The UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is funding a Research Seminar Series which runs 2014-17. Eight seminars consider a variety of contemporary encounters with dead bodies in various contexts including the politics of (re-)burial, trade in body parts, commodifying dead bodies in dark tourism, body donation to medicine, diaspora and bodily disposal, the ethics of excavation, ‘green’ burial and theological perspectives on the dead body. There will be a concluding two-day conference to bring together the themes explored. The events take different forms, principally seminars and presentations but also include other public events. National and international speakers are involved including academics and professionals and practitioners. These seminars are open to various degrees (please contact the seminar organiser for details).

The project is lead by Professor Craig Young in the School of Science and the Environment at Manchester Metropolitan University and the project partners are: Dr Julie Rugg, Cemetery Research Group, University of York; Professor Douglas Davies, Centre for Death and Life Studies, Durham University; Dr John Troyer, Centre for Death & Society, University of Bath; Dr Philip Stone, Institute for Dark Tourism Research, University of Central Lancashire; Dr Duncan Sayer, School of Forensic and Investigative Science, University of Central Lancashire; Dr Julie Seymour and Dr Trish Green, Centre for Health and Population Sciences, Hull York Medical School, University of Hull.

Details of forthcoming seminars (more details will be published as they are organised):

Seminars 2016-17:

7. Dreams and Death Worlds (2017). Convenor: Prof. Douglas Davies ( Venue: Centre for Death and Life Studies, Durham University. Date 7th April 2017.

8. Encountering and re-encountering the donated body. Convenors: Dr Julie Seymour (, Dr Trish Green ( Venue: Hull York Medical School (HYMS), University of Hull. Date 9th November 2017.

Free tickets and registration at:

This one day seminar presents social science research on health professionals and their work with dead bodies. It focuses on the identity-management and emotional labour they carry out with other practitioners and family members.The research covers a range of medical contexts including body donation for medical research, visual technologies in foetal and neonatal autopsy and the end of life planning and post death memorialisation of transgender people. It will be of interest to applied health researchers, medical sociologists and anthropologists, family researchers and those researching death, dying and bereavement.

Provisional programme 

9.30-10.00 Coffee and Registration

10.00-10.20 Welcome and Introductions – Prof. Craig Young (ESRC Seminar Series Convenor), Dr Trish Green and Dr Julie Seymour, HYMS, Prof Julie Jomeen, Faulty of Health Sciences, University of Hull

10.20-10.40 Preparing a donated body for medical research – Martin Walter, HYMS Mortuary Manager

10.40-11.00 Medical Students’ first encounters with a corpse – Dr Peter Bazira, SL Clinical Anatomy and HTA Designated Individual

11.00-11.15 Master’s student on their experience in the anatomy lab

11.15-11.30 Coffee

11.30-11.50 Family liaison work post body donation – Zivarna Murphy, HYMS doctoral student

11.50-12.10 Social media responses to a documentary on donation – Chaitra Dinesh/Julie Seymour

12.10-12.40 General Discussion

12.45-1.30 Lunch

1.30-2.10 ‘Sometimes you cry with them’: emotional labour around ‘the edge’ of life and death- the case of fetal and neonatal post-mortem – Dr Kate Reed, Dr Julie Ellis and Dr Elspeth Whitby, University of Sheffield

2.10-2.50 Social identity of the transgender corpse in end of life planning and post-death – Dr Louis Bailey, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Hull.

2.50-3.30 Natural burial – Dr Andy Clayden, University of Sheffield and Dr Trish Green, Hull York Medical School

3.30-4.00 General discussion and close


This event is followed at 7.30 pm by a free Hull City of Culture event ‘Re-encountering Those we have Lost’.

Lecture Theatre 1, Allam Medical Building, University of Hull

This evening of poetry and performance on loss, memory and memorialisation features award-winning poet Christopher Reid, and “A Salt Circle” a performance based on cillíníi (the burial grounds of unbaptised children) by Zoë Uí Fhaoláin.

Free admission – all welcome. Booking essential.

**Requires separate booking, details via this link:


9. Encountering Corpses III/final conference (2017). Convenor: Prof. Craig Young ( Venue: Manchester Metropolitan University. Date now 8-9th December 2017.

Completed seminars 2015-16:

4. Dead Body Politics, Materialities and Mobilities

Organised by Professor Craig Young (School of Science and the Environment, Manchester Metropolitan University) and Dr Jon Shute (School of Law, University of Manchester)

Venue: 70 Oxford Street, Manchester. Friday 18th March, 2016, 1.00pm – 4.30pm

This event was followed by a screening of Earth Promised Sky (2003) at 6.00pm – 7.30pmThis documentary focuses on the exhumation of mass graves and the identification of remains from the Bosnian War. Tickets are free and available here:

Mobilities etc.

5. The dead body and technology. Convenor: Dr John Troyer ( Venue: Centre for Death and Society, Bath. Date 27th May 2016.

6. ‘Packaging up’ corpses for the contemporary visitor economy. Convenor: Dr Philip Stone ( Venue: Institute for Dark Tourism Research (iDTR), UCLAN. Date 19th October 2016.

Completed seminars 2014-15:

1. Body and soul: resurrection and soul as cultural motifs. Convenor: Prof. Douglas Davies. Venue: Centre for Death and Life Studies, Durham University.

2. Diaspora, faith and bodily disposal. Convenor: Dr Julie Rugg. Venue: Cemetery Research Group, University of York.

3. Archaeologists speak through the dead – excavating and encountering human remains. Convenor: Dr Duncan Sayer. Venue: School of Forensic and Investigative Science, UCLan.

Read about Professor Young’s success in winning an ESRC Research Seminar Series award here.