Political Pedagogies of Death: Speculating New Curricular Futures

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University of New Brunswick


The current socio-historical moment is socially and environmentally precarious and our collective societal future is uncertain. This seems the ideal moment to reflect on what has been and envision what could be in education and more broadly. In this dissertation, the author speculatively theorizes, dreams, and envisions new curricular futures. Engaged with the marginal educational field of death education and the undertheorized space of death as a curricular concept, the author gestures toward death and death education as potential pathways to a politically resistant form of interiority. Interiority, or self-knowledge, is the author’s response to the fundamental question of curriculum theory—what knowledge is of most worth?—and forms the center of the author’s speculative theorizing. Framed as a complicated conversation, this work seeks to hold divergent paradigms of thought together toward provoking new understandings. Death education and interiority have both historically been framed in terms of the humanistic, and death education is often tacitly presented apolitically. In conversation with critical, posthuman, and Indigenous theories, the author challenges these limited framings of death education, articulating various political pedagogies of death and implications for education more generally. Ultimately, the author reframes death education as a call for a curriculum focused on interiority—interiority not as self-knowledge, but as self-in-relation. This relational vision of interiority is informed by pedagogical notions of attending—attending to waste, attending to corpse, attending to Land, and attending to Ancestors—which form pathways to developing relationships with the under-appreciated more-than-human and non-human others with which we humans are always co-present.