Read e-book online A Social History of Dying PDF

By Allan Kellehear

ISBN-10: 0521694299

ISBN-13: 9780521694292

Our studies of loss of life were formed by way of old principles approximately dying and social accountability on the finish of lifestyles. From Stone Age rules approximately demise as otherworld trip to the modern Cosmopolitan Age of demise in nursing houses, Allan Kellehear takes the reader on a 2 million yr trip of discovery that covers the main demanding situations we are going to all finally face: looking ahead to, getting ready, taming and timing for our eventual deaths. it is a significant overview of the human and scientific sciences literature approximately human demise behavior. The historic strategy of this e-book locations our fresh photographs of melanoma loss of life and treatment in broader historic, epidemiological and international context. Professor Kellehear argues that we're witnessing an increase in shameful different types of death. it isn't melanoma, middle sickness or clinical technological know-how that provides smooth death behavior with its maximum ethical checks, yet relatively poverty, getting older and social exclusion.

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Frazer in his landmark three-volume work The Belief in Immortality and the Worship of the Dead (1913a,b,c) argues that it is probably the oldest belief of humanity. Clottes & Lewis-Williams (1998: 12) argue that even the idea of journeying into ‘unearthly’ realms is central to shamanism – those who induce, control and exploit altered states of consciousness. Taking a neuropsychological approach to these altered states, Clottes & Lewis-Williams argue that shamanism – and hence otherworldly journeys – were recognised and depicted as early as the Upper Palaeolithic (or early Stone Age).

Otherworld journeys at times of short lives, violent deaths and small-scale economies generate different challenges and exert different social pressures than long life expectancies, chronic illnesses and medieval economies, for example. And although there may be great variation in the content, colour and even sophistication of these responses we can characterise those responses in a structural if not uniform way. I do not challenge region-specific responses. I do not argue that the challenges I identify are the only ones identifiable, but I do argue that at least these have prompted other subsequent ones that currently influence us.

But the foetal positioning of bodies does seem deliberate and might reasonably indicate ideas about rebirth or sleep. Is it so unreasonable to believe that gifts might have been part of a religious or merely sentimental gift to the dead, especially if the dead were seen as ‘dying’ to them but being born to another world beyond the senses? Certainly later and among Homo sapiens burial sites, the evidence of grave goods grows impressively. And if sapiens grave goods are consistent with beliefs about an afterlife then why is it so unreasonable to suppose that Neanderthals – as a coexistent species – might have shared this, in their own way?

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A Social History of Dying by Allan Kellehear


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