Kalima (Kali) Carrigan is a PhD candidate at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), affiliated with the program group Political Sociology: Power, Place and Difference. She joined the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences and the University of Amsterdam in July 2018. Before joining the UvA, Kali Carrigan was an M.A student at the Center for Semiotics, in the School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University (Denmark), where she wrote her M.A (honours) thesis on Meanings of Death: Symbols, Images, Language in the contemporary West. Before that, she completed a B.A in Psychology at Concordia University (Canada), and a B.Sc in Genetics in Trinity College Dublin. Her interest has always been on the limits of life. As a geneticist, Kali Carrigan worked on the genes controlling life, death, and longevity, first at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics (Trinity College Dublin) under the supervision of Prof. Kevin Devine, and later as a researcher at the Institute of Molecular Medicine (IMM), St James’ Hospital Dublin. In 2015, she worked as a palliative care counsellor at St Mary's hospital in Montréal, Canada.
At present, Kali’s PhD project focuses on the question of choice at the end of life, the conditions under which choosing death can be justified, and how the discourse of choice is changing the way we die in the ‘West’ today. As part of her PhD, she will carry out a three-tiered study following the trajectory of European suicide tourists ‘choosing to die’ in Switzerland. In the first part, she will explore the broad discourse of choice by looking at the ways in which the newspaper media constructs suicide tourism, as well as the cultural frames employed by the media to represent and reproduce suicide tourism as a growing social trend. In the second part, she will address the institutional context in which the choice to travel to Switzerland to die is made, particularly as a means to make manifest the suitability and desirability of other available options for people navigating the end of life. Lastly, she will carry out in-depth, semi-structured interviews with persons planning to seek an assisted suicide in Switzerland in order to scrutinize the lived reality of suicide tourists, and the negotiation of the choice to die abroad. In this last section, the existential and psychosocial dimensions of choosing to die will be of particular interest. She hopes that by studying the negotiation of choice in suicide tourists, a richer understanding of the debate over the need for legalization of assisted suicide in Europe, as well as comparisons between the lived experience of choice at the end of life, and the expectations of health policy and the media to construct individuals as rational agents may arise.
This project has been awarded full-time funding by the Fonds de Recherche du Québec – Société et Culture (2018-2022)
Choice, suicide tourism, end-of-life care, death and dying, semiotics, meaning-making strategies, longevity, existentialism
Carrigan, K. (2019). To see Zurich and then die... representations of suicide tourism in the European media. Paper presented at the DDD14 conference, hosted by the Center for Death and Society, University of Bath, Bath, U.K.