Makushi; Guyana; Death; Change; Grief; Care


In this article, I describe a Makushi wake in Guyana, where an opposition was drawn between people in mourning and their perception of others who appeared to them to be much more like partygoers. This opposition in affective states was made evident through the enactment of associated oppositions in bodily practices: feeding and eating, speaking and singing, and forms of social availability. Rather than consider the divergence in affective states as a form of moral disorder, I argue that an affective divide allows grief to be expressed by the mourners and safely circumscribed by their still-living community, who continue to enact Makushi people’s most socially valued capacities. I further consider the way in which Makushi ideas about death and funerary practice have changed over time and suggest that the affective divide is an enduring feature of Makushi grief work, albeit within a rite transformed.