Dr Jonathan Skinner awarded the Ed Bruner Book prize by the American Anthropological Association’s Anthropology of Tourism Interest Group

  • Friday, November 13, 2020

On Sunday 1st November 2020, Dr Jonathan Skinner from the University of Roehampton’s Department of Life Sciences was awarded the Ed Bruner Book prize, along with his co-editor Professor Adam Kaul of Augustana College, for their timely edited volume Leisure & Death: Lively Encounters with Risk, Death, and Dying.

Image - Dr Jonathan Skinner awarded the Ed Bruner Book prize by the American Anthropological Association’s Anthropology of Tourism Interest Group

The 330-page book features a collection of the best anthropologist writers on the topic of leisure and death from around the world, and an extensive review and introduction on the place of leisure in society its relationship with death before the COVID-19 pandemic. Preceding this award, the book received an accolade of summer reading recommendations on US Public Radio.

The volume specifically examines how leisure practices are used to meditate upon life. It considers travellers who seek enjoyment but encounter death and dying, tourists who accidentally face their own mortality while on holiday, those who intentionally seek out pleasure activities that pertain to mortality and risk, and those who use everyday leisure practices like social media or dog-walking to cope with death. Chapters explore the Cliffs of Moher - not only one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland but also one of the most well-known suicide destinations, as well as the estimated 30 million active posthumous Facebook profiles being repurposed through proxy users and transformed by continued engagement with the living. From the respectful to the fascinated, from the macabre to the morbid, contributors consider how people deliberately, or unexpectedly, negotiate the borderlands of the living.

The book prize committee stated, “Skinner and Kaul's work was a novel approach to an under-considered theoretical intersection that challenges assumptions about what constitutes ‘leisure’ and was aptly framed by the editors' introduction and Fernandez's epilogue. A truly significant contribution to the anthropology of tourism.”

Reviews have said:

“Leisure and Death opens up important new connections and lays the ground for further work to be done on this topic . . . an evocative, compelling collection.”
—Fiona Murphy, Dublin City University

“A truly exciting book that will make a significant contribution to both death studies and the study of leisure and tourism.”
—Arnar Árnason, University of Aberdeen

"This volume should be of keen interest to scholars of death, religion, tourism, sports, and digital worlds. . . By taking seriously people’s desire to explore their own relationship with death through recreational pursuits—death in and through play—it offers readers a rich reflection on their own mortality."

Dr Skinner also noted that the Epilogue is written by Professor Jim Fernandez of the University of Chicago, who examined Dr Skinner’s PhD thesis 23 years ago. The award is also a tribute to Cyril Schafer, who sadly passed away while writing his chapter, and Ed Bruner who passed away this summer.

The full list of contributors is Kathleen M. Adams, Michael Arnold, Jane Desmond, Keith Egan, Maribeth Erb, James Fernandez, Martin Gibbs, Rachel Horner-Brackett, Shingo Iitaka, Tamara Kohn, Patrick Laviolette, Ruth McManus, James Meese, Bjorn Nansen, Stravoula Pipyrou, Hannah Rumble and Cyril Schafer.

The book is available for purchase, and there currently is a 50% publishers discount for e-copies with the code LD2020: https://upcolorado.com/university-press-of-colorado/item/3333-leisure-and-death