CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

In July 2015, the mother of a young man who died in Russia was waiting at Tbilisi airport for his body to arrive. There was no corpse on the plane. The shipping company had accidentally sent the body to South Korea treating it as cargo. It took some time to find and bury the deceased. Later, when the case was presented to the court, heavy damages were imposed on the company because the shipping company had “violated the deceased’s mother’s dignity and she had suffered emotional pain” (Chitashvili, 2017: 198). Her son being handled as cargo was a painful experience for her. The funeral was postponed. The Chamber also noted that proper mourning of the deceased and bidding farewell on the last journey is a well-established tradition in Georgian society. According to the Chamber, “the plaintiff’s right to free development includes the right to mourn and say goodbye to her deceased son in accordance with existing Georgian traditions’” (Chitashvili, 2017: 199). The idea of a “proper funeral” is linked to the dignity of the deceased and to the dignity of the mourner, which, in the context of Georgian Christian practices, is often connected to the possibility of mourning the deceased at home, near the body, in a familiar environment although exceptionally arranged for the rituals, in the company of relatives and neighbours. During conversations with Georgian migrants living in different countries like Germany, USA or Russia, we noted that the migratory context generates three major death-related grievances…


‪Based on an ethnographic fieldwork among Georgian migrants in Russia, the paper focuses on the management of deceased bodies abroad during the pandemic of COVID-19. ‪‪More precisely, the paper identifies three levels of liminality, which contribute to the “making of death” in this context: that of death, that of migration, and that of the pandemic. The paper looks at the material and emotional expectations and constraints that surround the repatriation of corpses, including the technological solutions, and what these rituals do for the migrants. We see that during repatriation the bodies go through the process material, linguistic and affective re-appropriation, which enables mourners to transition out of liminality. The paper also shows how death reactivates reciprocal networks and obligations in the homeland that might be disrupted by migration. Death rituals and their technological adaptations enable both the mitigation of some of the liminalities and the revitalisation of local networks.‪

  • migration
  • death
  • networks
  • liminality
  • materiality
  • Georgia
  • Russia
Ketevan Gurchiani
Professor in anthropology, Ilia State University, Kakutsa Cholokashvili Ave 3/5, Tbilisi 0162, Georgia;;
Mariam Darchiashvili
Assistant Professor in Anthropology, Ilia State University, Kakutsa Cholokashvili Ave 3/5, Tbilisi 0162, Georgia;;
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
You still have to read 97% of this article
Purchase full-text 4,50€ 25 pages, electronic only
(html and pdf)
add_shopping_cart Add to cart
Other option
Member of a subscribed institution ? business Authenticate
Uploaded on on 30/11/-0001
Distribution électronique pour Université de Poitiers © Université de Poitiers. Tous droits réservés pour tous pays. Il est interdit, sauf accord préalable et écrit de l’éditeur, de reproduire (notamment par photocopie) partiellement ou totalement le présent article, de le stocker dans une banque de données ou de le communiquer au public sous quelque forme et de quelque manière que ce soit.
Loading... Please wait