Death and Violence

A symposium hosted by the BSA Social Aspects of Death, Dying and Bereavement and Violence and Society Study Groups

25 January 2019
University of Salford, UK

About the Event

Throughout history both death and violence have exposed the fragility of social bonds and posed serious ontological challenges for humanity. In acts of genocide, war and mass or serial killing, death by violence often attracts ‘morbid’ interest and abject terror in equal measure. Deadly acts of violence are primarily physical, but they can also be political and symbolic, leaving a permanent imprint upon individuals, communities and nations. Beyond the human body, violence can lead to the death and decay of important aspects of social life including trust and relationships, physical spaces and individual and group identities. Moreover, while physical bodies may die as a result of violent acts, dying itself in the absence of harmful intent, may also be experienced as violent.

As the bloody 20th century came to an end John Keane (1996) speculated on the prospect of more violent deaths in the 21st. Conflict in Syria, the Grenfell tower fire, deaths linked to austerity, migrant deaths in Europe and the recent rise in homicides in England and Wales, are but a few contemporary examples of how various forms of violence and death intersect. Furthermore, technological advances increasingly enable viewing of violent death, whilst its popularity is evident within the film and videogame industries.

Death, violence and their social consequences are thus intimately connected in different ways and the aim of this one-day symposium is to explore the linkages across these two conceptual areas. We'll bring together sociologists from different fields such as criminology and death studies to discuss empirical and theoretical matters pertaining to the symposium theme and will address, but not necessarily be limited to, the following issues:

  • Death, violence and inequalities
  • Political violence and mortality
  • Death and displacement
  • Death and violence in popular cultures
  • ‘Dark’ spaces and violent death/s
  • Digital technology, violent deaths and voyeurism
  • ‘Bad’ (violent) deaths
  • Bereavement, trauma and memorialization following violent death
  • Methodological and ethical issues in the study of violence and death

This Symposium is a collaboration between the BSA’s Death, Dying and Bereavement and Violence and Society study groups. It will be held on Friday, 25 January 2019 in the Mary Seacole Building, room MS302 at the University of Salford. 

Keane, J (1996) Reflections on Violence. London: Verso