Brown University shieldBrown University

Two Mini-Symposia: The Social Lives of Dead Bodies — November 14-15, 2013

October 28, 2013
Associate Professor of History Rebecca Nedostup is organizing a two-day event dedicated to exploring how dead bodies can be social actors. See Below for details:

Part 1: How to Be a Corpse in a Chinese World

A Mini-Symposium Supported by the Framework in Global Health Program and by the Program in Science and Technology Studies
November 14, 2013, 4-6:30 PM, Wilson 102 

“Breaking Dead: Corpse Donation for Education Purposes at a Buddhist Medical School in Taiwan”
C. Julia Huang
Professor in the Department of Anthropology at National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan
Visiting Scholar at the Center for Chinese Studies, University of California, Berkeley

“Crafting Corpses: Between the Dead Body and the Body Politic”
Ruth E. Toulson
Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wyoming

Moderator: Sherine Hamdy
Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Kutayba Alghanim Professor of Social Science at Brown University
The socio-cultural anthropologists C. Julia Huang and Ruth Toulson chronicle how the boundaries between dead and living are being stretched in unexpected ways in contemporary Taiwan and Singapore. Huang explains how the successful efforts of the Buddhist Tzu Chi University to break cultural taboos on corpse donation for medical education not only plays with the supposed importance of somatic integrity, but also revises the very ways a body undergoes the ritual stages of death. Toulson describes how state-mandated cremation in Singapore has increased rather than obviated corpse embalming. The visible, tactile physical body interacts with global technologies, local practice, and emotional registers to produce something “highly unnatural” yet also resistant to state power.


Part 2: Theory and Method of the Dead

A Mini-Symposium Supported by the Framework in Global Health Program and by the Department of History Lecture Series
November 15, 2013, 3-5-2:0 PM, Wilson 101 
“Dead bodies in personal and political histories”
Stephan Feuchtwang
Professor Emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics
“Why do we care about the dead body?” 
Thomas W. Laqueur
Helen Fawcett Professor in the Department of History at University of California, Berkeley

Moderator: Harold Cook,
 Professor of History, Brown University

Thomas Laqueur is a historian of medicine and of early modern and modern Britain. He has written the influential Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud (Harvard University Press, 1990) and Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation (ZONE BOOKS, 2003), among many other publications. He is completing new book entitled The Work of the Dead, and co-teaches a seminar on “Death, Dying and Modern Medicine”.

Stephan Feuchtwang
 is the author of numerous works on Chinese religion and politics, and  on comparative civilizations. His After the Event: the Transmission of Grievous Loss in Germany, China and Taiwan (Berghahn, 2011) brings together the histories of state violence in Europe between 1933 and 1945, in China between 1959 and 1961 (the Great Leap famine) and the Taiwan during and after the civil and Cold wars.