242 pages | 2 B/W Illus.
Throughout history mankind has struggled to reconcile itself with the inescapability of its own mortality. This book explores the themes of immortality and survivalism in contemporary culture, shedding light on the varied and ingenious ways in which humans and human societies aspire to confront and deal with death, or even seek to outlive it, as it were.
Bringing together theoretical and empirical work from internationally acclaimed scholars across a range of disciplines, Postmortal Society offers studies of the strategies adopted and means available in modern society for trying to ‘cheat’ death or prolong life, the status of the dead in the modern Western world, the effects of beliefs that address the terror of death in other areas of life, the ‘immortalisation’ of celebrities, the veneration of the dead in virtual worlds, symbolic immortality through work, the implications of understanding ‘immortality’ in chemical-neuronal terms, and the apparent paradox of our greater reverence for the dead in increasingly secular, capitalist societies.
A fascinating collection of studies that explore humanity’s attempts to deal with its own mortality in the modern age, this book will appeal to sociologists, anthropologists, philosophers and scholars of cultural studies with interests in death and dying.
Introduction: Towards a Postmortal Society - Paving the Pathway for a Sociology of Immortality
Michael Hviid Jacobsen
1. How the Dead Survive - Ancestors, Immortality, Memory
2. The Future of Death and the Four Pathways to Immortality
3. Individualised Immortality in Liquid-Modern Times - Teasing Out the Topic of Symbolic Immortality in the Sociology of Zygmunt Bauman
Michael Hviid Jacobsen
4. Terror Management Theory - Surviving the Awareness of Death One Way or Another
Uri Lifshin, Peter J. Helm and Jeff Greenberg
5. The Immortalisation of Celebrities
6. The Contemporary Imaginary of Work - Symbolic Immortality within the Postmodern Corporate Discourse
7. The Neural Identity - Strategies of Immortality in Contemporary Western Culture
8. Toward Post-Human - The Dream of Never-Ending Life
9. Digital Immortality or Digital Death? - Contemplating Digital End of Life Planning
Carla J. Sofka, Allison Gibson and Danielle R. Silberman
10. The Virtual Concept of Death
William Sims Bainbridge
11. The Proliferation of Postselves in American Civic and Popular Cultures
Michael C. Kearl
Eventually we all die - and we experience death head-on, when someone close to us dies. This series, Studies in Death, Materiality and the Origin of Time, identifies this fact as constitutive of the origin of human conceptions of time. Time permeates everything, but except for time itself all things are perishable - yet, it is only through the perishable world of things and bodies that we sense time. Bringing together scholarly work across a range of disciplines, the series explores the fact that human experiences and conceptions of time inherently hinge on the material world, and that time as a socially experienced phenomenon cannot be understood as separate from material form or expression. As such, it departs from a persistent current within Western thinking. Philosophy, biology and physics, among other disciplines, have studied time as an essential, ethereal and abstract concept. In the same way, death has often been conceived of in abstract and sometimes transcendental terms as occupying one extreme margin of human life. As an alternative, this series examines the ways in which bodily death and material decay are central points of reference in social life, which offer key insights into human perceptions of time.