Tag Archives: anthropology

The University of Bath – 3 Year PhD studentship in care and cost at the end of life

The University of Bath is offering a PhD studentship as part of a project on care and costs at the end of life. The studentship will focus on inter-generational relationships between adult children and their parents in organising, and paying, for end of life care and associated expenses.

Applicants from a range of social science backgrounds (sociology, social policy, social work, gerontology, cultural studies, gender studies, anthropology, and economics), with experience in qualitative methods and an awareness of the policy implications of end of life care issues, are encouraged to apply.

Find more information here.

Vacancy: full time early stage or junior researcher for research on palliative care in dementia (Belgium)

European Research Project EURO IMPACT  “European Intersectorial and Multi-disciplinary Palliative Care Research Training” (EU 7th Framework Programme) is looking for a full time early stage or junior researcher (m/f) for research on palliative care in dementia (Belgium)

EURO IMPACT aims to develop a multi-disciplinary, multi-professional and intersectorial educational and research training framework in Europe, aimed at monitoring and improving the quality of palliative care in Europe. The consortium of EURO IMPACT involves 11 partners from 6 European countries, representing a number of disciplines and professions, and trains 12 early stage researchers and 4 experienced researchers in scientific and complementary skills. The End-of-Life Care Research Group of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Brussels, Belgium, directed by Prof. dr. Luc Deliens, coordinates the project. Project website: www.euro-impact.eu

General Job Description• conducting research in the field of palliative care for people with dementia and this in a European context • writing papers for peer reviewed journals • making a doctoral dissertation • working with existing databases and/or within existing European research projects • collaborating with other researchers across Europe

Research project: • Provision of high quality palliative care for people with dementia is a major challenge for future health care • Aim of this project is to describe and compare quality of palliative care for patients with dementia in different European countries • Different aspects of quality of care will be studied eg communication, end-of-life decision-making, advance care planning, use and accessibility of palliative care, aggressiveness of care and treatments received at the end of life, and quality of dying, using a number of retrospective and prospective data that have been or are being gathered across Europe

Condition of mobility• You should be prepared to be based in Belgium • You cannot have resided/worked in Belgium for more than 12 months over the past 3 years

General Job Profile and required Skills • MSc or MA in psychology, sociology, health sciences, medicine, nursing, anthropology, philosophy, epidemiology or other related discipline or an equivalent degree which formally entitles someone to embark on a doctorate • less than 4 years of full-time research experience • fluent in written and oral English • team player • able to work independently • basic computer skills • research knowledge and skills • commitment to palliative care

Work site: •Vrije Universiteit Brussel, End-of-Life Care Research Group, Brussels, Belgium

What we offer• full time research position for 3 years in Belgium, starting as soon as possible • a research training programme (on-the-job training, structured training courses, networkwide training) provided by institutes at the forefront of palliative care research, focusing on scientific and complementary skills training such as societal dissemination to a wider international audience • monthly salary with full social security coverage  • during 16 months you receive additional monthly mobility allowances (ie €500/month) and annual travel allowances • Also included is a €2000 career exploratory allowance and a training and research budget.

Interested? •Please send your curriculum vitae including (1) research experience and duration; (2) academic and professional qualifications and grades; (3) country of current residence and experience/stays abroad to Prof. dr. Lieve Van den Block, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, End-of-Life Care Research Group: lvdblock@vub.ac.be

More information? •Prof Lieve Van den Block • lvdblock@vub.ac.be • Tel +32 474 78 18 72 • www.euro-impact.eu

Deadline: Dec 10th 2012

Welcome to our virtual book club!

Every month we will review a book that influences, or has influenced, research on culture and end-of-life care. To kick off our book club series we’ll be having a look at Ernest Becker’s Pulitzer Prize–winning, ‘The Denial of Death’.

In Denial of Death, published nearly 40 years ago, Becker builds on previously developed ideas (in his earlier books, “The birth and death of meaning: a perspective in psychiatry and anthropology” and “The escape from evil”) to eloquently argue that fear of death is the primary, unconscious, motivating force underpinning all human action.

Becker reinterprets the theories of Freud: taking inspiration from the works of the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard and the psychologist Otto Rank, he uses an ‘existential’ rather than sexual framework.

Becker argues that humans are caught in an existential dilemma: we are mortal beings conscious of our own mortality. Differentiated from the animal kingdom due to our symbolic identity, we are nonetheless consigned to the same fate as every animal. Hence this is our core problem: we are “simultaneously worms and Gods”.

As they grow, children become aware of their bodily, and hence mortal, nature. This awareness produces anxiety – a ‘terror’ – that must be repressed in order to continue as a member of society. Repression of the fear of death is therefore innate and universal; as Becker puts it, ‘Everything man does in his symbolic world is an attempt to deny and overcome his grotesque fate’.

‘Heroism’ is a reflex response to this ‘terror’: the need to triumph over death through forming part of something larger and immortal. Not only is our character formed to repress awareness of death, but also culture is described as a symbolic action system designed to serve human heroism.

Such a description of human society sounds, from the outset, rather noble: a system that supports heroic intentions. Becker however argues that from these noble intentions, ‘evil’ develops: conflicts and wars are, essentially, battles over immortality projects.

