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Call for work-in-progress seminars on cultures of disenfranchised grief



The term ‘disenfranchised grief’ is increasingly being used to designate grief experiences that are overlooked by wider society.  At the time of its coining, Kenneth J. Doka (1989) envisaged that the term be used to refer to experiences of death-related grief that lacked social recognition. In the preface to his more recent volume on the subject, however, he notes that the term has taken on ‘a conceptual life of its own’ (Doka 2002, XIV), extending far beyond the parameters initially imagined. The concept ‘integrates psychological, biological, and sociological perspectives on grief and loss’ (Doka 2002, 5), with a particular focus on the often-overlooked social dimension. This emphasis on the social opens interesting areas of inquiry that take account of diverse cultural experiences of grief, understanding culture as ‘the very milieu within which a loss is both perceived and grieved’ (Barbant 2002, 26). 

It is on this neglected social dimension that the work-in-progress series will focus. The series, organised as part of a Visiting Research Fellowship held by Jordan McCullough (SML), will consider manifestations and representations of disenfranchised grief provoked by both death-related grief that is socially marginalised and experiences of loss that extend beyond death and dying. Such experiences might include, but are not limited to, the loss of a former self, grief for a previously well child, the return of a foster child to their biological family, the loss of home, culture and/or language, divorce, infertility, abortion, imprisonment, estrangement, or (assisted) suicide. 


To foster cross-disciplinary dialogue on this topic, work-in-progress proposals are invited from researchers across the Humanities. Presentations may focus on any aspect of disenfranchised grief, broadly conceived. Colleagues interested in contributing to the series should send a short summary (100 words max.) of their proposed presentation topic to Jordan.McCullough@newcastle.ac.uk by Friday 12 January 2024.

The series will begin in early 2024. As this is part of a Virtual Fellowship scheme, the seminars will take place online, although it is envisaged that participants will subsequently be invited to an in-person workshop, to take place in Newcastle in early summer. The purpose of this workshop will be to work collaboratively towards publication. Further details of the workshop will be provided in due course. 

Any questions regarding the series should be directed to Jordan McCullough at the above email address.

Last modified: Tue, 05 Dec 2023 16:20:58 GMT