chapter  Chapter 7
18 Pages

Reinventing Death

WithRobert M. Ariss†, Gary W. Dowsett

The social response to the interdiction has been to remove death from the mundane realms of everyday living. Death is rendered a special problem to be managed in discrete social spaces such as hospitals, hospices, and crematoriums. This chapter illustrates experiences of death in the time of AIDS. Three case studies document the struggle for release from life-sustaining technology and the meanings generated for the individuals engaged in this struggle. The practices of euthanasia, increasingly common because of AIDS, are at odds with both legal proscription against aiding suicide, and prevailing Christian discourses about the preeminence of life over death. Several organizations in Australia have attempted to deal strategically with the issue of euthanasia, notably the New South Wales Euthanasia Society, and People Living with AIDS. The deaths of Tom and Steven were unique in many ways. Yet each may be taken to represent a cultural predicament broader than these individual lives and deaths.