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Interdisciplinary conference: Images of Afterlife
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10/22/2014 to 10/24/2014
When: 10/22/2014
Where: University of Turku

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Images of death and afterlife are rich and manifold in various religious contexts, as well as in artistic, media and other symbolic expressions. Representations of afterlife reflect cultural values, fears and hopes. In the contemporary West collective religious representations are challenged and completed by individual conceptions and beliefs, which, in turn, derive from various cultural sources. How has afterlife - the life and existence of souls and minds (or bodies) after death - been imagined in different contexts and how is it imagined today? What are the contexts in which these images are expressed? Where do afterlife conceptions come from and what is their significance in the societies of the living?

The interdisciplinary conference Images of Afterlife aims to discuss the cultural imagery of death and afterlife from various perspectives, such as anthropology, history, linguistics, religious studies, arts studies, social sciences, health care, psychology and psychiatry, in various cultural and historical contexts. We welcome a broad spectrum of papers, which illustrate and analyze theoretical approaches to cultural representations as well as to individual experiences of death and afterlife. The representations can include stories, beliefs, conceptions, customs and rituals, as well as works of art and literature. We are also interested in various methodologies that can be applied in the study of the images, including multidisciplinary methodologies.

Topics for papers may include but are not limited to:

  • Religious and spiritual images of afterlife
  • Images of afterlife in art
  • Mythic topographies of the otherworld
  • Secular conceptions of afterlife
  • Afterlife conceptions as sources of comfort and hope
  • Beliefs about persistence of the mind after death
  • Mind, soul and consciousness
  • "Good" and "bad" death
  • Suicide and afterlife
  • Euthanasia
  • Organ transplantation
  • Death, afterlife and multiculturalism in health care
  • Agency in afterlife
  • Marginalized discourses of afterlife
  • Interaction with the spaces and agents of the afterlife
  • Spirits, souls, ghosts, wraiths, apparitions, revenants
  • Near-death experiences and deathbed visions
  • Afterlife: popular (pseudo-scientific) discourses vs. legitimized doctrines

The conference is organized by the research project Mind and the Other - An Interdisciplinary Study on the Interactions of Multiple Realities (funded by the Academy of Finland) in collaboration with the Finnish Death Studies Association.

The invited keynote lecturers are:

Professor Altti Kuusamo, Art History, University of Turku
Professor Eija-Liisa Ahtila, The Academy of Fine Arts (tbc)
Professor Emerita Margaret Lock, Social Studies of Medicine, McGill University (tbc)
Professor Samuel Scheffler, Philosophy, New York University (tbc)
Professor Jussi Kotkavirta, Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä (tbc)

Those who wish to present a paper in the conference are kindly requested to send an abstract of no more than 300 words (in .rtf, .doc or .docx format) to by February 28, 2014. Please send with the abstract your name, affiliation, contact information and field of specialization. Notices of acceptance will be sent by April 30, 2014.

Further information about the conference, social program, travel and accommodation in Turku will be soon available on our web page

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