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Dr Marc Trabsky
LaTrobe University
Dr Jacinthe Flore
LaTrobe University

Necro-waste designates the by-products of different applications of work on a corpse in death-related trades. It includes an ensemble of materials – fluids, gases, tissue, bone, skin, implants, chemicals and effluence – discarded from medico-legal investigations, medical research and training, transplantation procedures, plastination techniques and technologies for the disposal of dead bodies. This paper examines how necro-waste poses an epistemological problem for legal definitions of the corpse. It will unpack how the persistence of the rule in the common law that the corpse is not a thing imagines a dead body that is a priori unique, whole and bounded. And it will show how necro-waste undermines this legal epistemology by transforming the corpse into lucrative waste and revealing embodiment as porous, relational and entangled. Drawing on feminist new materialism, posthumanism and the philosophy of excess, this article puts forward a rethinking of the legal category of the corpse through a critical examination of the lucrative, material entanglements involved in the production of necro-waste.

Dr Marc Trabsky is a Senior Lecturer at La Trobe Law School and the Deputy Director of the Centre for Health Law and Society, La Trobe University. He writes in the intersections of legal theory, history and the humanities. Marc’s research examines the theoretical, historical and institutional arrangements of law and death. His most recent monograph is titled Law and the Dead: Technology, Relations and Institutions (Routledge, 2019).

Dr Jacinthe Flore is a Vice-Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School and Global Studies Centre at RMIT University. Her research focuses on the intersections of technology, health and society. Jacinthe has published articles in Social Sciences and Medicine, Sexualities, Feminist Media Studies and Subjectivity.

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