Unequal Before Death
Editor: Christina Staudt and Marcelline Block
Date Of Publication: Jun 2012
Death has been deemed the “great equalizer,” but each journey towards our shared, ultimate fate is unique. The length of our lives, the quality of our last days, how our deaths are perceived by others, and the handling of our remains are governed by nature and many socio-cultural factors. Unequal Before Death is an edited collection that addresses inequalities surrounding death from the perspectives of scholars in a wide range of humanistic and social science disciplines, including art history, anthropology, Film and media studies, political science, popular culture, psychology, religion, sociology, and statistics. The majority of the chapters of this interdisciplinary anthology are revised versions of papers presented at the second Austin H. Kutscher Memorial Conference, entitled “Unequal Before Death,” organized by the Columbia University Seminar on Death in March 2010 and attended by leading experts in academia, healthcare and the not-for-profit sector. The purpose of this volume is to bring attention to the many inequalities affecting the end of life experience and to encourage collaborative research and action that can improve the experience for the dying and those around them. This volume does not question the truism of death as the ultimate equalizer but rather, seeks to explore the many ways in which the final journey is not equal.
Christina Staudt (Ph.D. Art History, Columbia University) is the Chair of the Columbia University Seminar on Death and the co-founder of the Westchester End-of-Life Coalition. She is the co-editor of The Many Ways We Talk About Death in Contemporary Society (Mellen 2009) and contributed chapters on the literature of death and dying and on the imagery of death after 9/11 for Speaking of Death – America’s New Sense of Mortality, Michael Bartalos, ed. (Praeger 2009). She organizes events and speaks in the public and professional arena to promote a better end-of-life experience for patients and their families and has been an active hospice volunteer for fifteen years.
Marcelline Block’s publications include World Film Locations: Paris and World Film Locations: Las Vegas. Her Situating the Feminist Gaze and Spectatorship in Postwar Cinema was selected as Book of the Month in January 2012 by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. It is translated into Italian as Sguardo e pubblico femminista nel cinema del dopoguerra as part of the Università degli Studi di L’Aquila’s “Cinema ed estetica cinematografica” series (Aracne editrice). She co-edited Gender Scripts in Medicine and Narrative and Critical Matrix: The Princeton Journal of Women, Gender and Culture (vol. 18). Her articles are published in Excavatio: Realism and Naturalism in Film Studies (vol. 22), The Harvard French Review (vol. 2), and LINE: Journal of the Hadar Foundation (vol. 1). She contributed chapters to The Many Ways We Talk about Death in Contemporary Society; Vendetta: Essays on Honor and Revenge, and Cherchez la femme: Women and Values in the Francophone World. Her writing in French appears in Vingtième siècle: revue d’histoire (vol. 96). Her art criticism was translated into Russian for Russian Art beyond Borders: Late 20th Century-Early 21st Century (National Center for Contemporary Art, Moscow). She has taught in several departments at Princeton, including as a Lecturer in History.
''The contributions to this book ask some very important practical questions about where we are with the delivery of palliative care and also provide some interesting reading.''
- Richard Woodruff, IAHPC Newsletter.
"Death is anything but the great equalizer. Unequal Before Death is a critically important collection that illuminates how the politics of life are inextricable from the politics of death. From the AIDS epidemic to martyrdom in Palestine, from the death of soldiers to the death of celebrities, this book unpacks the complex relationships between death, illness, grieving, embodiment, power, culture, and nation. In the face of such inequalities, we readers cannot go gentle, but must rage, rage for the birth of justice even at the dying of the light."
- Sayantani DasGupta, MD MPH, co-chair, Columbia University Seminar in Narrative, Health and Social Justice
"This book brings a dozen excellent minds to bear on the intersection of two of our universals, inequality and death. It advocates neither of them, but puts social, medical, and many other kinds of expertise together to reflect on what they mean. Those who make policy, study it, or have to deal with it need to master the lore and the thinking it offers us."
- Robert L. Belknap, PhD, Columbia University, Professor Emeritus of Slavic Languages; Director Emeritus of University Seminars
"French founder of modern semiology Roland Barthes stated that the title of a work marks what follows as a product worthy of purchase. That concept is vital to this anthology. The snappy title Unequal Before Death introduces, through lucent prose, a splendid topos and field of knowledge that deserve to be consumed. Read this book as a tool-kit for comprehending, surviving, and perhaps even counter-mastering the lies, lures, deceptions, and miscreant acts of the Lords of Inequality."
-Marshall Blonsky, PhD, New School University
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Sample pdf (including Table of Contents)