Senior Lecturer - University College Cork
The dead body as a medical commons?
Key objectives of this project are:
1. To undertake an in-depth review of scholarship on the commons and the dead body with a view to refining the concept of the dead body as a medical commons. The ubiquity in recent times of ‘the commons’ and its appearance in the political interventions of those on the Left and Right, neo-liberals and neo-Keynesians, conservatives and anarchists alike highlights the importance of examining how the dead body can be variously imagined as a medical commons.
2. To develop an in-depth analysis of the potential social, legal and ethical implications of regarding the dead body as a medical commons, such as its potential to undermine possessive individualism and commodification, but also the possibility of a ‘tragedy of the dead body medical commons’ if associated with limitless medicine and coercive post-mortem moral imperatives.
3. To engage with multiple audiences in multiple ways about the idea of the dead body as a medical commons. In order to contribute to academic and public discourse, this will entail engagement with scholars in the social sciences, medicine and bioethics, but also the broader public.
4. To meet with and explore the possibility of establishing research links with other scholars from a range of disciplines. These will include staff in the University of Geneva, such as those the Department of Sociology with an interest in scholarship on death and the body.
Órla O’Donovan is a senior lecturer in the School of Applied Social Studies in University College Cork. She is interested in the search for radically alternative ways of living (and dying), beyond the trappings and alienations of patriarchy and consumer capitalism. In recent years this has led her to explore the promises of ‘the commons’ as a route away from the pervasive (yet impossible) individualism of our times. Recognising that the commons can be dangerous ground, she has been exploring how conventional regimes of truth might be productively disrupted through the imaginary and practice of the commons. In a recent transdisciplinary project, Living Well with the Dead in Contemporary Ireland, she has been drawing on post-humanist theorising of the commons to critically explore and imagine a dead body commons.
Together with Rosie Meade and Fiona Dukelow, she is a co-editor of the Cork University Press series Síreacht. Longings for another Ireland (http://sireacht.ie ). Also with Rosie Meade, she is co-editor of the Community Development Journal, which recently published a special issue on Water, Anti-privatisation Struggles and the Commons (https://academic.oup.com/cdj/issue/54/1 ).