18th Jan 2017 1:00pm-3:00pm

Grand Parade, B56

Research Workshop with Visiting Research Fellow Charlottte Heath-Kelly

In this workshop we will discuss the significance of death to human culture, especially relating to the production of cultural memory. As Zygmunt Bauman (among others) argues, it is our mortality which drives the human quest to simulate immortality through language, culture and memory. Our impermanence painfully disturbs our Cartesian notions of superiority and rationality. We are haunted by the spectre of our demise and construct ever more elaborate political strategies to efface the horror of death. In this workshop we will connect the salience of mortality to the trauma (deliberately) produced by terrorist attacks – using Jenny Edkins’ work to explore the weaponisation of mortality itself against the Western, liberal subject. The spectacular undoing of the sovereign subject through destruction on 9/11 was, for her, a deliberate deconstruction of humanist, modern discourses about the subject. Then, to repair this traumatic void in the urban and psychic fabric of American society, memorials were rapidly held and built to efface the spectre of mortality. In this cultural narrativisation, each victim was reclaimed from the anonymity of death and re-associated with a name and individuality. The workshop then considers Philippe Aries’ sociology of death in Western cultures, to explore the historical connection between modernity and individuality and the salience of death as a terrible spectre. The terror of mortality depends first upon the prior discourse of a modern individual: the sting of death comes from is usurpation of the individual’s status as sovereign, distinct being.

All are welcome to attend the discussion! And all are asked to come prepared to think about how mortality, or the construct of the sovereign individual, figures within their own research.

To register for the Workshop, please email memorynarrativehistories@brighton.ac.uk with your name, contact details and reason for wishing to register. Places are limited and swift registration is urged.