(Un) Natural Grief: Novelty, Tradition and Naturalization in Israeli Discourse on Posthumous Reproduction

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Abstract

This article examines Israeli discourse on posthumous reproduction (PR) and the related cultural construction of “(un)natural” grief. Based mainly on an analysis of in-depth interviews with family members who submitted a request for PR, we examine the regimes of justification used by supporters and opponents of this technology. With both sides using the notion of “nature” to support their claim, the dispute centers on whether PR constructs a new social expression of grief (and hence should be seen as unnatural) or is only a reflection of an age-old grieving process (and is thus natural). We argue that by employing a twofold, novel/traditional justification, PR supporters aim to go one step further, from a symbolic continuity of the dead to a so-called real one. This progression highlights the flexibility of the natural category at the intersection of technology and culture and the abandonment of such binary distinctions as life/death and nature/culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-363
Number of pages19
JournalMedical Anthropology Quarterly
Volume33
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2019

Keywords

  • Israel
  • continuing bonds
  • grief
  • naturalization of technology
  • posthumous reproduction

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