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On the Contingency of Death. A Discourse-Theoretical Perspective on the Construction of Death
Vrije Universiteit Brussel.ORCID iD: ncarpent
2012 (English)In: Critical Discourse Studies, ISSN 1740-5904, E-ISSN 1740-5912, Vol. 2, no 9, 99-116 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Death is frequently seen as the ultimate manifestation of materiality. Without denying this materiality, this article will investigate the discursive character of death, and its contingent nature, through the lens of Laclau and Mouffe's (1985) discourse theory. First, the core elements of the (Western) discourse of death, such as end/cessation/termination, negativity, irreversibility, inescapability, and undesirability, in combination with life as death's constitutive outside, will be analysed, showing the specificity of this discourse of death. The contingency of death is argued further from a more genealogical stance, through the changes over time in the articulation of death and good death. Finally, the political nature of the discourse of death is illustrated by an analysis of end-of-life debates and the struggle between the hospice and the right to die social movements over the exact articulation of a good death. The article concludes by pointing to the necessary and constitutive failure of discourse to capture the materiality of death.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 2, no 9, 99-116 p.
Keyword [en]
death, discourse-theoretical analysis, discourse theory, euthanasia, media studies
National Category
Media Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-278492OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-278492DiVA: diva2:906610
Available from: 2016-02-24 Created: 2016-02-24 Last updated: 2016-02-24

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