Hospitalized Death in the Age of COVID: Death at the Margins of Intensive Care Units
Project Description

Death in the pandemic era is the Obvious Hidden; a paradoxical term though directly refers to the hidden truth behind death in our age. Nowadays, deaths are vividly on displays; you can see real-time dashboards, you are bombarded with ceaseless breaking news from across the globe, you can follow online charts and bars of death toll rates of each country is watching how visibly death and dying is. In such a tight lockdown situation, the deaths have become more visible than ever. Oppositely, deaths have disappeared behind the doors of Intensive Care Units (ICUs), people can no longer see the dying stages of their loved ones. But the ICU doors with no-entry signs are the last encounters with the victim. We no longer see death together with the gradual weakening of bodies and the irreversible damage to tissues and organs. This ignorance also deeply affects the belief in and acceptance of death. Also, the stages of death are out of sight; the last memory of the patient would be a defective and fearful goodbye. Death Rituals are all suspended, corpses no longer have the respect and mourning of the past. As a doctor in the ICU, Mohammadhossein Bahmanzadegan Jahromi, co-author of this project, has the duty to tell bad news to families and friends, but the grief and sorrow is much more complicated comparing with before the emergence of the pandemic. A multidisciplinary approach needed to form the discourse to address the issue and to conceive how the modern clinic and its environments of health, like hospice and hospitals, have shaped a new form of necropolitics. Applying historical review and taking a critical approach to the concept of death in the last century in today's urban societies, in this chapter we will take a new look at the concept of marginalization. Also, by using the ethnographic method and fieldwork notes within the hospital spaces, from a physician with an anthropological background, we will explain the socio-cultural dimensions of death in medical spaces. Accordingly, we will discuss various factors that shape a new account to the embodiment in Intensive care units during the pandemic. The hospitalized death, in fact, enforces the urban life and modern lifestyle to vanish and suspend death as a normal fact in the human life course. Death Hospitalization, which in the last century has practically emptied the urban space of death and dying, and institutionalized the neglect of death in urban families. Purification of the death space has been done in the direction of medicalizing the death space. We will theorize this process of marginalization by taking a phenomenological approach to hospital bodies and critical care subjects as well as the semiotics of hospital clothing and signs. And finally, we will see that how technologic death and panopticon ICU architecture accentuated the power in the biomedical discourse which eventually transforms modern hospital wards as the margins of invisibility, especially in terms of death and dying.

Additionally, Bahmanzadegan JahromI has three other projects related to COVID: The first is related to Shame, Stigma, and Heroism among Healthcare workers amid COVID-19. The second is about Faceless Doctors: A Novel Patient-Physician Relationship in the Covid Era. The last one is Decentralized Circles: Medical Rounds Altered & Dehumanized.


Translational Perspective

Potentially it combines different disciplines like death studies, humanities, anthropology, and social sciences related to biomedicine.

Contact Infomation: First name
Contact Information: Last name
Bahmanzadegan Jahromi
Contact Information: Position title
Research Fellow, Doctor of Medicine
Contact Information: Institutional affiliation
Shiraz University of Medical Sciences
Contact Information: Email address
jahromimh [at]

Shiraz, Iran