Death Consumption Through Liminality, Subversion and Symbolic Exchange: Postmodern Paradoxes of the ‘Hungry Ghost’ Festivals in Thailand and Singapore

Much research on consumption and identity focuses on the social reality of the living. A corollary of this emphasis on ‘live’ subjects is that that the dead are assumed to be ‘non-consumers’, that is, they cease to consume goods, services and experiences after the death event. As a result, there is a lack of understanding into how exchange and consumption take place between the living and the dead, based upon beliefs about the ghostly identities, desires and social potency of the latter. Drawing upon cultural semiotics, we explore the ‘Hungry Ghost’ death consumption festivals in Thailand and Singapore. The analysis yields insights into the workings of symbolic consumer culture, the transformation of objects through simulations of consumption and the tensions between the desires of the living and those presumed to have come back from the dead.



Citation:

Amy Rungpaka Tiwsakul and Ming Lim (2011) ,"Death Consumption Through Liminality, Subversion and Symbolic Exchange: Postmodern Paradoxes of the ‘Hungry Ghost’ Festivals in Thailand and Singapore", in AP - Asia-Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 9, eds. Zhihong Yi, Jing Jian Xiao, and June Cotte and Linda Price, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: .

Authors

Amy Rungpaka Tiwsakul
Ming Lim



Volume

AP - Asia-Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 9 | 2011



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