Accepted Paper:

Death by Ford  
Andrew Dawson (University of Melbourne)

Paper short abstract:

An ethnography of retired production line workers in England's extractive industries, 'Death by Ford' considers the relationships between Capitalist production, dying and death.

Paper long abstract:

The somatic reach of Capitalist production, especially Fordism has been well appreciated, at least since 'Modern Times'. In Chaplain's dystopian movie the movements of the central character's body are the manic rhythms of mechanised production. This paper extends that reach into thinking about the dying and dead body. Working from Leder's phenomenology, and ethnography of retired production line workers in England's extractive industries I demonstrate how illness in advanced age involves both bodily alienation and experiences of a selfhood that is body partable. I then demonstrate how the solidarism engendered by the social organisation of production frames conceptualisation of a transformation of the dying subject's self from being property of that 'individual' to becoming 'collective' property of significant others. This has, I argue, implications for the pre-death experiences of the subject. Notably, in what I call 'socialist dying', it provides grounds for everyday critique of neoliberal approaches to palliative care. Likewise, it has implications for the post-death experiences of the subject. Notably, it engenders an emphasis on social rather than material sites/forms of grieving and memorialisation. Moving beyond its traditional frameworks of ethnic and religious traditions for understanding how dying and death are commonly and differently conceptualised and practiced, recent anthropological work has, albeit implicitly, paid attention to Capitalism. However studies of, famously New Communications Technologies (e.g. Boellstorff), new cadaver preservation techniques (e.g. Walter) and organ trafficking (e.g. Scheper-Hughes) focus largely on Capitalist consumption. 'Death by Ford' considers the relationships between Capitalist production, dying and death.

Panel P23
Feeling Capitalism