The Politics of Intimacy @ The University of Michigan Press


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Debates on the end-of-life controversy have become highly complex in recent decades as they seem to highjack national and cultural traditions. Whereas previous analyses have focused on the ideological grounds of these discussions, this book turns to intimacy of dying and discloses it as the site where policies are formulated, negotiated and implemented. Intimacy comprises the individual emotional experience of the end of life and the way it is acknowledged, or not, by institutions. The process of acknowledging this experience explains that the end-of-life controversy relies upon the conflicting relationship between the individual and institutions, a relationship that seemed to be the unquestionable cornerstone of Western liberal democracies.

The move toward intimacy is both necessary and problematic. Through interviews with mourners, stakeholders and medical professionals, as well as through extensive examination of media debates, policy papers, and speeches in France and Czech Republic, the book describes that Liberal democratic institutions, while trying to accommodate and acknowledge the emotional experience with the end of life, ultimately fail and enter a dynamic of deadlock. The book describes this deadlock as the “politics of intimacy,” showing that political institutions deploy power through the collective acknowledgement of individual emotional experience but also fail to maintain this recognition because of this very same experience.