Date: Saturday 9 May 2015
Venue: Birkbeck, University of London
Call for paper deadline: Friday 12 December 2014
“…if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live”
(Martin Luther King, 23 June 1963, Speech at the Great March on Detroit)
This one day multi-disciplinary conference explores where and when a positive value has been placed on dying and death. How and why are certain ways of dying admired or even desired? In the name of religion, ideology, nation or emotion, some people have accepted or even sought death. In some instances, the ultimate sacrifice of life is thought to serve the greater social good; such deaths may be seen as honourable, noble and altruistic. Yet placing a positive value on death can be deeply problematic; these deaths are also condemned and regretted. This conference explores the many ways honourable deaths may be lamented, deplored, praised or embraced.
We welcome proposals for 20-minute long papers from doctoral candidates and early career researchers on any aspect of this broad topic and covering any geographical area and period. Proposals for papers might include (but are not limited to) case studies and/or explorations of:
- What types of death are (or have been) given positive value? In what does their merit lie? Who determines this value and how? Examples might include dying in war; religious martyrdom, deaths in civil and human rights protests; just war; memorials to the dead – literary, physical, ceremonial etc.;
- How and why have ideas about what constitutes a worthy death changed? What do these deaths tell us about the relationship between the social and the personal? Examples might include ‘noble’ Roman suicide, Japanese ritual suicide; sacrificial death; duelling;
- How has the notion of honourable death been used and abused, for example, in the case of ‘honour’ killing?
We welcome proposals from all relevant academic disciplines, which may include History, Religious Studies, Anthropology, Psychology and Psychosocial Studies, Philosophy, Politics, Literature Studies, History of Art, Classical Studies.
If you would like to present a paper, please submit an abstract (max. 500 words) along with a paragraph (max. 200 words) which outlines your institution, the academic discipline in which you are researching and your main doctoral/ research project.
Send your proposals to email@example.com by Friday 12 December 2014. We will inform you if your paper has been accepted by Friday 23 January 2015.
Sue Blunn and Guy Beckett, Co-Conveners
Birkbeck, University of London