Ars moriendi in aetate fori: Or, The Art of Dying in the Age of the Marketplace

Emke, Ivan (2003) Ars moriendi in aetate fori: Or, The Art of Dying in the Age of the Marketplace. In: Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association Annual Meeting, June 2003, Halifax, NS. (Unpublished)

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The medieval tradition of ars moriendi (or “the art of dying”) provided instructions regarding the appropriate preparations for the devout to follow in their final days. The directives related to the care of the soul, the completion of one's life work and the resolution of unsettled matters. The focus of the tradition was on the relationship of the individual to divine requirements for “living the good death.” However, in our modern secular age, our identities (and some say even our purpose) are forged through consumption activities. There is still a need to remember our dead, to ensure that their lives are not forgotten, but this is now done through the purchase of commodities rather than through the imposition of self-discipline, the saying of prayers and the recitation of litanies. Furthermore, the growth of the Funeral Services Industry has augmented this shift toward modes of memorialization which are channeled through the cash nexus. This paper asks, “what would an appropriate "ars moriendi‟ look like for us today?” It would be affected by factors such as secularization, declining social bonds, increasing mobility, the primacy of the marketplace in the construction of identity, altered death trajectories (a shift from mortality due to infectious disease to mortality from chronic disease), and the rise of an industry which focuses on finding ways to commodify emotions and remembering.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Item ID: 92
Keywords: dying, tradition, memorialization
Department(s): Grenfell Campus > School of Arts and Social Science > Sociology
Date: June 2003
Date Type: Completion

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