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Funerals, Politics, and Memory in Modern France, 1789–1996$
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Avner Ben-Amos

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198203285

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198203285.001.0001

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The State Funeral as a Social Drama

The State Funeral as a Social Drama

(p.252) Conclusion The State Funeral as a Social Drama
Funerals, Politics, and Memory in Modern France, 1789–1996

Avner Ben-Amos

Oxford University Press

The analysis of the major state funerals by which the Third Republic honoured its distinguished citizens shows that the event of the funeral did not simply correspond to the ceremony. The actual rite of passage was the core of the event, but it did not demarcate either its beginning or its end. From a spatial point of view, the event took place not only along the procession route and in the cemetery, but also in other parts of the city, in case of a counter-demonstration, and in other parts of the country where parallel ceremonies were celebrated. The major state funeral belonged to a new type of event that began to appear in France in the last third of the nineteenth century: the media event. These were events such as the Dreyfus affair that owed part of their existence to the appearance of a mass circulating press. Yet media events, which may have appeared ‘monstrous’ and disparate, all progressed through the same stages of what Victor Turner has called a social drama.

Keywords:   France, state funerals, social drama, Dreyfus affair, Third Republic, rite of passage, ceremonies, media events

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