PhD opportunity ‘Where is death in “Dark Tourism”‘

Please note a competitive PhD opportunity is being advertised at Manchester Metropolitan University on the topic of:

Where is death in ‘Dark Tourism’? Exploring tourists’ relationships with mortality at sites of death and disaster

Further details of the project and how to apply can be found via the link below.

Deadline is 21st March 2016.

http://www2.mmu.ac.uk/research/research-study/scholarships/2016/where-is-death-in-dark-tourism-exploring-tourists-relationships-with-mortality-at-sites-of-death-and-disaster.php

 

SEVENTEENTH COLLOQUIUM ON CEMETERIES University of York, United Kingdom, Friday 20th May, 2016

SEVENTEENTH COLLOQUIUM ON CEMETERIES

University of York, United Kingdom, Friday 20th May, 2016

This event takes place in York every year and comprises a day meeting of scholars with an interest in cemeteries and burial. The event is open to all disciplines, and past papers have represented research by historians, art historians, sociologists, anthropologists, historical archaeologists, landscape designers and architects, conservators and policy analysts. The Colloquium often draws international speakers. A key aspect of the Colloquium is its informality: a focus on debate makes this a highly valuable forum in which to present new and emerging research.

Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be sent to julie.rugg@york.ac.uk. Please ensure that the abstract is in Word format. Any queries about the event should in the first instance be directed by email to the address given.

Note that this year two postgraduate bursaries will be available to cover the cost of the conference fee only. Please send a letter of application to julie.rugg@york.ac.uk

The deadline for abstracts is 18th April 2016, although earlier confirmation may be available for international visitors.

cfp Geographies of loss, grief and carrying on: the nexus of death, diversity and resilience

RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016, London, August 30-September 2, 2016

Session sponsorship: Social and Cultural Geography Research Group (SCGRG) and Geographies of Health and Wellbeing (GHWRG)

Session Conveners: Avril Maddrell (UWE), Charlotte Kenten (GOSH), Katie McClymont (UWE), Olivia Stevenson (Glasgow/UCL)

Building on a growing body of work on geographies of death, dying and remembrance (e.g. Evans 2014; Maddrell and Sidaway 2010; Stevenson et al 2016, Social and Cultural Geography), these sessions will explore the spatial dimensions of social, cultural, material and immaterial complexities of the nexus of human and non-human life-death, absence-presence, grieving-consolation.

Papers are invited from Geography, History, Planning, Design and related areas which are attentive to difference and diversity (Global South/ North, gender, class, ethnicity, sexuality, age) and address critically-engaged, theoretical, empirical and methodological issues, including:

  • The physical, emotional, spiritual and virtual spaces and practices of living-dying, including life-shortening illnesses, suicide, survival, remembrance and consolation
  • Discursive and material spaces and boundaries of grievability, including non-human loss
  • Intersections of time-space in practices and performances of loss and resilience
  • Inclusive and exclusive deathscapes and practices
  • Policy and planning needs and responses in diverse and multicultural societies
  • Research methodologies, ethics and researcher care and resilience

If you are interested in giving a paper, please submit a title and 200 word abstract for consideration to o.stevenson@ucl.ac.uk by noon February 10th.

‘Making a Place for the Dead’

Professor Young spoke about ‘Making a Place for the Dead’ as part of Humanities in Public 2015/16. Humanities in Public is festival of diverse events all year round at MMU.

Professor Craig Young (Centre) Inaugural Lecture, Introduced by Prof. Professor Berthold Schoene with respondent Professor Douglas James Davies (Left)

Professor Craig Young (Centre) Inaugural Lecture, Introduced by Prof. Professor Berthold Schoene with respondent Professor Douglas James Davies (Left)

By Lucy Simpson

For most, the concept of the dead as ‘present’ and mobile, rather than absent and static, is something reserved to the confines of horror films. However, Professor Craig Young took confrontations with corpses out of the realms of fantasy and into Manchester at his lecture at MMU on Monday 28th September.

Professor Craig Young’s lecture kicked off the new festival programme in true Humanities in Public style as he engaged with multidisciplinary persppectives of contemporary encounters with corpses, in a talk that had something for everyone. He addressed the unearthing of buried history (quite literally) with the reburial of Richard III, alternative burial methods, and students’ responses to seeing and dealing with images of dead bodies in the classroom, remembering a time when he was almost in tears in front of a third year class.

With increasing focus on dead bodies in museums, popular culture, and ‘dark tourism’, Professor Craig Young argued that acknowledging that the dead are “objects who continue to engage, influence, confine, or structure other social agents” is a step forward. By dealing with the social, cultural, and political implications of encounters with the dead, Craig encouraged his audience to consider what is respectable and acceptable treatment of dead bodies.

Craig’s previous work with ‘Encountering Corpses’ and ‘The Bone Ages’ has increased public discourse surrounding issues of ‘death politics’. This was made possible by his success in winning an ESRC Research Seminar Series award of £30,000 to fund a three-year project of events at MMU surrounding contemporary encounters with corpses. This will continue with ‘Encountering Corpses II’ next year.

By placing many of his previous events in museums and cemeteries, Craig forces us to address our engagement with dead bodies and question our responses. He discussed theological objections and prohibitions against burial at sea, for fear of the returning body, making it clear how the deceased still have their own materiality and mobility.

