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Title: Breathing Life into Death(work): Undertaking in Singapore
Authors: SU GUOJIE
Keywords: undertaking, more-than-representation theory, everyday geographies, rhythm, senses and feelings, materiality
Issue Date: 29-Dec-2011
Citation: SU GUOJIE (2011-12-29). Breathing Life into Death(work): Undertaking in Singapore. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: This thesis explores the everyday work geographies of undertaking by looking at the rhythmic and visceral engagements of 20 undertakers (e.g. funeral directors, pall-bearers, embalmers and emcees) from Singapore. The aim of the thesis is twofold. First in response to the paucity of work dealing with the vocation and the prevalence of a polarised lens that favours post-burial sites within the discipline, this thesis aims to foreground an emphasis on pre-burial sites (i.e. geographies of undertaking). In doing so, it advances the notion that the dead is not dead in geography by highlighting that studying death in geography does not necessarily preclude liveliness. The second aim, however, pushes past the veil of a `dead geography? by steering away from the usual conception (i.e. Goffman?s drama metaphor) found in the literature of undertaking outside the discipline to more-than-representation theory and focusing on the everyday practices of the workers. This offers a more contextual and embodied reading of the vocation that takes into account pertinent intersecting variables such as temporal rhythms and visceral engagements. This is realised through establishing a conceptual framework that is defined by two main approaches: 1) rhythmic routines that draws from the concept of time-space; and 2) senses and feelings which draws from sensuous geographies, affect and emotions. The concept of materiality is also included in conceptualising the contours of these two approaches. Understanding that this thesis emplaces itself in the fabric of more-than-representation theory, an experimented form of methodology was taken up. Two main interview methods (i.e. seated and mobile) guided by an aide memoire were adopted. Their means of deployment were modified and tailored accordingly to the site conditions. For three respondents that had participated in the seated interviews, a life-story interview was adopted when they were able to slide easily into a story-telling mode. Audio-visual recording was also employed for all four mobile interviews together with field notes to better capture the contingent moments found my respondents? everyday work geographies. Data retrieved from the aforementioned methods were filtered through the conceptual framework and analysed thereafter.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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