2001 volume 33(5) pages 799 – 821

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Brown M, Colton T, 2001, "Dying epistemologies: an analysis of home death and its critique" Environment and Planning A 33(5) 799 – 821

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Dying epistemologies: an analysis of home death and its critique

Michael Brown, Travis Colton

Received 1 October 2000; in revised form 3 January 2001

Abstract. Within the debate between medical and health geographers there are often calls for methodological and philosophical conciliation. The purpose of this paper is to detail some of the epistemological difficulties in ever achieving that aim. We do so by offering a foundational scientific analysis of home death in Washington State, and then turning to a postmedical deconstruction of that scholarship within the space of a single paper. Although the result is a reflexive self-critical paper on how we know the geography of home death, it is by no means a resolution of the debate. A key epistemological impasse is identified between the foundationalism in our quantitative analysis and our poststructural critique. This impasse leads to different and irreconcilable aims between the two halves of the paper. In our reflections we stress the need to recognize explicitly this epistemological irreconcilability in order to temper the promise of an easy solution to the debate between medical and health geography. We nevertheless suggest that scholarly, ethical, and political insights can be gained from this project.

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