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New Ancestral Shrines In South Korea

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Chapter Summary

Since the collapse of the cold war’s geopolitical order in the early 1990s and the related decline of communism as viable political ideologies, there have been several important changes in the political life of South Koreans. One notable change is found in the domain of ancestor worship. Many communities are now reshaping their ancestral rites into a more inclusive form, introducing demonstratively into them the memories of the dead who, previously labelled as supporters of communism, had been invisible in public memory. In places where people experienced the global cold war as a violent communal conflict, the above development involves difficult negotiations between the community’s politically bifurcated ancestral heritages. This chapter examines a set of new ancestral shrines erected as part of this communal effort to repair the broken genealogical condition, and enters into critical dialogue with an influential idea in contemporary scholarship about social development beyond the cold war.

Keywords: ancestral shrines; democratic kinship; South Korea



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