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Normalising death in the time of a pandemic

journal contribution
posted on 14.01.2022, 00:09 authored by Marc TrabskyMarc Trabsky
This paper examines a tension during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic between discourses of death as an anomaly and techniques for normalising death as an inevitable outcome of life. It contends that the technology of registering a death in the Global North in 2020 was conditioned upon differentiating between the normal and the pathological, standards and variations, and an average and excess. Indeed, the registration of a death depended on the creation of a new universal nomenclature for ascertaining causation, which excluded various circumstances of a person’s life in order to stabilise SARS-CoV-2 as a normative category for classification. The paper thus reveals how in the time of a pandemic, the technology of registration can be utilised to pathologise specific kinds of death, while unproblematically reifying the concept of a normal death. It argues that what the initial phase of COVID-19 exposes, particularly though the productive tension between discourses of death as both an anomaly and inevitability, is that normalising technologies are inextricable from how a panoply of institutions determine what deaths should be counted at all.

History

Publication Date

30/11/2021

Journal

Oñati Socio-Legal Series

Article Number

1367

Pagination

16p.

Publisher

Onati International Institute for the Sociology of Law

ISSN

2079-5971

Rights Statement

© 2021 Dr Marc Trabsky. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. You are free to share – to copy, distribute and display the work – under the following conditions: Attribution: You must attribute the work as [Name(s) of author(s)], [Title of article], Oñati Socio-Legal Series; and provide its DOI number or the DOI link to the article. Non commercial: You may not use this work for commercial purposes. No Derivative Works: You may not alter, transform or build upon this work. For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the licence terms of this work. Please contact l.kortabarria@iisj.es with any questions.

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