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Accepted Paper:

Keeping Promises Alive: A Commitment to Care as Future Orientation in the Face of (Possible) Death  
Devin Flaherty (UT San Antonio)

Paper short abstract:

This paper considers the role of promises to care for intimate others in extending intersubjective ties after death. It provides a unique contribution to questions of hope, temporality, and what it might mean to live well – while one still can – after one death and in the face of another.

Paper long abstract:

This paper considers the role of promises to care for intimate others in extending intersubjective ties after death. Set on the Caribbean island of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, I focus on the case of one older woman, Ms. Donovan, who, when her grandchildren’s mother was dying, promised her that she would always take care of them.Years after this promise was made, when Ms. Donovan, afflicted with many chronic illnesses, was being told by her professional caregivers that her death was imminent. During this period, Ms. Donovan’s promise served as an intersubjective anchor, grounding her in her commitment to care — and thus, to stay alive and keep death and bay — despite her deeply unmooring embodied experiences of growing suffering and disability. I examine how this promise both served to keep her grandchildren’s mother alive—present in the intersubjective space—while also offering Ms. Donovan a way forward, a future in which she kept her promise and did not die while her grandchildren still needed care. This case provides a unique contribution to questions of hope, temporality, and what it might mean to live well – while one still can – after one death and in the face of another.

Panel P002a
Life after death: intersubjectivity, care, and hope at the end of existence I
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -