Eventbrite link now available here for the next ESRC Seminar: Medical encounters with the corpse: social identities and emotional labour

Hull, 9th November 2017.

You do need to register but tickets are free at this link:


Medical Encounters with the Corpse: Managing Social Identities and Emotional Labour

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.

The event is free but requires registration. It will be of interest to applied health researchers, medical sociologists and anthropologists, family researchers and those researching death, dying and bereavement.

The seminar is part of the ESRC Research Seminar Series on ‘Encountering Corpses: political, socio-economic and cultural aspects of contemporary encounters with dead bodies’ (https://encounteringcorpses.wordpress.com/). The series aimsto enhance understandings of social attitudes and practices with regard to the dead body in a range of situations and to explore the implications for policy-making and practice. In numerous contexts the seminars are aimed at generating a better understanding of public attitudes in order to ensure that the dead are dealt with sensitively and in an ethical way.

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.

Please visit www.culturenet.co.uk to book your free ticket for this evening event.



Next ESRC Encountering Corpses Seminar “Medical Encounters with the Corpse: Managing Social Identities and Emotional Labour”, Hull, Thursday 9th November 2017

Please note that this event is free to attend but does require registration – **further information will follow about ticketing and registration – please watch this space!**

Next ESRC Encountering Corpses Seminar

Provisional programme 

“Medical Encounters with the Corpse: Managing Social Identities and Emotional Labour”

9.30am – 4pm, Thursday 9th November 2017, Allam Medical Building, University of Hull, Hull York Medical School (HYMS)


Introduction –  Dean of HYMS Medical School, Dr Julie Seymour and Dr Trish Green, Prof. Craig Young

A themed session on the donated body in medical schools including talks by the mortuary manager, an anatomy lecturer and HTA designated individual, a  doctoral project, and Masters students on their experience in the anatomy lab, plus further research on social media responses to a documentary on donation.

Followed by a pre-lunch discussion session.




Kate Reed/Julie Ellis (Uni of Sheffield) on the MRI imaging of neonates project

Louis Bailey (HYMS) on social identity of the transgender corpse in end of life planning and post-death

More discussion




19.30-22.00  City of Culture poetry and performance event

Encountering Corpses blog and project site:


Professor Craig Young,
Professor of Human Geography.

Deputy Director, MMU Research Centre for Applied Social Sciences (RCASS).

Manchester Metropolitan University, School of Science and the Environment, Division of Geography and Environmental Management, John Dalton Building, Chester St., Manchester M1 5GD, UK.


Phone: +44-161-247-6198.

Staff webpages: http://www.egs.mmu.ac.uk/young.htm

Encountering Corpses blog and project site:


Next ESRC ‘Encountering Corpses’ seminar announced: ‘Dreams and Death Worlds’, Durham, 7th April 2017.

The next in the ESRC ‘Encountering Corpses’ seminar series will be held on the topic of ‘Dreams and Death Worlds’ on 7th April 2017 at Birley Room, Hatfield College, Durham University, UK. The programme is posted below.

Places at the seminar are free but are limited. If you wish to attend please send an email to Professor Craig Young at c.young@mmu.ac.uk stating your name and institution and status (eg. Professor, PhD student etc) and noting any dietary requirements.



09.30-09.40     Welcome – Douglas Davies, Department of Theology & Religion and Centre for Death-Life Studies, Durham University.

09.40-09.50     The ESRC ‘Encountering Corpses’ Research Seminar Series – Craig Young, Manchester Metropolitan University.

09.50-10.30     Dreaming of Death in Antiquity – George Gazis, Department of Classics, Durham University.

10.30-11.10     Encountering the Corpse of St Cuthbert – Seven moments across two millennia – David Williams, author of St Cuthbert’s Corpse – A Life After Death (under the penname David Willem).

 Coffee break

11.30-12.10     Death and territoriality: the ‘possible worlds’ of native Australian cultures and their ecological imperatives – Bob Layton, Department of Anthropology, Durham University.

12.10-12.50     Dreams, Death and Martyrs in Islam – Iain Edgar, Department of Anthropology, Durham University.


13.45-14.30     Joseph Smith’s visions of the dead and Mormonism’s Baptism for the dead – Douglas Davies, Department of Theology & Religion and Centre for Death-Life Studies, Durham University.

14.30-15.00     Open forum, questions and discussion.

15.00                   Close.



Death, Dying and Disposal 13. Ritual, Religion and Magic. Call for papers.

*Death, Dying and Disposal 13*. Ritual, Religion and Magic. Call for papers.

6th-10th September 2017, University of Central Lancashire, Preston.

