Death as resource: a story of organ donation and communication across the ‘great mist’ in Iceland

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Abstract

Long-standing arguments in the social scientific and humanities accounts of death, speak of the medicalisation of death in contemporary societies, particularly western ones. According to these arguments, modern medicine treats death as a failure to be avoided. This special issue proposes that a fundamental shift in both medical and wider societal views of death has taken place. It argues that as biomedicine inserts itself increasingly into the spaces of dying, and grieving, death is more and more seen as an opportunity, and a resource to be exploited. This paper investigates a new medical view on death emerging in relation to discourses and practices around organ donation in Iceland. It examines the links between an emerging medical and societal view of death as a resource, with earlier conceptions of grief as an opportunity for personal growth. A connection here is organ donation as a way in which people make bad deaths good.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMedicine Anthropology Theory
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2017

Fingerprint

Organ Donation
Iceland
Resources
Communication
Grief
Medicine
Grieving
Dying
Fundamental
Conception
Medicalization
Discourse
Biomedicine

Keywords

  • death
  • grief
  • Iceland
  • organ donation
  • taboo

Cite this

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title = "Death as resource: a story of organ donation and communication across the ‘great mist’ in Iceland",
abstract = "Long-standing arguments in the social scientific and humanities accounts of death, speak of the medicalisation of death in contemporary societies, particularly western ones. According to these arguments, modern medicine treats death as a failure to be avoided. This special issue proposes that a fundamental shift in both medical and wider societal views of death has taken place. It argues that as biomedicine inserts itself increasingly into the spaces of dying, and grieving, death is more and more seen as an opportunity, and a resource to be exploited. This paper investigates a new medical view on death emerging in relation to discourses and practices around organ donation in Iceland. It examines the links between an emerging medical and societal view of death as a resource, with earlier conceptions of grief as an opportunity for personal growth. A connection here is organ donation as a way in which people make bad deaths good.",
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