Glennys Howarth, Director of the Centre for Death & Society, University of Bath
From theft to donation: an exploration of the change in attitudes to the use of dead bodies for medical science
The Michaelmas Term 2008 sessions explore the relationship between two contentious and closely interleaved subjects: the shifting terrain of cultural and clinical attitudes towards death in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; and the issues raised by new cultures and technologies of human tissue transplantation and sale. Following the work of Philippe Aries, many scholars have criticised the apparent medicalisation of death in the modern West, in which death is constructed not as a physiological, social or metaphysical process but as a momentary event which can (and should) be defined and recorded for clinical, administrative and legal purposes. Similar questions about the definition of death as a social and clinical event have taken major roles in debates surrounding the transplantation and proposed sale of human organs. Early clinical concerns about how to define the proper moment of death and window of organ removal have been complicated in recent debates about the permissibility of markets in human organs. The major question has become whether death terminates what anthropologist Don Joralemon has called the 'body-as-self' relation and permits an alternative perspective of the 'body-as-property': should dying be the signal for commodification? Drawing upon recent scholarship in philosophy and anthropology, this session explores the often-contentious confrontations between competing perspectives on organs, bodies and death.
All sessions will be held in the large seminar room at CRASSH. PDFs of readings not available online will be circulated via email 1-2 weeks before each session.
Open to All. No registration required!
Part of Health & Welfare Research Group
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