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By Allan Kellehear

Our reports of death were formed through old rules approximately demise and social accountability on the finish of existence. From Stone Age rules approximately loss of life as otherworld trip to the modern Cosmopolitan Age of death in nursing houses, Allan Kellehear takes the reader on a 2 million 12 months trip of discovery that covers the key demanding situations we are going to all finally face: looking forward to, getting ready, taming and timing for our eventual deaths. it is a significant assessment of the human and scientific sciences literature approximately human loss of life behavior. The ancient strategy of this e-book areas our contemporary photographs of melanoma death and therapy in broader old, epidemiological and worldwide context. Professor Kellehear argues that we're witnessing an increase in shameful varieties of demise. it isn't melanoma, center illness or scientific technology that provides sleek death behavior with its maximum ethical assessments, yet quite poverty, getting older and social exclusion.

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Extra resources for A Social History of Dying

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Those who are favoured by the gods at the precipice go on to the real Elysium, which is very similar to the Western Spiritualists’ idea of the eternal Summerland – clear skies and warmth, good food and company, bliss beyond words. In this Fijian Elysium, a soul may reside for a long time or eventually return to earth as a god of some kind. Souls may also return to earth OTHERWORLD JOURNEYS: DEATH AS DYING 39 for good or bad intent. There is major disagreement about these matters. The most important observation to make about such journeys, however, is that the biological death only heralds the beginning of a new period of post-mortem life, which might result in genuine extinction.

By killing this god in a state of vigour the followers are assured of capturing his soul in good condition and transferring it to a successor. Furthermore, the safety of their world is secured by ensuring that their world does not deteriorate with any parallel deterioration of their god. This ritual killing of divine kings and god-men is not confined to aristocratic circles, however, and Frazer recounts the application of this assisted euthanasia in other common peoples. The Mangaians of the South Pacific, in the New Hebrides, the Kamants of Abyssinia, the Chiriguano Indians of South America and the Fijians are among the many who believe that souls appear in the afterlife in the exact image that they held before death.

The point is that these images of dying are in evidence when other more recent features are not. This early presence alone makes them worthy of closer scrutiny. Finally and most importantly, I am arguing that the ancient nature of ‘otherworld journeys’, when exposed to a range of developing epidemiological and demographic pressures from the Stone Age up to modern times, does suggest and promote particular culture-specific challenges to all populations experiencing those intersections. Otherworld journeys at times of short lives, violent deaths and small-scale economies generate different challenges and exert different social pressures than long life expectancies, chronic illnesses and medieval economies, for example.

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