THE DIRECTOR’S SEMINAR SERIES Law And Humanities in a Pandemic: Life, Death and Health During the Pandemic

Death, Burials and Funerals: Grieving in the Shadow of Covid-19
Hui Yun Chan, University of Huddersfield

Covid-19 has radically upended death and dying. Emergency rules have prevented people from attending burials with families, while socio-cultural practices related to funerals and mourning are forced to be abandoned. This contribution aims to explore how the pandemic has affected burials, funeral practices and mourning. It examines the extent to which the emergency law balances the caution to protect public health and the opportunity for people to have closure, taking into account the impact on the surviving families and the wider community. These perspectives are useful in illuminating the meaning of being human in the context of end-of-life.


The Politics of COVID-19: Reshaping Healthcare Law and Policy in the UK 
Sabrina Germain, City, University of London

The paper will analyse how the context of the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the rules for the allocation of healthcare resources in the United Kingdom and thereby profoundly redefined the role of medical professionals in healthcare law and policy making. The paper proposes to first consider how the COVID-19 emergency measures were the product of politics that led to a shift in healthcare rationing methods using the health of the population as a primary objective through which to determine what should be prioritised in healthcare during the first wave of the pandemic. Secondly, it will explore how traditionally the medical profession in the United Kingdom has understood healthcare as a question of egalitarian justice and supported these principles through policy interventions during the elaboration of healthcare reforms. In light of this analysis, the paper will conclude that the first wave of the pandemic was an unprecedented context in the history of the NHS in that it may signal a more permanent shift from an egalitarian to a utilitarian approach for the delivery of healthcare and redefine the policy and clinical role of medical professionals.

Counting the Dead During a Pandemic
Marc Trabsky, La Trobe University

Governmental responses to the Covid-19 pandemic have made use of an array of technologies for managing life, maximising its efficacy and exploiting its vitality. This can be seen by the tabulation of mortality rates, construction of makeshift morgues, techniques for disposing multiple corpses and representations of the pandemic as a ‘black swan’ event. This paper will examine a tension between governmental representations of the pandemic as an anomaly and techniques for normalizing death as an inevitable outcome of life. The Covid-19 pandemic exposes how governmental, medical, legal and financial institutions harness normalizing technologies to define the limit point between life and death, take care of the dead and determine what deaths should be counted at all. 

School of Advanced Study
Event date: 
Friday, 13 November 2020 - 12:00pm