In this module, we will explore the various ways the phenomenon of death is conceptualized and defined, interpreted and analyzed in the natural sciences and the social sciences. Thus, we will look at the molecular and physiological processes that constitute decay and dying, and challenge the simplistic and generalizing definitions of life and death. At the same time, we are going to investigate the wide range of religious and cultural conceptions of life and death and their anthropological and philosophical theories. We then move on to the elusive topic of immortality and see whether it is a scientific possibility – while recognizing that various cultures and religions have already made claims that there is life after death in one way or another. Finally, as a continuation of the life and death cycle, we look into the field of heritage, what it refers to in biology and anthropology, and how it becomes one of the most fundamental traits of death itself.
The module aims to highlight how the seemingly obvious and well-understood event of death is actually highly complicated and therefore shapes numerous aspects of life and history. The dual, biological and anthropological approach of the module makes it suitable for students interested in either biological and medical sciences, or those pursuing psychological, anthropological or social sciences. Nevertheless, we invite young scholars from any field who are interested in the mysterious and intriguing phenomenon of death.