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Inaugural lecture at Manchester Metropolitan University on ‘Making a Place for the Dead: Developing Inter-Disciplinary Perspectives on Contemporary Encounters’ as part of Humanities in Public on Monday 28th September 2015:
This lecture explored a variety of contemporary encounters with corpses to reflect on how we might ‘make a place’ for them in contemporary social sciences and humanities. While there is an increase in interest in death, dying and disposal outside of the field of Death Studies, much of that work is fragmented and tends to theorise the dead as ‘absent’ or as an ‘absent-presence’. In the lecture I argued that the challenge for developing multi-disciplinary perspectives on the dead body is to engage with the increasing presence of them in contemporary society. The social sciences and humanities have had much to say about ‘the body’ – as a site of power, identity and embodied practice – but have had relatively little to say about bodies when they are no longer living. Thus the focus needs to be shifted to notions of ‘presence’ and the social, cultural and political aspects of encounter. The lecture thus explored a range of such contemporary encounters in different contexts, exploring themes of materialities, mobilities, ethics and politics and how these encounters are increasingly mediated and shaped and enabled by technologies.
Read news stories from around the web related to how we deal with the dead body in contemporary society on our ScoopIt page.