By Elizabeth Hallam
Past the physique offers a brand new and complex method of demise, death and bereavement, and the sociology of the physique. The authors problem present theories that positioned the physique on the centre of identification. They move 'beyond the physique' to focus on the patience of self-identity even if the physique itself has been disposed of or is lacking. Chapters draw jointly quite a lot of empirical facts, together with cross-cultural case reviews and fieldwork to ascertain either the administration of the corpse and the development of the 'soul' or 'spirit' via concentrating on the paintings of: *undertakers *embalmers *coroners *clergy *clairvoyants *exorcists *bereavement counsellors.
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Additional info for Beyond the Body: Death and Social Identity
The curators claimed that the exhibition was ‘educational’ and ‘aesthetic’ and strong public interest was demonstrated by 125,000 visitors in five weeks. ). At the heart of such debates lie questions regarding the fate of the corpse and the limits of public display. Exhibitions of this kind highlight uncertainties about the relationship between body and self and the extent to which any body can be viewed as an object. Although the exhibition made direct and powerful claims to display the real or ‘natural’ body, in fact it provides us with another example of how cultural processes come into play.
Viewing bodies: contemporary issues Townsend observes that the ‘radical change of the twentieth century has been the effacement of death from public and wider familial experience. Death’s representation, except through fantasized, cinematic violence, has largely disappeared from Western culture’ (1998:131). He accounts for this change largely in terms of the emergence of a perceived dichotomy between life and death, a separation which defines death as ‘other’ and marks a divergence from early modern conceptions of life and death as a continuous process.
Concepts of ‘social interaction’ and ‘social death’ are therefore interrogated in order to account for the embodied experience of dying. Reading the ‘finished’ body In Chapter 1 we discussed Shilling’s view of the body as ‘an entity which is in the process of becoming’ (1993), that is as an unfinished product which is socially, as well as biologically, constituted. Further, if we follow Giddens (1991), we can recognise a distinctively Western ‘finishing’ of the body, the outcome of a reflexive process whereby the body is made to contribute to a consciously chosen social identity.
Beyond the Body: Death and Social Identity by Elizabeth Hallam