To treat dead bodies as living human beings: on the mysteries of immortality
Arnar Árnason (University of Aberdeen)
Paper short abstract:
This paper considers complementary yet conflicting changes in the treatment of dead bodies in Iceland. Drawing on Laurent Berlant's work it will be argued that these changes should be understood in the context of efforts locally to secure the immortality of the 'nation'.
Paper long abstract:
This paper considers recent changes in the treatment of dead bodies in Iceland. Within these changes two complimentary trends, which nonetheless are in tension with each other, will be identified. On one hand dead bodies are enlisted in efforts to understand processes of illness and dying. Here the need to dissect - literally and metaphorically - is paramount. On the other hand dead bodies are mobilised in efforts to encourage the successful grieving of bereaved relatives. Here the need to keep the body in tact is paramount. In analysing these changes brief references will be made to Foucault's notion of biopolitics. However, further inspiration will be drawn from the work of Lauren Berlant and it argued that changes in the treatment of dead bodies in Iceland, need to be placed in the context of ongoing efforts locally to secure the immortality of the 'nation'.
New immortalities: anthropological reflections on the procurement, transformation and use of human cadaveric tissue