In popular western culture the number 13 is often unlucky, evoking
superstition, or witches. Yet, there were 13 members of the last supper,
Friday the 13 is lucky in Italy and in Judaism it is the age for rites of
passage. The theme for this DDD is Ritual, Religion and Magic its
perception interpretation and role in healthcare, death, dying, and burial.
Individual papers might include, but are not restricted to: death
technology and magic, liminality, religion and spirituality in end of life
care, ethics and culture at the deathbed, dying inside (and outside) of
modern health care, spirituality and the death of animals, rites of passage
in dying, superstition and funerals, ritual application in preparing the
corpse and burying the dead. Emergent religious and cultural practices in
the disposal of the dead, ancestors online, Death, dying and grief in
public and on the internet. Talking with the dead, the dead in popular
horror, the dead in witchcraft execution or haunting or social rituals
associated with the dead body, spirituality or lifeways and deathways.

Please email titles and abstracts to Conference and Events
ConferenceAndEvents@uclan.ac.uk by February 28th 2017.

Abstracts should be no more than 250 words.

Contact dsayer@uclan.ac.uk or Elizabeth J Roberts EJRoberts@uclan.ac.uk for
enquiries. Tweet #DDD13 to start a trend, @DuncanSayer.

Next ESRC ‘Encountering Corpses’ seminar announced: “‘Packaging up Death & the Dead’ for the Contemporary Visitor Economy” – details

We are delighted to announce that the next of our ESRC-sponsored Research Seminars is now available.

It is on the theme of “‘Packaging up Death & the Dead’ for the Contemporary Visitor Economy”, organised by Dr Philip Stone (University of Central Lancashire, UK) and will be held at Lancaster Castle/HM Lancaster Prison (http://www.lancastercastle.com).

10.30am start on Wednesday 19th October 2016.

Please register if you wish to attend. Limited tickets are available at:


The programme and paper abstracts can also be viewed on the above link.

Here is the overview of what promises to be a fascinating day:

“This multi-disciplinary symposium, convened by Dr Philip Stone, invites speakers from the UK and USA to examine fundamental relationships of dark tourism – that is, travel to sites of death, disaster, or the seemingly macabre – with the cultural condition of contemporary society. Particularly, the symposium will critically explore how death and the dead are ‘packaged up’ or commodified for the contemporary global visitor economy, and the implications and consequences thereof.

The symposium is aimed at academics and teachers, undergraduate and postgraduate students, tourism and heritage industry professionals, museum curators, local government, as well as interested media.”

ESRC Seminar ‘The corpse, the dead body and technology’, 27th May 2016

The next seminar in the ESRC funded Research Seminar Series will be held at the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath on 27th May 2016, focusing on ‘The corpse, the dead body and technology’. Should be another stimulating day!

Limited tickets are available via Eventbrite here:




Manchester Met Encounters Corpses

This was originally published on the Humanity Hallows website.

By Daniel J Broadley

Following the success of the first instalment of ‘Encountering Corpses’ in 2014, Manchester Metropolitan University’s (Manchester Met) Humanities in Public (HiP) Festival has resurrected the event for an open discussion on all things to do with the dead.

This time, the event took place in the Manchester crematorium, HiP Festival Co-Ordinator, Helen Darby saying:

“It might sound gruesome to some but it isn’t about death, or not just death. A lot of brilliant work is being done around death and death acceptance.

1915651_10154101674937642_2859063105991575314_nThis work is about the materiality of the human body. Not that you will die, and your consciousness end or go elsewhere, but that your material will remain. This body, that you measure, chastise, build up, tattoo, feed, starve, neglect, take for granted, worship… It will be left, passive and alone, for others to take care of. Other hands will lift it, transport it and, ultimately, dispose of it.”

She added, “It is worth discussion and contemplation. Buddhists meditate on this and find a loss of ego. I find community and the importance of care. We carry each other, or we lie where we fall.”

Manchester Met Professor of Human Geography Craig Young opened the conference before introducing the first panel. Dr John Troyer, of the Centre for Death and Society and University of Bath, opened the first discussion by focusing on radical life extension through bio-material exchange. Or, in simpler terms, organ donation. This is a practice that was widely rejected in the 1950s but that has now become more accepted. With 3D printing an ever-growing technology, Dr Troyer says 3D printed organs may not be a fantasy for much longer. He then focused on aging and how Google are funding Calico, a project dedicated to slowing the aging process.

Dr Trish Green, of the Hull York Medical School, then took the floor to discuss anatomical bequeathal. This is the donation of the whole body, not just organs, for the purpose of medical research and education. Dr Julie, also of Hull York, elaborated on this by talking about the Medical School Anatomy Unit. She focused on the process new medical students go through when encountering their first body:

“There’s a focus on professionalism in their training. It’s done in a way that they recognise the body as a person but also being able to manage it as an object for their anatomical procedure.”

