New Publication: Computer technology and the culture of death and dying

Computer technology is changing the culture of death and dying in modern societies and is challenging the interdisciplinary thanatology to which TA can contribute.

Culture of death and dying is a complex issue covering the prolongation of life and death, varieties of dying and the determination of the exact point in time of death. It also includes the culturally determined forms of funerals, the memory of the dead as well as imaginaries about and the hereafter and immortality. The use of technology in these contexts is increasing.

The contributions to the new book “Computertechnik und Sterbekultur” (Computer technology and the culture of death and dying) give insights into how dying as part of life and the life after death - at least in memories and in the media - is progressively and deeply tied to the use of techniques and transformed by it.

The diversity of the perspectives presented, from computer science, philosophy, cultural studies, history of art, media studies, literature studies, religious studies, sociology to technology assessment and theology makes apparent the productivity of an interdisciplinary thanatology.

TA has previously been studying related topics like telemedicine, care robots, "human enhancement", cyborgs, synthetic biology and the creation of artificial life and the Internet as a new medium and memory of our cultural heritage. However, the usual perspective of TA can be enriched in a meaningful way by inclusion of the perspective of death and dying. This allows, namely, to go beyond the mode of progress, enhancement and life extension, and to relate technical developments and innovations explicitly to finitude, dying, death, grief, imaginaries of the hereafter, memories and consolation.

The editors of this volume are from the Institute for Technology Assessment and System Analysis (ITAS), the ZAK | Centre for Cultural and General Studies, and the Institute of Philosophy of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Together they had organized an interdisciplinary workshop on Computer technology and the culture of death and dying in late 2010 the fruit of which is the present anthology. (14.01.2015)

Bibliographic references

Böhle, K.; Berendes, J.; Gutmann, M.; Robertson-von Trotha, C.; Scherz, C. (Hrsg.)
Computertechnik und Sterbekultur (Hermeneutic und Anthropologie, Bd. 5), Münster: LIT 2014
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