Closing the Casket: Constructions of Death and Identity in Ireland
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McCarthy, Jack F.
This dissertation is a qualitative study of cultural constructions of death in Ireland. The meanings and conceptions of death are studied through a narrative account elicited through interviews with individuals who work as funeral directors or in related professions. Death is hereby approached through narrative accounts of the participants’ lived experiences with death, mourning and the funeral ritual in order to gain insight into the relationship between death, the human subject, and the formation of identity. As such, it brings together literatures on the philosophy of death, subject construction and identity formation. This dissertation concludes that identity, both in life and death, is utterly unstable and open to reinterpretation and appropriation by various discursive constructions of reality. As such, the funeral and the process of mourning the dead actively continues the production of the identity of the deceased.