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Tasteless: Towards a Food-Based Approach to Death

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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.
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Keywords: animism; death; ecological community; human exceptionalism; mind/body dualism; mortuary practice; narrative

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-08-01

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  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2016) of 1.279.
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