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Döden, kroppen och moderniteten
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Health and Society. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2002 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Death, Modernity and the Body : The cultural history of death and the modernisation of Sweden 1870-1940 (English)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation deals with attitudes towards death and the dead body in Sweden during the late 19th and the early 20th centuries. This was a period of intense social and cultural change, during which Sweden was transformed from an agricultural society to a modem industrial state. The process of modernisation included changes in the practices of handling dead human bodies. The purpose of this dissertation is to shed light upon the impact of modernity on the cultural customs and practices surrounding the dead body. The questions focus upon the cultural roles of the dead body: the meanings that have been attributed to it in different social contexts; the cultural configurations of varying attitudes; and the implications of these attitudes on courses of action and social organisation.

The book contains five empirical chapters, each one centred on a specific cultural phenomenon. Cbapter 11, "The Use of the Dead to the Living" is a study of the use of dead bodies in anatomical and pathological science and education. This was a controversial practice, evoking protests from the public and giving the legislator the difficult task of adapting both to the doctors and the public. Chapter III, "Death on Display", considers medical science as a visual culture and puts it in relation to the commercial display of dead bodies in popular wax museums - a series of representing and ordering practices connect the two cultural spheres, which are regarded as parts of the same spectacular visual culture. Chapter IV, "Preparing the Dead Body", shows how the customs of washing and clothing the deceased changed from being the work of women into a task for specialisedprofessionals - the undertakers. Chapter V, "Pictures of Death", is a study of postmortem photography, a genre of pictures which was frequent in the family albums during the decades around 1900, but which did not survive in the visual culture of the 20th century. Finally, chapter VI, "Purifying Flames", deals with the introduction and establishment of cremation in Sweden. The new, hygienic technique of disposal is considered as congenial with modem attitudes towards thedead body - a frightening, ambiguous object, at the same time refuse matter and the remains of an individual that should be handled with reverence and respect.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Carlsson Bokförlag, 2002. , 314 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 249
Keyword [en]
death, the body, modernity, modernisation, Sweden, cultural history, 1870-1940, anatomy, pathology, corpse, dissection, specimen, spectacle, wax effigies, cerements, undertakers, post-mortem photography, cremation
Keyword [sv]
döden, attityder, begravningsseder, medicin, historia, Sverige, 1870-1940
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-35032Local ID: 24707ISBN: 91-7203-446-7OAI: diva2:255880
Public defence
2002-05-17, Hörsal Planck, Fysikhuset, Universitetsområdet Valla, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2009-10-10 Created: 2009-10-10 Last updated: 2014-08-29Bibliographically approved

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Åhren Snickare, Eva
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Health and SocietyFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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