., Valentin, F., Elena, D., & Samoria, D. (2020). Transforming mortuary rituals in “Christian” oceania: Post-mission cemeteries from Aniwa, Vanuatu. Journal of the Polynesian Society, 129(3), 303-326. Retrieved from http://thepolynesiansociety.org/jps/index.php/JPS/article/view/482.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-E0EF-E
Extensive cemeteries from Aniwa Island, Vanuatu, provide evidence for historical transformations in ritual practice among Christian islanders that continue through the present day. These cemeteries contain novel grave forms, including many lined with coral and mortar upright slabs that were not present on the island traditionally. The graves largely post-date European missionary presence on the island. They represent an indigenous adaptation of introduced forms and materials that occurred decades after the conversion of Aniwans to Christianity in the 1860s. Local evidence indicates that the graves are primarily a marker of attachment to kinship and place beginning in the period when the population stabilised and began to rebound after the major nineteenth-century population collapse.