Northwestern University – African Studies

620 Library Place

United States

Dying on time: Cultures of Death and Time in Muslim Northern Nigeria

Monday, November 26, 2012
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

620 Library Place, conference room
Evanston, IL 60201 map it

– Faculty/Staff – Student – Public

Kate Dargis   847-491-7323

Program of African Studies

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Dying on time: Cultures of Death and Time in Muslim Northern Nigeria

Murray Last, Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology, University College, London and former editor of the journal AFRICA

Abstract: This paper explores why and how more Muslims in a major cemetery within Kano city (northern Nigeria) come to die on a Friday. The data come from a year-long survey. More generally the paper looks at the way dying people anywhere are often aware that they are close to death: they then deliberately hang on till someone special comes to their bedside; or they deliberately let go at a moment of their choice. So why does a category of Muslims (especially young children) choose to die on a Friday? World-wide, an emphasis on which is the right day to die is unusual: so the essay looks at the symbolic importance of days rather than, say, dates in the process of death. In short, can we choose the very moment at which we die – without it counting as suicide??

Bio: Professor Murray Last (Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, UCL). Professor Last’s current research programme largely centres around publishing the various materials he and his various Nigerian colleagues have collected on health and social issues in contemporary Kano over the last decade.

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