The body in grief : death investigations, objections to autopsy, and the religious and cultural 'other'

Carpenter, Belinda, Tait, Gordon, Quadrelli, Carol, & (2014) The body in grief : death investigations, objections to autopsy, and the religious and cultural 'other'. Religions, 5(1), pp. 165-178.

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Sudden, violent and otherwise unexplained deaths are investigated in most western jurisdictions through a Coronial or medico-legal process. A crucial element of such an investigation is the legislative requirement to remove the body for autopsy and other medical interventions, processes which can disrupt traditional religious and cultural grieving practices. While recent legislative changes in an increasing number of jurisdictions allow families to raise objections based on religious and cultural grounds, such concerns can be over-ruled, often exacerbating the trauma and grief of families. Based on funded research which interviews a range of Coronial staff in one Australian jurisdiction, this paper explores the disjuncture between medico-legal discourses, which position the body as corpse, and the rise of more ‘therapeutic’ discourses which recognise the family’s wishes to reposition the body as beloved and lamented.

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3 citations in Scopus
4 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 69598
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: body, religion, Indigenous, culture, death, sacred, grief, autopsy, coroner, Australia
DOI: 10.3390/rel5010165
ISSN: 2077-1444
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > CRIMINOLOGY (160200)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Crime & Justice Research Centre
Current > Schools > School of Cultural & Professional Learning
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Health Law Research
Current > Schools > School of Justice
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland
Copyright Statement: This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (
Deposited On: 31 Mar 2014 23:05
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2015 05:18

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