Re: Dead body fetishism?

mike shupp (ms44278@HUEY.CSUN.EDU)
Sat, 27 Jul 1996 13:44:33 -0700

On Sat, 27 Jul 1996, Timothy Mason wrote:

> So far as the fixation of the *American public* was concerned, the call for
> return of soldiers' remains was far from eccentric. They had been persuaded
> by a number of powerful communicators - amongst them Hollywood and the
> President of the United States - that combatants reported MIA were in fact
> being maintained in torture camps by the Vietnamese....
> Another place to look to read about Western feelings about dead bodies would
> be Linebaugh's book on the London hanged. Crowds would charge Tyburn Tree as
> the felons' bodies were cut down, in order to save them from the surgeon's
> knife. Shupp's suggestion that negative feelings about autopsies probably
> are in inverse correlation to educational level may well be true - but there
> may be an intervening variable - social power.

These are both good points, which I had overlooked. And
historically, since at least Civil War days, Americans have
taken heavy casualties to extricate the bodies of their combat
dead (fearing what the Indians might do to them, I suspect).

Still, as far as I can recall, saving bodies for burial was
just something Americans did until the 1970's, not something
that we screamed much about. And the original post that set
off this discussion had it right, in my estmation-- we've
become hysterical.

It's a response to perceived powerlessness, I suspect. But
that's psychology, rather than anthropology-- let it go.

Mike Shupp
California State University, Northridge