Death, Modernity, and the Body: Sweden 1870-1940

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University Rochester Press, 2009 - Science - 215 pages
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Originally published in Swedish in 2002, Death, Modernity, and the Body explores the impact of modernization on customs and practices of treating the dead body in Sweden in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when intense social and cultural change transformed the country from an agricultural society to a modern industrial state. The book focuses on five arenas: medical research and education, displays of the dead body for entertainment purposes, funerary preparations of the body, memorial photography, and cremation. hr n takes an original approach to the history of death in modern society by focusing on the dead body in intersecting cultural domains. Medical, scientific and technological history are thereby connected to popular culture, social and political history, as well as ethnography and anthropology. The scholarly literature on the history of death is disproportionately focused on the Anglophone world, France, and Germany; this study contributes to the scholarship by examining the case of Sweden, where modernization was exceptionally rapid and pervasive, and full of interesting particularities. Eva hr n is a Research Fellow and Assistant Professor in the Department for the History of Science and Ideas at Uppsala University, Sweden, and a Research Associate at Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
 

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Contents

On the Usefulness of the Dead
17
Death on Display
51
Preparing the Dead Body
79
Picturing the Dead
101
A farewell gathering in the village of Djura Dalecarlia ca 1900
114
Open casket farewell scene from the village of Utanmyra Dalecarlia 1908
116
A little girls casket on two sawhorses in a garden Värmland n d
118
A young boy and his sailboat Stockholm 1905
119
Death portrait in calling card format Mariefred ca 1896
122
A crematorium in crosssection 1888
126
Purifying Flames
127
Cover of the first issue of Meddelanden från Svenska Libränningsföreningen 1883
130
Crosssection of a cremation furnace 1887
141
Crosssection of a modern urn grave ca 1920
147
Abjection and Modern Rituals
150
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About the author (2009)

Eva Ahren is a research fellow and assistant professor in the Department for the History of Science and Ideas at Uppsala University and a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

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