Technologies of the human corpse (Book, 2020) [WorldCat.org]
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Technologies of the human corpse

Author: John Troyer
Publisher: Cambridge, Massachusetts : The MIT Press, [2020]
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
"How human technological interventions into death and the dead body since the nineteenth century have had a profound impact on today's (and future) end-of-life and human mortality realities. As Director of the Centre for Death and Society, the world's only interdisciplinary studies centre dedicated to researching death, dying, and the dead body, and the son of an American Funeral Director who grew up in the funeral
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Details

Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: John Troyer
ISBN: 9780262043816 0262043815
OCLC Number: 1108306650
Description: xliii, 222 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Contents: Preface: watching my sister die --
Introduction: the human corpse: city of lakes/city of death --
Embalmed Vision: #21. Julie Post --
The Happy Death Movement: fly faster --
The HIV/AIDS Corpse: #19. Julie's funeral --
Plastinating Taxonomies: 10 minutes/10 days --
The Global Trade in Death, Dying and Human Body Parts: Gate 11 --
Bioopolitics, Thanatopolitics, and Necropolitics: Airports --
Patenting Death: today is my birthday --
Coda: Planning for Death: the last page.
Responsibility: John Troyer.

Abstract:

"How human technological interventions into death and the dead body since the nineteenth century have had a profound impact on today's (and future) end-of-life and human mortality realities. As Director of the Centre for Death and Society, the world's only interdisciplinary studies centre dedicated to researching death, dying, and the dead body, and the son of an American Funeral Director who grew up in the funeral industry, I am uniquely positioned to author a new book on the human corpse and technology. Death and the dead body are both extremely popular topics, and the books being currently published are tapping into that popular appeal. Most of these books, however, cover topics that remain perennially discussed. Indeed, it is striking how so many of the current books on death and dying reflect the same issues raised during the 1970's, a decade during which Publisher's Weekly enthusiastically told its readers "Death is now selling books!" A quick snapshot of some current(ish) death, dying, and dead body books includes, but is certainly not limited to: Mary Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, which was published in 2003 but remains widely read thirteen-years later; more recent books, such as Atul Gawande's Being Mortal, Caitlin Doughty's Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, and Brandy Schillace's Death's Summer Coat have all tapped into this popular genre. Books by academic authors such as Margaret Schwartz's Dead Matter and Thomas Laqueur's The Work of the Dead present historical and cultural contexts that are equally important. My listing of texts could exceed several pages but what is important about most contemporary death books is that the texts rarely give the history of publishing books on death much analysis. If any death-topic authors' names appear they are usually Jessica Mitford, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, and Ernest Becker. Sigmund Freud sometimes appears (in connection to Becker) but on the whole these specific authors represent a fraction of the 'death canon.' What I am writing improves on these texts by presenting readers with a more complex and interesting history than most books on death, dying, and the dead body currently pursue. In a nutshell I present a longer view on how human technological interventions into death and the dead body since the nineteenth century have had a profound impact on today's (and future) end-of-life and human mortality realities. It is too easy to sum up most current books on death, dying, and the dead body by simply saying, "We've been here before" - but it's also accurate. What my book presents are new and important ways to critically understand both the distant and recent past of human death, e.g., nineteenth century postmortem photography's crucial relationship to twentieth century life extension technology. Ironically, these nineteenth century historical records are often archived and accessible (and very well presented in MIT Press's Secure the Shadow by Jay Ruby), whereas web based material from twenty, even ten-years-ago often disappears before it can be analyzed and discussed. The key point for any book being written about death and dying today is that it really needs to understand and articulate how popular interest in death didn't emerge from nowhere. The current popularity of death, dying, and the dead body is the result of many individuals working in many different fields over the last two centuries as both academics and practitioners. More than anything the collective twenty-first century discourse on death needs to have its dominant narratives challenged and pushed in new directions. This book takes on that challenge and re-defines death, dying, and the dead body for readers by opening up human mortality's complicated and often vexing history"--

"Death and the dead body have never been more alive in the public imagination--not least because of current debates over modern medical technology that is deployed, it seems, expressly to keep human bodies from dying, blurring the boundary between alive and dead. In this book, John Troyer examines the relationship of the dead body with technology, both material and conceptual: the physical machines, political concepts, and sovereign institutions that humans use to classify, organize, repurpose, and transform the human corpse. Doing so, he asks readers to think about death, dying, and dead bodies in radically different ways. Troyer explains, for example, how technologies of the nineteenth century including embalming and photography, created our image of a dead body as quasi-atemporal, existing outside biological limits formerly enforced by decomposition. He describes the "Happy Death Movement" of the 1970s; the politics of HIV/AIDS corpse and the productive potential of the dead body; the provocations of the Body Worlds exhibits and their use of preserved dead bodies; the black market in human body parts; and the transformation of historic technologies of the human corpse into "death prevention technologies." The consequences of total control over death and the dead body, Troyer argues, are not liberation but the abandonment of Homo sapiens as a concept and a species. In this unique work, Troyer forces us to consider the increasing overlap between politics, dying, and the dead body in both general and specifically personal terms." --

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