ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

37 – Violent births and deaths: coping with challenging life experiences in South Asia

The panel aims to approach beginning and end of life experiences, when they are characterized by violence. We are interested in how families and professionals, such as​​ ritual and medical specialists, cope with and represent such experiences in South Asia.

Convenors

Serena Bindi - Paris Cité University
Lucia Gentile - Trieste University

Long Abstract

The panel aims to approach beginning and end of life experiences, when they are characterized by violence. We are interested in how families and professionals, such as​​ ritual and medical specialists, cope with and represent such experiences in South Asia.

The high biomedicalisation and institutionalisation of births have led to an increase in obstetrical violence, particularly against women from disadvantaged backgrounds. Sudden and unnatural deaths, due to natural disasters, distress leading to suicide, accidents, are common events, and the recent Covid-19 pandemic has greatly contributed to these episodes. Such experiences can challenge the worldviews of individuals in different ways. The panel aims at exploring the practices implemented to cope with the bodily and psychological violence experienced, as well as the representations that normalize or contest these types of birth and death. Violence and other related concepts are analyzed as a cultural construct. When and how is the notion of violence mobilized? How do cultural responses to such events unfold and develop? Do different actors share the same representations and practices? How do local responses to violence articulate with understandings of subjectivity, personhood and meaning making? To whom is ‘trauma’ a meaningful category? Which other notions are mobilized to describe and deal with such experiences?

Through an intersectional and multidisciplinary approach, we seek to map cultural responses to violent births and deaths. The panel aims to open a space for dialogue and collaboration between researchers from different disciplines (anthropology, psychology, history, literature, etc.). Contributions proposing interdisciplinary reflections will be particularly welcome.