The Body in Grief: Death Investigations, Objections to Autopsy, and the Religious and Cultural ‘Other’

Article


Carpenter, Belinda, Tait, Gordon and Quadrelli, Carol A.. 2014. "The Body in Grief: Death Investigations, Objections to Autopsy, and the Religious and Cultural ‘Other’." Religions. 5 (1), pp. 165-178. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel5010165
Article Title

The Body in Grief: Death Investigations, Objections to Autopsy, and the Religious and Cultural ‘Other’

ERA Journal ID211287
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsCarpenter, Belinda (Author), Tait, Gordon (Author) and Quadrelli, Carol A. (Author)
Journal TitleReligions
Journal Citation5 (1), pp. 165-178
Number of Pages14
Year2014
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
ISSN2077-1444
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3390/rel5010165
Web Address (URL)https://www.mdpi.com/2077-1444/5/1/165
Abstract

Sudden, violent and otherwise unexplained deaths are investigated in most western jurisdictions through a Coronial or medico-legal process. A crucial element of such an investigation is the legislative requirement to remove the body for autopsy and other medical interventions, processes which can disrupt traditional religious and cultural grieving practices. While recent legislative changes in an increasing number of jurisdictions allow families to raise objections based on religious and cultural grounds, such concerns can be over-ruled, often exacerbating the trauma and grief of families. Based on funded research which interviews a range of Coronial staff in one Australian jurisdiction, this paper explores the disjuncture between medico-legal discourses, which position the body as corpse, and the rise of more ‘therapeutic’ discourses which recognise the family’s wishes to reposition the body as beloved and lamented.

KeywordsAustralia, Indigenous, autopsy, body, coroner, culture, death, grief, religion, sacred
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020441011. Sociology of health
480404. Law and religion
Byline AffiliationsQueensland University of Technology
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Funding source
Australian Research Council (ARC)
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