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Title: Manifestations of the dead : investigating ghost encounters among the Tsachila of western Ecuador
Author: Dolley, Daniel
ISNI:       0000 0004 5369 4202
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Focusing on the Tsachila, Amerindians of western Ecuador, this thesis examines how competing "common knowledge" accounts of the afterlife (conventional Tsachi, Catholic, and Protestant) are related to experiences of encounters with ghosts. Inspired by conversation analysis it advocates the study of these encounters through close attention to how accounts of them are constructed in conversation, from which they emerge as inherently disruptive and resistant to any definitive interpretation. From this starting point a descriptive account is given of the ways in which these anomalous experiences form the background to everyday life among the Tsachila. Experiential associations are identified linking ghosts with the circadian patterns of sound, light and sociality. Next the thesis examines and compares a selection of myths depicting the dead and animals and it is shown that the boundaries between myth and everyday life and between the living and the dead are uncertain and subject to revision in the light of experience. They cannot be taken for granted but must be constantly reinforced. An example of such reinforcement is provided by the Tsachi celebration of the Catholic Day of the Dead, and it is shown how this intersects with and is inflected by Tsachi attitudes to the dead and their disposal. In the final chapter a selection of accounts of personal encounters with ghosts is examined to reveal ways in which the common knowledge previously discussed is shaped, deployed and contested in the context of these accounts. It is suggested, in conclusion, that personal experience of this kind cannot be treated as simply a cultural expression, but that it exerts a motivating and disruptive force on thought and action.
Supervisor: Hsu, Elisabeth; Ewart, Elizabeth Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Colorado Indians (Ecuador) ; Indians of South America--Social life and customs ; Cosmology--South America ; Dead--Mythology ; Religion and culture--Ecuador ; Ecuador--Religious life and customs