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The Death of Maternity?

Simone de Beauvoir's A Very Easy Death

Christie McDonald

Contrasting the view of motherhood in Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex with the description of her mother's illness and death in A Very Easy Death, this essay examines the revelation of feelings previously unexplored in the relationship to her mother. Faced with a life-shattering experience, Beauvoir revisits issues not only about motherhood and maternity from her philosophical and sociological study, but her own feelings about her mother and disturbing ways in which doctors and families withheld knowledge from the dying in the mid-twentieth century.

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Mourning Palestine

Death and Grief Rituals

Aref Abu-Rabia and Nibal Khalil

This article presents various mourning rituals and death rites as they are practised in Palestine. It focuses on differences in the mourning experience among fellahin and Bedouin Arabs but also shows certain parallels in their mourning and grieving customs. The article provides information on the prescribed set of rituals that Palestinians perform, beginning with how the body is treated and the way that it is prepared for burial. Combinations of mourning practices, which vary from rending one's garments to throwing earth on one's head, provide socially sanctioned expressions of grief and sorrow. Mourning practices differ between women and men: the former lament loudly and scratch their faces, while among the latter tears are neither encouraged nor welcomed. Parallels can be seen in these rituals with mourning for Palestine.

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Body Shock

The Political Aesthetics of Death

Uli Linke

In a global media market, images of war and victimhood are trafficked as master tropes of trauma situations with immense emotional appeal. Concurrent with this transformation of historical atrocities into consumable commodities, new forms of spectatorship—focused on bodies, medicine, and death—are being produced by the entertainment industry. The article examines this fascination with corpses by focusing on Body Worlds, a traveling anatomical exhibit that was initially launched in Germany. I interrogate the means by which dissected corpses are presented as popular entertainment in a post-Holocaust society and seek to explain the installation's global appeal. My research reveals that the collusion between the state and private enterprise not only endorses the global traffic in corpses but also enables the public spectacle of anatomical human bodies by negating subjectivity, violence, and history.

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Lost Boys

An Estimate of U.S. Circumcision-Related Infant Deaths

Dan Bollinger

Baby boys can and do succumb as a result of having their foreskin removed. Circumcision-related mortality rates are not known with certainty; this study estimates the scale of this problem. This study finds that approximately 117 neonatal circumcision-related deaths (9.01/100,000) occur annually in the United States, about 1.3% of male neonatal deaths from all causes. Because infant circumcision is elective, all of these deaths are avoidable. This study also identifies reasons why accurate data on these deaths are not available, some of the obstacles to preventing these deaths, and some solutions to overcome them.

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Sex and Death in Quebec

Female AutobioBD and Julie Doucet's Changements d'adresses

Catriona MacLeod

In comparison to the U.S. market, the trend for autobiographical sequential art arrived late within the history of the francophone bande dessinée. Its rising popularity throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium coincided, and to an extent connected, with another belated development in the French-language industry however: that of the growing presence of the female artist. This article considers the strong presence of life narratives in bandes dessinées created by women, before presenting a case-study examining the manipulation of the medium to an autobiographical end in Québécoise artist Julie Doucet's 1998 Changements d'adresses ['Changes of Addresses']. It considers how, in this coming-of-age narrative set first in Montreal and then New York, Doucet utilises the formal specificity of the bande dessinée to emphasise both the fragmentation and then reintegration of her hybrid enunciating instances. It further examines Doucet's usage of the life-narrative bande dessinée to oppose her representation from that of the disruptive male figures in her life, whose sexual presence in her personal evolution is often connected to images of dysfunction and death, finally suggesting via this examination of Julie Doucet and Changements d'adresses the particular suitability of female-created life narratives to feminist reappropriations of the francophone bande dessinée.

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Humanity’s Subtensions

Culture Theory in US Death Penalty Mitigation

Jesse Cheng

Criminal law in the United States values conceptual definitiveness in its quest for resolution. But the work of open-ended humanization required of sentencing mitigation advocates in American death penalty cases defies this call for definitiveness. Even as formal legal processes seek to limit the knowledge that can be brought into the courtroom, new theoretical approaches that justify more understanding and fact-finding can help attain tangible goals of defense advocacy. This article provides an ethnographic account of how capital defense practitioners in the United States engage with anthropological theories of culture as a behind-the-scenes advocacy strategy that succeeds by exploiting the anti-definitiveness inherent in culture. I develop the concept of ‘subtension’ as an analytical trope to help elucidate these processes.

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Mirko M. Hall

The musical aesthetics of neofolk has held a significant place within Germany’s dark alternative scene since the early 1980s. With its keen interest in paganism, dark romanticism, and völkisch mysticism, this genre is often associated with right-wing ideologies. Neofolk has been accused by some of creating acceptable social spaces for fascist cultural ideals, and by others for harnessing contradictory right-wing messages as new modes of aesthetic creativity and provocation. This article explores the continued popularity of the English band, Death in June, in Germany and seeks to problematize critics’ attempts to unequivocally characterize the band and genre as nostalgia- laden hipster fascism.

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Michele Salvati

The first part of this chapter deals with the context within which the

death and transfiguration of the Ulivo has taken place. It examines both

the social framework as well as policies in the various areas (international,

institutional, and socio-economic) in which the contest between

government and opposition unfolded. This first section, “The Berlusconi

Government: Friend or Foe?” illustrates the two sides of a dilemma

upon which the Italian left oscillates. We will use three policy areas—

institutions, war and peace, and socio-economic policy—to illustrate

how this fluctuation plays out. The second section, “The Ulivo in 2003,”

is divided into two parts. In the first (“Death of the Ulivo: Artemide and

Sergio Cofferati”), we will describe events that took place leading up to

the summer of 2003, when Romano Prodi presented his proposal for a

unified left and its acceptance by the Margherita, the DS, and the SDI.

The second part of this section (“The Single List and the Reformist

Party”) examines the initial developments in Prodi’s challenge and

assesses whether these will give rise to an effective “transfiguration.”

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Grave Matters and the Good Life

On a Finite Economy in Bosnia

Larisa Jasarevic

This article outlines how the good life and a decent death in contemporary Bosnia are underwritten and undermined by informal forms of debt. Such debts finance pursuit of a pleasurable life in a post-conflict, post-socialist economy but inspire daily anxieties, not least about dying indebted. The article runs through household budgeting, everyday splurges, bodily discomforts, ordinary death and a funeral marketplace, suggesting a 'finite economy' of vernacular practice incited and limited by an habitual fixation on existential finitude.

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Sebald's Ghosts

Traveling among the Dead in The Rings of Saturn

Simon Cooke

W.G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn ([1998] 2002), originally published in German in 1995 as Die Ringe des Saturn: eine englische Wallfahrt [An English Pilgrimage], recounts a walking tour of the English county of Suffolk. As the narrative weaves through an array of histories, memories, dreams, and textual and visual forms, it creates an East Anglian arena for a world tour of death, destruction, and atrocity: the traveler attempts to unearth skulls, examines paintings of autopsies, spends time in graveyards, incorporates photographs of Nazi death camps, and patterns it into a work of sublime elegy. Is Sebald, then, the ultimate "dark tourist"? Or, as this article proposes, is it through an insistence on the omnipresence of death and the interconnections between different sites of trauma and the everyday that Sebald's work, while in one sense embodying a thanatological impulse, also powerfully resists the commodification of the thanatouristic attraction?