This article approaches death from an anthropological perspective, exploring its historical evolution and its influence on diverse cultures and societies. It begins by examining how anthropology has contributed to our understanding of death, from its roots in the supernatural to contemporary approaches. Three pivotal periods in anthropological death research are identified: the twentieth-century evolutionary, the heyday of symbolic anthropology, and the current interdisciplinary era. The analysis focuses on the impact of European colonization in the New World and how anthropology emerged as a tool for documenting and understanding cultural and religious changes among indigenous populations who encountered the colonizers. In addition, it explores funerary beliefs and practices in diverse cultures, from the Incas in Argentina to contemporary native cultures in the same country. It highlights rituals and conceptions of death in different religions, including Catholicism, Buddhism, Islam and others. The article underscores the importance of appreciating the cultural diversity surrounding death in a globalized world. Despite superficial differences, death remains a universal theme that raises fundamental questions about life and transcendence. Understanding how different cultures confront and give meaning to death is essential to promote cross-cultural empathy and respect in today's society.
The article is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. Unless otherwise stated, associated published material is distributed under the same licence.
The statements, opinions and data contained in the journal are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publisher and the editor(s). We stay neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.