Letters to the dead: Obituaries and identity, memory and forgetting in Iceland

Arnar Arnason, S. B. Hafsteinsson, T. Grétarsdóttir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


The writing and reading of obituaries is something of a national obsession in Iceland. In recent years certain changes have become evident in the ways in which Icelandic obituaries are constructed. It is our aim here to describe obituaries in Iceland, emphasising in particular the recent changes they have undergone. We put these transformations in the context of wider changes to death and grief in Iceland and point out the prevalence and acceptance of spiritualism in the country. We conclude by evoking recent anthropological writings on memory and forgetting and speculate on the implications changes in obituary writing have for the ways in which identities are constructed in Iceland.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-287
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2003


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