Endangered Forms of Personhood
This chapter reveals the extent to which personhood needs to be worked at, maintained, and protected. It does so by considering examples of the socially and culturally troubling boundaries between life and death, states of being what Degnen calls “endangered personhood”. These include brain death, dementia, and forms of disordered consciousness such as persistent vegetative state. All generate sharp questions around the nature of consciousness, issues of embodiment, and the ontological challenges of defining personhood or identifying where the person is located. Also explored in this chapter is the significance of narrativity and relationality for how personhood might be said to continue in the absence of individual agency, and the “loss” of the person versus the person “living on”.
- Ballenger, Jesse. 2006. The Biomedical Deconstruction of Senility and the Persistent Stigmatization of Old Age in the United States. In Thinking About Dementia: Culture, Loss, and the Anthropology of Senility, ed. Annette Leibing and Lawrence Cohen, 106–120. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Brijnath, Bianca. 2014. Unforgotten: Love and the Culture of Dementia Care in India. Oxford: Berghahn.Google Scholar
- Cranford, Ronald, and David Smith. 1987. Consciousness: The Most Critical Moral (Constitutional) Standard for Human Personhood. American Journal of Law and Medicine 13: 233–248.Google Scholar
- Department of Health. 2009. Living Well with Dementia: A National Dementia Strategy. London: Department of Health.Google Scholar
- Gubrium, Jaber. 1986. Oldtimers and Alzheimer’s: The Descriptive Organization of Senility. Greenwich: JAI Press.Google Scholar
- Haldane, Maeve. 2002. Cultural Concepts of Brain Death and Transplants. McGill Reporter, January 24, 2002. Available at: https://www.mcgill.ca/reporter/34/09/lock/. Viewed 20 Apr 2017.
- Japan Times. 2009. Recognition of Brain Death. Japan Times Editorial. June 20, 2009. Available at: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2009/06/20/editorials/recognition-of-brain-death/#.WexrrcYdwcA. Viewed 11 July 2017.
- Lawler, Steph. 2008. Identity: Sociological Perspectives. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
- Leibing, Annette, and Lawrence Cohen, eds. 2006. Thinking About Dementia: Culture, Loss, and the Anthropology of Senility. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
- Lock, Margaret. 2002. Twice Dead: Organ Transplants and the Reinvention of Death. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- ———. 2003. On Making Up the Good-As-Dead in a Utilitarian World. In Remaking Life and Death: Toward an Anthropology of the Biosciences, ed. Sarah Franklin and Margaret Lock, 165–192. Santa Fé: School of American Research Press.Google Scholar
- ———. 2013. The Alzheimer Conundrum: Entanglements of Dementia and Aging. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Mead, George. 1934. Mind, Self, and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- NHS. 2017. Brain Stem Death. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/brain-death/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Viewed 25 Apr 2017.
- Nussbaum, Martha. 2010. From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Ochs, Elinor, and Lisa Capps. 2001. Living Narrative: Creating Lives in Everyday Storytelling. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- ———. 2017. Local Virtue and Global Vision: The Practice of Eye Donation in Contemporary Sri Lanka. Medicine Anthropology Theory 4 (4): 150–170.Google Scholar