In addition to developing a theory of character, culture and even evil, Becker convincingly reinterprets Freud’s most famous theories, applying his existential ‘death anxiety’ framework, and outlines how mental illness is linked to too little or too much repression of the terror of death. ‘Good’ mental health is associated with not having too many, or the wrong sorts, of repressions. However, as everyone experiences death anxiety, freedom from repression is impossible. The most anyone can hope for is ‘a kind of relaxed openness to experience that makes him less of a burden on others’. This openness can be achieved by exploring the fear of death to get closer to the ‘authentic self’

Becker’s theory of culture can be seen as functionalist: immortality projects are a latent function of cultural-systems. Critiques of sociological functionalist perspectives are therefore also applicable to Becker’s work. Even though functionalist approaches remain unfashionable, the influence of the Denial of Death is still huge; a quick search in google scholar reveals over 10,000 articles published on terror management theory (directly derived from Becker’s work) in 2012 alone.

The enduring appeal of Becker’s work may lie in its hopeful message: facing our fear of death can, ultimately, lead to better lives and better societies.

Reviewer: Natalie Evans

Next month’s book club choices look at the end of life from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective. Natalie will review ‘The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying’ by Sogyal Rinpoche  and ‘Life, Death and the After Death’ by Lama Yeshe on December 20th.

 If you would like to suggest a book for review, or indeed review a book yourself, please get in contact with Natalie –  n.evans@vumc.nl

Culture and End of Life Care: A Scoping Exercise in Seven European Countries

A recently published article from the PRISMA project provides a general overview of cultural issues in end of life care in seven European countries.

The abstract can be found below or the full article can be accessed here.


Culture is becoming increasingly important in relation to end of life (EoL) care in a context of globalization, migration and European integration. We explore and compare socio-cultural issues that shape EoL care in seven European countries and critically appraise the existing research evidence on cultural issues in EoL care generated in the different countries.


We scoped the literature for Germany, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Portugal, carrying out electronic searches in 16 international and country-specific databases and handsearches in 17 journals, bibliographies of relevant papers and webpages. We analysed the literature which was unearthed, in its entirety and by type (reviews, original studies, opinion pieces) and conducted quantitative analyses for each country and across countries. Qualitative techniques generated themes and sub-themes.


A total of 868 papers were reviewed. The following themes facilitated cross-country comparison: setting, caregivers, communication, medical EoL decisions, minority ethnic groups, and knowledge, attitudes and values of death and care. The frequencies of themes varied considerably between countries. Sub-themes reflected issues characteristic for specific countries (e.g. culture-specific disclosure in the southern European countries). The work from the seven European countries concentrates on cultural traditions and identities, and there was almost no evidence on ethnic minorities.


This scoping review is the first comparative exploration of the cultural differences in the understanding of EoL care in these countries. The diverse body of evidence that was identified on socio-cultural issues in EoL care, reflects clearly distinguishable national cultures of EoL care, with differences in meaning, priorities, and expertise in each country. The diverse ways that EoL care is understood and practised forms a necessary part of what constitutes best evidence for the improvement of EoL care in the future.

Death Matters Exhibition – Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam

“Death Matters” is a new exhibition at the Tropenmuseum (Amsterdam, the Netherlands).

The exhibition focuses mainly on material culture and the rituals of death and dying. Different perspectives about what occurs after death are also examined and contrasted and visitors are encouraged to think about how they themselves would like to be remembered through a number of interactive activities.

For more information click here

PhD studentship in Palliative Care for Children and Young People

The Louis Dundas Centre for Children’s Palliative Care (UCL) is offering a 4 year PhD studentship in paediatric palliative care research.

The post entails conducting a prospective ethnographic study with young people, their parents and health professionals and a review concerning factors related to young peoples’ decision making processes.

This position may be of interest for anthropology or sociology students.

For further information see the following link.

Powerpoint Presentations

In response to popular demand we have uploaded the presentations made by both members of our team and external experts at various conferences.

International Meeting on Culture and End of Life Care
Vic, Spain, 17-18 May 2010

17th May

WP1 Work

Culture and end of life care

Key cultural issues in end-of-life care in three Mediterranean countries

Cultural Competency Models

Culture in Different Settings

Culture in Different Settings: Priorities from a UK perspective

Culture in different settings: Priorities from a Belgian perspective

Culture in different setting: Priorities from a Norway perspective

18th May

Spirituality in End of Life Care

Spirituality in End of Life Care

Conscientious objections: a neglected topic in culture and end end-of of-life care


Dignity for the frail old

End of Life Decision Making

End-of-life decisions in Belgium: Attitudes and practices

Practices and attitudes regarding end-of-life decisions in Spain


End of life Cultural, Social, Ethical, Legal perspectives

Telling the truth or conserving hope? An Italian deep-rooted contradiction

Cultural Competency and Minority Ethnic Groups

Cultural Vulnerability, Care and Ethics

Cultural competence and communication in palliative care for Turkish and Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands

11th Congress of the EAPC
Vienna, Austria, 7-10 May 2009

A call for expertise for the development of a European network of experts on culture and end of life care

Making Culture Relevant to End End-of of-Life Practice: An Overview of Approaches to Cultural Competency

What does culture mean? An analysis of the role of culture in Spanish end- of-life care literature

Some Critical Comments on “Culture” and “Competence”

Transformations of the body and social uses of symptoms between local and global

Those of you with an interest in medical anthropology may find the MAAH-VI conference “Transformations of the body and social uses of symptoms between local and global” (Royaumont, France, May 7-9, 2010) of interest.

MAAH is a network of medical anthropologists who do research in their own culture and society. The network’s aim is to bring together medical anthropologists in order to discuss theoretical, methodological and practical issues in relation to health and culture.

Dr Arantza Meñaca, a member of the PRISMA ‘culture and end of life care’ work package team, will be giving the following presentation:

The role of culture in end-of-life care. Key issues in three Mediterranean countries.

A. Meñaca, R. Pool, N. Evans, E. Andrew, M. Gysels.

More information concerning the conference can be found at the link: http://www.vjf.cnrs.fr/maah-france/