Scrutinising the other : incapacity, suspicion and manipulation in a death investigation

Carpenter, Belinda, Tait, Gordon, Quadrelli, Carol, & Drayton, John (2015) Scrutinising the other : incapacity, suspicion and manipulation in a death investigation. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 36(2), pp. 113-128.

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In common law countries like England, Australia, the USA and Canada, certain deaths come to be investigated through the coronial system. These include sudden, unnatural or suspicious deaths as well as those which appear to be the result of naturally occurring disease but the precise cause is unknown. When a reportable death occurs in Australia, a number of professional groups become involved in its investigation – police, coroners, pathologists and counsellors. While research has demonstrated the importance of training and education for staff in the context of criminal investigations – with its over-representation of vulnerable and marginalised populations – this is less likely to occur in the context of death investigations, despite such investigations also involving the over-representation of vulnerable populations. This paper, part of larger funded research on the decision-making of coronial professionals in the context of cultural and religious difference, explores the ways in which cultural and religious minority groups – in this case Islam, Judaism and Indigeneity – become differently positioned during the death investigation based upon how they are perceived as ‘other’. Our research raises three issues. First, positioning as ‘the other’ is dependent on the professional training of the staff member, with police and pathologists far more likely than coroners to be suspicious or ignorant of difference. Second, specific historical and contemporary events effect the Othering of religious and cultural difference. Third, the grieving practices associated with religious and cultural difference can be collectively Othered through their perceived opposition to modernity.

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ID Code: 82286
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: coroner, death, othering
DOI: 10.1080/07256868.2015.1008436
ISSN: 1469-9540
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > CRIMINOLOGY (160200) > Criminological Theories (160204)
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 > Schools > School of Justice
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Taylor & Francis
Copyright Statement: The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published and is available in Journal of Intercultural Studies, 03 March 2015,
Deposited On: 06 Mar 2015 01:22
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2016 05:20

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