Disjunctions of deathscapes: ways of suffering, dying, and death
Douglas Farrer (University of Guam)
John Moss (University of Guam)
Life and Death
Roscoe 2.2
Tuesday 6 August, 9:00-10:00, 11:00-12:00, 14:00-15:00 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

Disjunctions of deathscapes regards what people expect about death and dying as compared to what actually occurs—before, during and after death. A transnational social abrogation of agency through death in care confronts social policy and raises questions of social responsibility, ethics and justice

Long abstract:

The last two decades witnessed a massive expansion of the death literature, yet the importance of death in social theory was eclipsed by the elucidation of cultural difference. The notion "disjunctions of deathscapes" unites phenomenology with practice, to ask what do people expect about death, as compared to what actually occurs—before, during and after death. "Deathscapes" itself is defined in material terms to reference the paraphernalia of death: graveyards, ossuaries, tombstones, and crematoriums, and now includes death websites. More broadly, "deathscapes" may be defined as a cognitive frame, mentality, or ideology, regarded through agency, practice, religion, rituals and rites de passage. Where in the past people may expect to die at home in the care of their families, nowadays we anticipate death in care homes under the custody of strangers employed by private organizations or the state. This dramatic cross-cultural and historic alteration in the ways of death is global. Papers may explore suicide, euthanasia, mega-death, cancer, murder, burial, rejuvenation, the funeral business, bereavement, grief, loss, supplication, and the aesthetics of death. The purpose of the panel is to engage the various transnational ways, places, and sites in which death currently occurs, and to harness the insights gleaned to a critique of contemporary social policy, theory and practice. At the outset, we must ask: of what is the social body capable to offset suffering in the termination of life? What special problems does death in the transnational world raise, where different nations mandate different rules, customs and practices?