Hacia el encuentro de mi anthropos: la muerte, dinamo estructural de la vida

  1. García Orellán, Rosa
Supervised by:
  1. Joxe Martín Apalategi Begiristain Director

Defence university: Universidad del País Vasco - Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea

Fecha de defensa: 07 May 2001

  1. Ma. Jesús Buxó Rey Chair
  2. José Miguel Apaolaza Beraza Secretary
  3. José Estevez Rodriguez Committee member
  4. Marcial Gondar Portasany Committee member
  5. Xosé Manuel González Reboredo Committee member

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 83879 DIALNET lock_openADDI editor


This thesis centres on mental representations of sickness and death. It is a comparative study of the Basque and Galician cultures, which examines a wide variety of cultural behaviours, concluding with reflections on the silences established when carrying out this study (1998-99). This is an intergenerational study, which reveals the transmission of those cultural elements which are activated and those that are silenced when passed from one generation to the other throughout the twentieth century. This offers an overview of how the symbolization of death has changed. Further, the thesis shows a constant dialogue between the individual and the social, played out especially clearly in traditional types of cures and reflections on death, and through the archetypes of immortality and miracles. With respect to illness, the symbolic actions encountered lead to the conclusions that humans are symbolic beings, per excellence. Our capacity to represent and project, though our beliefs, allows the entry of realities in which the passage from sickness to health is transformed in the body, without having to enter into the illness, but rather inviting it to exit the body. Regarding death, in the Basque cultural context one encounters behaviours present until the 1970s. A housewife (etxekoandre) would not attend a family burial but the men of the family would. This collective memory is sustained by a novel synthesis in the Basque Ethos, in which the act of burying the dead is to a man what activating memories of the deceased is to a woman. This is shown in the case of the family of Aitor Zableta, in which the father sought justice whereas the mother brought the body to the family home, thereby symbolizing the permanent presence of the deceased. This illustrates a substratum of the original cultural synthesis, home=pantheon, in the Basque collective memory. In the Galician cultural context at the close of the twentieth century, the home is the premonitory centre, but the deceased finds her or his permanent place in the parish. This demonstrates the underlying stratum of the original synthesis parish-Compaña (the company of lost souls) in Galician collective memory. The Compaña has left its mark on Galician beliefs, which hold that the dead are not alone but found in the company of those of the parish. This permits communication with them in a cemetery or through the Autos, a collective for the souls of the departed. Finally, in the late twentieth century the symbolization of death has shifted from a collective dialogue featuring significant communication between the living and the dead, to a private mourning where collective communication is silenced and the period of mourning reduced. Yet despite the establishment of silence, the dialogue between the individual and the social continues, giving evidence that we continue to re-energize life in light of a new symbolization of death.