A Social History of Dying by Allan Kellehear

By Allan Kellehear

Our reports of demise were formed by means of historical rules approximately loss of life and social accountability on the finish of lifestyles. From Stone Age principles approximately loss of life as otherworld trip to the modern Cosmopolitan Age of loss of life in nursing houses, Allan Kellehear takes the reader on a 2 million 12 months trip of discovery that covers the foremost demanding situations we'll all ultimately face: expecting, getting ready, taming and timing for our eventual deaths. it is a significant evaluate of the human and medical sciences literature approximately human death behavior. The ancient strategy of this booklet locations our contemporary pictures of melanoma death and remedy in broader old, epidemiological and international context. Professor Kellehear argues that we're witnessing an increase in shameful varieties of loss of life. it isn't melanoma, center illness or clinical technological know-how that offers smooth demise behavior with its maximum ethical assessments, yet relatively poverty, getting older and social exclusion.

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A Social History of Dying

Our stories of demise were formed through historic principles approximately demise and social accountability on the finish of existence. From Stone Age rules approximately loss of life 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'll all finally face: looking forward to, getting ready, taming and timing for our eventual deaths.

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If Lucas is right, a lot of ‘dying’ occurs in this period of human history as a process that follows death rather than preceding it. Most of the rites (but perhaps not all of them) pertaining to funerals were probably about loss and transformation of identity and tombs were probably processing facilities for this rite of passage. In this context then, only some of what we are accustomed to view as mortuary rites actually are, while many of these THE DAWN OF MORTAL AWARENESS 25 rites, especially the early parts of them, may in fact be community rites that support the ‘dying person’ during their dying as otherworld journey.

24 THE STONE AGE Lewis-Williams (1998) has often raised the possibility that at least some of the art depicts dead people or the spirits of the dead. Sometimes these might be ancestors, sometimes dead shamans, or sometimes the spirits of ordinary people. And both Lewis-Williams (2003) and Bahn (1997: 35–7) raise the possibility that the pictures might not be for public viewing. Some of the pictures are in such inaccessible areas of deep caves that it might be the task of placing them there that has religious or supernatural significance.

Boat graves in Scandinavia are at least 2000 years old (Muller-Wille 1995) and the evidence for seafaring dates to at least 60 000 years ago (Adams 2001). At least 6000 years ago dogs were also buried, sometimes as part of the grave goods of humans. These were common mortuary practices in Europe, North America and Asia (Larsson 1994). At 10 000 years ago we have good evidence of elaborate food and decorations inside graves, of the dead being dressed in elaborate ways, of differential burials based on status, or even possibly the elicited grief (see Cullen 1995; Cauwe 2001; McDonald 2001).

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