Death of the nine-night Jamaican heritage and identity crisis in response to changing death rituals

Dixon, Predencia E. (2023). Death of the nine-night Jamaican heritage and identity crisis in response to changing death rituals. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The research investigated whether changes to death rituals constituted a crisis in heritage and national identity in Jamaica and the Jamaican UK diaspora based on concerns being expressed in both locations. It establishes the nature, extent and causes of the changes, with particular reference to Jamaica’s post-slavery and post-colonial history, and discusses the consequences of the changes in Jamaica, within the UK diaspora, and the wider implications for heritage in diasporas.

The study employed an interpretative philosophy and mixed method data collection including semi-structured interviews, oral history, and ethnographic observations of death ritual events in both locations.

Using the concept of crisis as ‘events and processes that carry severe threat, uncertainty, an unknown outcome, and urgency’ (Farazmand, 2014 p3) and the understanding that ‘crisis is a crisis because the individual knows no response to deal with a situation’ (Carkhuff and Berenson, 1977 p165), the study finds that certain sectors of the Jamaican population in both locations experience the changes to the death rituals as crises of heritage and national identity.

The discussion of the findings is framed within the concepts of crisis of change, living in liminality, and the creativity of ambivalence as ways of understanding the multiple crises within which the changes to the death rituals are being experienced. By interpreting the data through the lens of ambivalence the research proposes that it is an explanation for Jamaica’s prominence on the world stage despite its diminutive physical size and demographics.

The study makes significant contributions to a broad spectrum of social and political theories including ritual, and in particular the concept of liminality as both a process within ritual, and as an analytical tool of local and global crisis. It contributes to religious studies, specifically in the areas of death and bereavement studies. It also contributes to theories of heritage, identity, national identity, and diaspora, including the use of relational dialectic theory to demonstrate the extended familial concept of diaspora and the homeland.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of History
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GT Manners and customs
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration


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