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A gender perspective on Greece’s death cult

A research initiative combined studies in ancient history with ethnographic fieldwork in modern Greece, as a basis for investigating the role of women in the ancient death cult. This approach intended to evolve a new, female perspective of Greek 'reality' — one historically presented by men.
A gender perspective on Greece’s death cult
The 'Greek women and death, ancient and modern: A comparative analysis' (GREEK WOMEN - DEATH) project examined the relationship between modern Greek death rituals and ancient written and visual sources on the topics of death and gender. To achieve the goal of supplementing the male perspective on historical sources with a female one, two main areas of activity were covered. First, fieldwork was conducted in Greece on various death rituals, and in particular on religious festivals dedicated to deceased persons. Second, field data were then compared with ancient sources through an analysis focused on assumed characteristics connected with the death cult in ancient as well as contemporary Greece.

Other activities included data collection from both Greek and international sources (museums, libraries, research centres), and participation and presentations at conferences. Project results have been disseminated through various publications, including papers, articles in scientific peer-reviewed journals and anthologies, and a scientific book in Norwegian.

GREEK WOMEN - DEATH research and fieldwork succeeded in contributing comparative and fresh knowledge and empirical data on the subject of Greek women and death. In addition, analyses of the social meaning of the death cult as well as the differential gender roles in related rituals have offered a new outlook on the topic, beyond the Greek context. Research results thus hold significance for comparative cultural studies as well as for women’s and gender research.

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