She went on to say that new medical students are told to treat their donated bodies as their first patient, therefore humanising their learning base.

After a quick lunch break, plenary speaker, Carla Valentine of the Barts Pathology Museum took to the stage. Carla studies the relationship between humans and human remains, from looking at medieval obsessions and Victorian experiments to modern sanitation.  Carla is a huge advocate for using human remains for education and research, a topic she explores in her Remains To Be Seen project.

She said, “There is something valuable about seeing human specimens. They can help us understand DSC_0011something we may not otherwise be able to understand. For example, the fractured skull of a child may help us understand child abuse.

I’m optimistic about public display becoming as open as it was in the 19th century.”

Carla went on to say we cannot make presumptions about people’s reactions to human specimens.  Some people, she said, would be outraged over human fetus specimens being put on display. However, she said she once met a woman who had had a miscarriage who was fascinated by them, her point being that we cannot dictate how people may or may not react to something, which is reflected in the government’s intention to soon regulate public displays.

Research Fellow from the University of Central Lancashire Dr Jonathan Westaway began the final part of the conference. He gave a presentation called ‘Mountain of Memory, Landscapes of Loss’ in which he discussed the lost bodies of climbers and mountaineers. It is estimated there are over 200 bodies on Mount Everest that may never be recovered.

Dr Ruth Penfold-Mounce, Lecturer in Sociology at the University of York, gave the penultimate talk. She spoke about how celebrities still live on after they die. For example, Michael Jackson still makes over a hundred million dollars a year. Forbes even have a separate top rich list for dead celebrities, topped by the likes of Jackson and Elvis. In addition to this, celebrities are also still owned, after they die, by The Authentic Brands Group. Audrey Hepburn is still in chocolate adverts, Marilyn Monroe is in Coca Cola ads and James Dean, from beyond the grave, is still advertising jeans. The final section of the presentation was about how celebrities are sometimes used as scapegoats, the public saying what they like about them, for example, regarding Heath Ledger and his prescription drug use.

DSC_0020The final speaker was Dr Gemma Angel of University of College London who spoke about the history and anthropology of the European tattoo and the medical museum collections of human remains.

The theme for the next strand of the Humanities in Public festival is ‘World’. For more information, click here.

ESRC Research Seminar: Dead Body Politics, Materialities and Mobilities

Professor Craig Young continues his ESRC Research Seminar Series on contemporary encounters with corpses.

Mobilities etc.The fourth seminar in this series, Dead Body Politics, Materialities and Mobilities, has been organised by Professor Craig Young of Human Geography at Manchester Metropolitan University and Dr Jon Shute, lecturer in the school of Law at University of Manchester.

The seminar will explore multi-disciplinary approaches to the dead body. Professor Young said: “The seminar will capture a range of responses to dead and associated material remains – by law academics, historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, geographers and artists”.

Young is interested in the intersection of place, landscape, history and memory and the politics of identity with regards to the dead body. A focus on corpses originally arose from Craig’s study of the mobilities of the dead bodies of Romanian Communist leaders and activists during state-socialism and post-socialism. He is interested in how the dead body is a subject of ‘dead body politics’ but also has agency in its own right.

Professor Young said: “This seminar in the ESRC Encountering Corpses research seminar series will focus on the politics of corpse (im-)mobilities and materialities. Dead bodies are usually thought of as ‘dead and buried’, static and immobile and removed from life, but this seminar will foreground how human remains persist and can provoke new formations of identity and politics”.

He explained: “How human remains move around (eg. are repatriated or exhumed and re-interred) and their materialities (what form they take, what remains and how it is viewed and regulated) can be central to processes of forming identity and politics. Understanding these processes can inform our understanding of genocide, the Holocaust and justice for the dead but also in seemingly more mundane spaces such as museums”.

Professor Young’s work has captured the public’s imagination, and his many public engagement events attract a high turn-out every year. Professor Young and Dr Shute’s shared aim is to make the physicality of the dead body something neither lost nor forgotten within public discourse, which focuses on the live body as a site of power and identity but largely ignores similar considerations after death.

They said: “We hope the audience will take away a renewed appreciation of the role the dead can play in the contested politics of repatriation, reconciliation, the post-colonial, museum curation and artistic representations.”


The series will continue into 2017. Details of future seminars can be found here.

Dead Body Politics, Materialities and Mobilities will take place on 18th March 2016, 1.00pm – 4.30pm at 70 Oxford Street. Tickets are free and available here: https://dead-body-politics.eventbrite.com

The seminar will be followed by a free film screening of ‘Earth Promised Sky’ (2003) at 6pm. Tickets are free and available here: https://earth-promised-sky.eventbrite.com