We rise out of the cradle into the grave: An ethnographic exploration of ritual, mourning, and death on a hutterite colony

Joanne Cacciatore, Kara Thieleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


The Hutterites are a closed ethnoreligious community whose funeral traditions have remained unchanged for centuries. Few researchers have had the opportunity to study this unique group. This study is an ethnographic exploration into the experience of child death and ritual on a Hutterite colony utilizing participant-observation and interviewing. Three recurrent themes emerged: ritual/tradition, spirituality/faith, and social cohesion and integration/group identity. Observed rituals are situated within the broader framework. While some aspects of the response to death may resemble those of mainstream culture, a deeper evaluation of descriptive and structural specifics reveals some important differences. Most of the cultural contrast is contained in concrete social enactment of death rituals, shared identity, and the immutable faith in God at the center of the Hutterite mourning process. These factors may help account for the low rates of mental disorders seen among Hutterites, even following traumatic events, and would be worthy of further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-379
Number of pages23
JournalOmega (United States)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

Cite this