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Accepted Paper:

Unruly bodies and palliative care: presencing selflessness  
Bernike Pasveer (Maastricht University )

Paper short abstract:

Institutionalized palliative care (PC) has continuously opened up its ways of providing a good death to newly presenced, unruly, body-categories. But the discrete self of the dying person has remained a cornerstone of PC. I presence selflessness as a way of (re)situating palliative and hospice care.

Paper long abstract:

Before the 1950s death and dying took place largely 'without biomedicine'. From then on, high-tech medicine annexed dying under the umbrella of heroic life-prolonging interventions, while simultaneously rendering the very process of dying largely invisible. In the 1970s, the palliative and hospice movements emerged as a critique on this model of (not) dealing with death and dying. The plea was, and still is, to install practices and an ethics that would articulate dying as a distinguished process that would require specific care.

The recent history of institutionalized palliative and hospice care shows a remarkable flexibility of continuously opening up normalized ways to die well. In de 1970's, end-of-life care for cancer patients became the main paradigm in the western world. From the late 1980s onwards other body-categories are being presenced as also in need of such care, and practices are continuously modified so as to accomodate them. These unruly bodies demonstrate the situatedness of existing arrangements: their fit to deal with specific rather than all bodies.

Ho, this flexibility seems to have been accompanied by a strong naturalization of what a 'good death' would entail: constitutive to goodness is the discrete, autonomous self of the dying person. Self-less persons (migrants, demented people) appear as tremendously troubling - unruly but apparently without being able to alter and accomodate concepts and practices.

This paper sets out to situate and thus unnaturalize this moral economy of goodness. I will presence the self-less body as unruly, and try to propose modes of re-situating.

Panel T049
STS and normativity: analyzing and enacting values
  Session 1 Friday 2 September, 2016, -