This PhD project concerns a study of the ritualisation of euthanasia in the Netherlands. The aims of the project are (1) to gain empirical insight into the actual ritual practices surrounding euthanasia, (2) to understand the efficacy of the ritual practices concerned, and (3) to improve the theoretical grasp of the design of best ritual practices to facilitate a ‘good death’.
For twenty years now, the Netherlands has had statutory rules and procedures regarding the termination of life on request. It is known that assisted dying has a considerable emotional and psychological impact and that rituals at the end of life can offer solace and have beneficial effects on resolving grief. So far, there has been no sustained research into the ritualisation of this contemporary form of dying. Euthanasia, however, is an important social phenomenon that has the potential, as preliminary research indicates, to challenge the status quo of ritual studies, not least because of the ultimate control over circumstances and timing of death and thus its highly 'programmed' character. At issue is the contrived malleability of rituals in relation to their actual efficacy, especially in terms of offering solace. You will describe and analyse the rituals in question through a survey, direct observation, and ethnographic interviews.
You will work on the project under the supervision of a team consisting of Prof. Eric Venbrux (Radboud University), Prof. Christoph Jedan (University of Groningen) and Dr Derek Strijbos (Radboud University).
Your teaching load may be up to 10 percent of your working time. You may be asked to give some lectures on topics related to your research in, for example, interdisciplinary courses in Health Care Humanities.
You will participate in the Graduate School of Humanities and take a number of courses. Furthermore, you will be a member of the Department of Comparative Religious Studies and the Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society of the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies. You will present your work at conferences and workshops, publish your research in first-author papers in peer-reviewed journals, and produce a PhD thesis. In addition, you will communicate your key findings to special interest groups and the general public.
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