Re: Dead body fetishism?

Sat, 27 Jul 1996 18:48:05 EDT

It is interesting to note that embalming was developed during the Civil
War so that the fallen dead could be returned to their homes for burial.
After this, the technique took on a life of its own and its fortunes
were closely juxtaposed to burgeoning conceptions of hygiene on the one
hand, and the undertakers attempt to establish themselves as a
pseudo-meidcal profession. The concern with hygiene occurred as cities
became ever larger and disease was associated with squalor.
However, I think it is important to bear in mind that a concern
with the body and its treatment after deathhas had a long history in
Christendom. Indeed, the resurrection was understood literally until
the Middle Ages, and there were perverse discussions concerning what
would become of Jesus Christ's foreskin, and Acquinas' speculation
concerning the resurrection of a man that ate only human embryos that
bore children that ate only human embryos.
The MIA issue is of course a very practical consideration and it
was important that it was pointed out. Also, the intervening factor of
social control is an important aspect too; I think here of the
legitimation value the bones of Saints had in the early Middle Ages.
Oaths were sworn on the bones and where the bones of Saints were housed
and who had control of them were important in political struggles and the
assertion of legitimate claim to thrones and land, and so forth.

Best Regards,