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Chris K. K. TAN is an Associate Professor in the School of Social and Behavioural Sciences at Nanjing University, China. His current research focuses on how affects intersect with technology in China. He previously published in Information, Communication & Society, Journal of Consumer Culture, and Urban Studies. He is currently writing a monograph on national belonging among Singaporean gay men.

The Macabre Affective Labour of Cadavers in Chinese Ghost Marriages

Recently, Chinese newspapers have captured the attention of their readers with stories of criminals robbing graves and murdering people to sell the corpses for use in ‘ghost marriages’ (yinhun 阴婚 ). The state casts ghost marriages as ‘superstition’, but the practice remains as a way for people to attempt to sooth the angst of the spirit of the deceased and its living relatives. In fact, the lifeless corpse used in yinhun must be considered alive during the ritual for the ghost marriage to achieve its spiritual and social efficacies. As such, yinhun cadavers perform a sort of macabre affective labour.

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