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Tasteless: Towards a Food-Based Approach to Death

Val Plumwood

Environmental Values 17(2008): 323-330. doi: 10.3197/096327108X343103

ABSTRACT

In this posthumously published paper Val Plumwood reflects on two personal encounters with death, being seized as prey by a crocodile and burying her son in a country cemetery with a flourishing botanic community. She challenges the exceptionalism which sets the human self apart from nature and which is reflected in the choice between two conceptions of death, one of continuity in the realm of spirit, the other a reductive materialist conception in which death marks the end of the story of the self. Both perspectives structure out the basis of animal existence - that we are all food, and through death nourish others. She commends an animistic materialist approach, where life is seen as in circulation and where mortuary practices might affirm death as an opportunity of life for others in the ecological community.


KEYWORDS

Human exceptionalism, death, mind/body dualism, animism, ecological community, mortuary practice, narrative


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