Journal Article

The limits of dwelling and the unwitnessed death


Demographic and policy changes in Japan during the first decades of the twenty-first century have resulted in significantly more people growing older and dying alone, especially in densely populated urban centers. As the national Long-Term Care Insurance system continues to promote community-based elder care despite weakened family and neighborhood bonds, the home has become an intensified space of care as well as a potential zone of abandonment. This article considers these divergent potentials of home and their implications for thinking about the material, ethical, and aesthetic limits of dwelling as embodied in the specter and spectacle of the lonely death (kodokushi). Such deaths and the empty houses they leave behind index other forms of loss emerging from intertwined histories of the family, welfare, and housing and construction policy. I argue that the connection between local experiences of aging and death and national policies can be found in mediating images and narratives of mourning, which seek to locate and make sense of the inability to dwell. Approaching unwitnessed deaths as specters at the limits of dwelling allows us to move beyond the shock of lonely death and draws our attention instead to the links between caring, mourning, and the home in an aged society. = 21世紀前半の20年間における日本の人口動態と政策の変化の結果、特に人口密集した都心部で、一人で老後を過ごし、亡くなっていく人々の数が著しく増大した。家族や近隣共同体の絆が弱まっているにもかかわらず、国の介護保険制度が地域を基盤とした在宅高齢者介護を促進し続けているため、居宅は介護の場となるだけでなく、潜在的な放棄の場ともなっている。この記事では、これらの居宅の多様な可能性を検討する中で、孤独死の幻影(spectacle)と光景(spectacle)が具現化した場としての住まい(dwelling)の物質的、倫理的、そして美的な限界について考察する。孤独死と残された空家は、家族や福祉、住宅、そして建設政策などが絡み合った歴史から生じる社会的な喪失を写し出すのだ。ここで議論されるのは、地域における高齢化および死の経験と国家政策との関係が、居住(dwell)不可能性を見定め、理解しようと努める哀悼のイメージや物語を仲介することで見出しうるということである。誰にも目撃されることのなかった死を、住まいの限界に現れた幻影としてアプローチすることで、孤独死のショックを乗り越え、高齢化社会における思いやりと、哀悼、そして居宅との関連性に注目することが可能となる。

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Danely, Jason

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences\Department of Social Sciences


Year of publication: 2019
Date of RADAR deposit: 2019-03-05 - Cultural Anthropology journal content published since 2014 is freely available to download, save, reproduce, and transmit for noncommercial, scholarly, and educational purposes. Reproduction and transmission of journal content for the above purposes should credit the author and original source. Use, reproduction, or distribution of journal content for commercial purposes requires additional permissions from the American Anthropological Association.

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