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Religions 2018, 9(3), 87;

The Crossroads of Plastination and Pilgrimage

Department of Arts and Communication, University of the Philippines Manila, Padre Faura Street 1000 Metro Manila, Philippines
Received: 28 February 2018 / Revised: 14 March 2018 / Accepted: 14 March 2018 / Published: 18 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacred Journeys: Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage)
PDF [236 KB, uploaded 3 May 2018]


At the Singapore Science Centre in 2010, I went to Body Worlds, an exhibit set up by the Institute for Plastination, founded by Gunther von Hagens. As I later learned, he pioneered plastination—the art, science, and technique of preserving entire bodies and body parts for use in medical and anatomical research, exhibition, or both. A few months after, I made the decision to donate my body after death to the Institute under arrangements similar to that of a Living Will. In my visits to two other Body World exhibits in Germany and the Netherlands, I have seen organs perfectly preserved and had thoughts occur to me that one day, I may well be an exhibit specimen instead of an exhibit attendee. By establishing a connection with existing pilgrimage literature; and using a combination of thick description and pragmatic analyses; this paper puts forward the proposition that visits to these; and other similar; exhibits constitute a pilgrimage of and to the self. The paper also discusses the ethics and practical consequences of body donation; and evaluates the arguments for and against the body donation decision from the lenses of the person making the donation; the person’s significant others; and societal influencers. The paper concludes by suggesting take-off points in discussing the connection between plastination and pilgrimage; particularly in the contexts of intercultural communication and religious studies. View Full-Text
Keywords: Plastination; pilgrimage; self-discovery; death; thanatology; ethics; exhibits; living will Plastination; pilgrimage; self-discovery; death; thanatology; ethics; exhibits; living will
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Co SY SU, C. The Crossroads of Plastination and Pilgrimage. Religions 2018, 9, 87.

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