Department of Sociology will host the International Death and Grief Conference
Department of Sociology will host an International Death and Grief Conference - Reckoning for the Dead and Death from 17-19th January 2024. The conference will be organized by
Are the dead alive? Is death a finitude or a metamorphosis? If death is a finitude, why are the dead often carefully processed, interred, cremated, desiccated, and memorialized? Are these merely rituals of remembrance, or are they practices that also mark a change of state not only for the living but also for the dead, where the dead metamorphose – like pupa to butterfly – take wing and fly away to another world? Is that why death is problematic because the natural course has been cut short, and the dead are not able to metamorphose and fly away? Is the grief that follows such departures merely caused by the inability to say goodbye, either due to suddenness or the absence of the living at the moment of passing, or is it because they interrupt the procedures that make possible the transmutation of the dead, who, being unable to depart, enter into intimate relationships with the living? Is such grief an intra-psychic phenomenon that requires counseling, or is it the dead conversing with the living and imploring them, through entreaty and threat, to find ways of transmuting them and thus helping them to depart? In short, this is a call to reflect, cross-culturally and historically, on whether there are good and bad deaths; how we process the dead as a material entity and why; how this processing of the dead changes with new technologies such as the crematorium; how and why we mourn and memorialize the dead, including categories of the dead like perinates that were mourned but not memorialized earlier; what are the hieroglyphics of the relationships that the dead forge with the living; and how do we reckon with the continuing absent presence of the dead? In other words, do we grieve for the dead, or do the dead, too, grieve for the living? If such grief is unnaturally long, are the living to be shrunk by the psychiatrist under the sign of “prolonged grief disorder” (APA 2022), or is it to be played out and addressed by an appropriate death rite for the dead?