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'It's God's will': consolation and religious meaning-making after a family death in urban Senegal

Evans, R., Bowlby, S., Ribbens McCarthy, J., Wouango, J. and Kebe, F. (2018) 'It's God's will': consolation and religious meaning-making after a family death in urban Senegal. In: Jedan, C., Maddrell, A. and Venbrux, E. (eds.) Consolationscapes in the face of loss: grief and consolation in space and time. Routledge studies in human geography. Routledge, London. ISBN 9780815358794 (In Press)

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Abstract/Summary

Little empirical work has been conducted on geographies of loss in majority Muslim contexts to date. Based on qualitative research, this paper explores consolation and religious meaning-making after a family death in urban Senegal. We draw on in-depth interviews with a diverse sample of 59 family members in two cities, Dakar and Kaolack. Drawing on Klass' (2014) multi-faceted understanding of consolation and religious solace, we explore participants' narratives of the death of a relative, and discuss the role of co-presence and practices of remembrance in providing consolation. The frequent use of 'God's will' and other religious refrains and investing the moment of death with religious significance appeared to provide solace and help participants accept the death. The co-presence of family and community members was crucial in helping to share their pain and provide practical and material support that enabled family members to 'keep going' and 'get by' in poor urban neighbourhoods. Alongside the often welcome sense of presence of the deceased, prayers, offerings and religious ceremonies on the anniversary of the death were an important means of remembrance and the expression of continuing bonds that provided consolation. The research demonstrates the extensive, often taken-for-granted, ways that religious beliefs, the worldview and wider community shape cultural narratives of a family death and may limit the expression of grief and the extent to which negative impacts on surviving family members' lives can sometimes be acknowledged.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Human Environments
Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:77365
Uncontrolled Keywords:cross-cultural research meaning-making religious worldview Islam God's Will family death responses to death religious solace cultural diversity Africa
Publisher:Routledge

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