ESRC Research Seminar: Dead Body Politics, Materialities and Mobilities

Professor Craig Young continues his ESRC Research Seminar Series on contemporary encounters with corpses.

The fourth seminar in this series, Dead Body Politics, Materialities and Mobilities, has been organised by Professor Craig Young of Human Geography at Manchester Metropolitan University and Dr Jon Shute, lecturer in the school of Law at University of Manchester.

The seminar will explore multi-disciplinary approaches to the dead body. Professor Young said: “The seminar will capture a range of responses to dead and associated material remains – by law academics, historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, geographers and artists”.

Young is interested in the intersection of place, landscape, history and memory and the politics of identity with regards to the dead body. A focus on corpses originally arose from Craig’s study of the mobilities of the dead bodies of Romanian Communist leaders and activists during state-socialism and post-socialism. He is interested in how the dead body is a subject of ‘dead body politics’ but also has agency in its own right.

Professor Young said: “This seminar in the ESRC Encountering Corpses research seminar series will focus on the politics of corpse (im-)mobilities and materialities. Dead bodies are usually thought of as ‘dead and buried’, static and immobile and removed from life, but this seminar will foreground how human remains persist and can provoke new formations of identity and politics”.

He explained: “How human remains move around (eg. are repatriated or exhumed and re-interred) and their materialities (what form they take, what remains and how it is viewed and regulated) can be central to processes of forming identity and politics. Understanding these processes can inform our understanding of genocide, the Holocaust and justice for the dead but also in seemingly more mundane spaces such as museums”.

Professor Young’s work has captured the public’s imagination, and his many public engagement events attract a high turn-out every year. Professor Young and Dr Shute’s shared aim is to make the physicality of the dead body something neither lost nor forgotten within public discourse, which focuses on the live body as a site of power and identity but largely ignores similar considerations after death.

They said: “We hope the audience will take away a renewed appreciation of the role the dead can play in the contested politics of repatriation, reconciliation, the post-colonial, museum curation and artistic representations.”

The series will continue into 2017. Details of future seminars can be found here.

Dead Body Politics, Materialities and Mobilities will take place on 18th March 2016, 1.00pm – 4.30pm at 70 Oxford Street. Tickets are free and available here: https://dead-body-politics.eventbrite.com

The seminar will be followed by a free film screening of ‘Earth Promised Sky’ (2003) at 6pm. Tickets are free and available here: https://earth-promised-sky.eventbrite.com

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