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Excesses of Death

Careful disposal and caring commemoration of the dead have long been customary and considered to be constitutive of humanity itself. But when circumstances break down or shift, and remains are uncared for or discarded as waste, what happens to the remnants of these unritualized deaths?

This two-part workshop addresses the issue of uncontained death: of deaths that don't clearly or comfortably slip into the mortuary containers of social convention. The first part focuses on contemporary Japan where, alongside socio-economic shifts, kin-based mortuary practices are on the decline leaving the management of dead remains contested, abandoned, but also open to radical re-design. The second part of the workshop opens up the issue of re/de-containing death to situations where the border between the living and the dead is socially questioned: unmarked graves of disabled, the scripted deaths-and after-deaths-of medical aid in dying, checking graves for the 'theft" of sorghum roots in Togo, and the "endless funeral" a person with Alzheimers can invoke from their carers.

In Ranji Khanna's keynote, based on an essay by Sigmund Freud, these two strands will be pivoted through the idea of mass death, and how witnessing mass death shifts the notion of singular and intimate death.

9:30 - 11:30 Panel 1 1:00 - 1:50: Keynote: Ranji Khanna
2:00 - 4:00 Panel 2 4:00 - 5:00 Reception

Hannah Gould, University of Melbourne Daisuke Uriu, Tokyo University
Paulina Kolata, Lund University
Anne Allison, Duke University
Ranji Khanna, Duke University
Mara Buchbinder, University of North Carolina James Chappel, Duke University
Adam Rosenblatt, Duke University
Charlie Piot, Duke University

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Contact: Anne Allison