Scrutinising the Other: Incapacity, Suspicion and Manipulation in a Death Investigation

Carpenter, Belinda and Tait, Gordon and Quadrelli, Carol A. ORCID: and Drayton, John (2015) Scrutinising the Other: Incapacity, Suspicion and Manipulation in a Death Investigation. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 36 (2). pp. 113-128. ISSN 0725-6868

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In common law countries like England, Australia, the USA and Canada, certain deaths come to be investigated through the coronial system. These include sudden, unnatural or suspicious deaths as well as those which appear to be the result of naturally occurring disease but the precise cause is unknown. When a reportable death occurs in Australia, a number of professional groups become involved in its investigation – police, coroners, pathologists and counsellors. While research has demonstrated the importance of training and education for staff in the context of criminal investigations – with its over-representation of vulnerable and marginalised populations – this is less likely to occur in the context of death investigations, despite such investigations also involving the over-representation of vulnerable populations. This paper, part of larger funded research on the decision-making of coronial professionals in the context of cultural and religious difference, explores the ways in which cultural and religious minority groups – in this case Islam, Judaism and Indigeneity – become differently positioned during the death investigation based upon how they are perceived as ‘other’. Our research raises three issues. First, positioning as ‘the other’ is dependent on the professional training of the staff member, with police and pathologists far more likely than coroners to be suspicious or ignorant of difference. Second, specific historical and contemporary events effect the Othering of religious and cultural difference. Third, the grieving practices associated with religious and cultural difference can be collectively Othered through their perceived opposition to modernity.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: File reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/author.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2022 00:02
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2022 00:02
Uncontrolled Keywords: Autopsy; Coronial Investigation; Indigeneity; Islam; Judaism; Modernity; Othering
Fields of Research (2020): 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4410 Sociology > 441011 Sociology of health
48 LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES > 4804 Law in context > 480403 Law and humanities
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1399 Other culture and society > 139999 Other culture and society not elsewhere classified
23 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 2304 Justice and the law > 230404 Law enforcement
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