ABSTRACT

In the forensic turn, metaphorical death is everywhere, but actual death is another matter entirely. The containment of death is an essential part of the promises extended by forensic logic; and this containment entails abstraction of the material reality of dying. Forensic culture stimulates fear of dying but also fear of thinking about death. It exploits our tendency to box death off and shield ourselves from our mortality. It situates the human body as that which emits data, and death is a prime data-gathering opportunity. Dead bodies, and death itself, are thereby eviscerated. In solving the problem of death by taking the corpse out of circulation, cleaning it up by diagnosing ‘the cause’ with specialist equipment, the forensic’s autoptic gaze enables us to stave off the need for deeper diagnosis; and to avoid confronting the reality that dying is essential to what we are.