Earlier this year, the body of Richard III was dug up from its original site under a council carpark and moved to Leicester Cathedral for reburial. Even 500 years after his death, York and Leicester both claimed Richard’s body should be theirs, so they could benefit from the increase in tourist trade.

With ongoing commodification of the dead, are we becoming scarily close to forgetting that these bodies were actually once ‘human’? And with death and processes of mourning being placed more and more in the public sphere with roadside shrines, forensic TV dramas, and images of dead refugees and migrants saturating the media, is seeing and dealing with dead bodies on a daily basis being increasingly normal? Questions of ethicality and economic gain in relation to dead bodies are only becoming more and more relevant. Inescapably, the lifeless influence the living.

The treatment, consideration, and conceptualisation of dead bodies is something Dr Young has been working with for years. His interest was inspired by his study of the mobilities of communist corpses in Romania, including leaders and activists, such as Petru Groza. He displays an ongoing interest in how the dead body is a subject of ‘dead body politics’ but also how it the lifeless still have agency in their own right.

At the end of his talk, Craig assessed his own mission, reflecting that maybe engaging with death in the same way we engage with life is an “impossible task”. Accepting death is against our basic survival instincts. However, he certainly made a space for the dead in the heads of his attendees on Monday evening, who said it had made them consider what they wanted to happen to their own body after death and even “opened their eyes to what death is, also perhaps the ‘beauty’ in death”. Craig will continue to make a space for them, outside of the burial ground, and in contemporary discourse.

‘Encountering Corpses II’ 2016 now announced and tickets available!

I am delighted to be able to announce that we have finalised the programme for the next Encountering Corpses day symposia on Saturday 19th March 2016.

This event, open to all, will discuss the dead body in relation to the mobilities and economies of their parts. Our first panel will discuss organ donation, organ trafficking and how medical students interact with donated corpses. Our plenary will advocate for public access to human remains for education and emotional edification. Finally, we will address encounters with corpses in terms of cultural and subcultural practices: the dead bodies on Everest and how these relate to the culture of mountaineering, the concentration in contemporary media on the physicality of the celebrity dead body in the immediate minutes, hours and days after death, and the historical and contemporary practices around the preservation of tattooed human skin.

Book your £15 ticket for the event which will be held at Manchester Crematorium (constructed 1892)

Book your £15 ticket for the event which will be held at Manchester Crematorium (constructed 1892)

Also incorporated in the day will be tours of the Manchester Crematorium ‘back office’ facilities, and a visit to the Greater Manchester Police social centre for lunch.

Further details and a full draft schedule can be found here on the blog and over on Eventbrite where you can book your £15 ticket.

Based on the demand for the 2014 event we would expect this to sell out fairly rapidly!

CFP: Corpses, Cadavers and Catalogues: The Mobilities of Dead Bodies and Body Parts, Past and Present

CFP: Deadline 15th Jan 2016

CFP: Corpses, Cadavers and Catalogues: The Mobilities of Dead Bodies and Body Parts, Past and Present

May 17th-18th May 2016

Venue: Barts Pathology Museum and the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, London

Organisers: Kristin Hussey (QMUL) and Sarah Morton (Keble College, Oxford)

Advisory Panel: Dr. Tim Brown (QMUL) and Dr. Beth Greenhough (Keble College, Oxford)

Deadline for Abstracts: January 15th, 2016

An interest in the dead body, and particularly its shifting meanings, mobility and agency can be seen in recent works of museology, geography and history of medicine (Hallam, 2007; Maddrell and Sidaway, 2010; Alberti, 2011; Young and Light, 2013). The biographies of human remains held by museums have been an area of considerable interest for medical museums dealing with their Victorian inheritance. The process by which pathological specimens or samples transform from intimate relics of life to scientific data has been explored by social historians of medicine, anthropologists and archaeologists (Boston et al., 2008; Fontein et al., 2010; Withycombe, 2015). There remains, however, little discussion across these disciplines as well as need to further explore the movement of the dead body, both in the past and present, in order to consider broader questions of power, imperialism and globalisation.

From the repatriation of contentious human remains to the controversial and fascinating body-world exhibits, dead body parts circulate in multiple ways through museum spaces past and present. This two-day interdisciplinary conference will bring together museum professionals and academics to foster a productive dialogue on the movement of the dead body and the social, ethical and political challenges it presents. In contrast to the breadth of current research on the movement of the living, the subject of the dead body will be used to bridge the divide between the work of museum professionals and academics to promote the museum as a site for research, and develop new connections and networks.

Through this conference, we hope to use the dead body as a starting point for opening up wider debates on embodied knowledge, materiality and meaning-making, the role of the body in structures of inequality, and the challenges of colonial remains in a postcolonial world. We hope these two days will bring together diverse speakers from across disciplines to consider how bodies and body parts have informed their research and professional practice. We welcome papers from PhD students, early career researchers and heritage professionals, as well as works in progress.

Potential topics include but are not limited to:

* Meanings of different body parts in historical and temporal contexts

* The curation, display, and provenance of medical museum specimens

* The materialities of colonialism and politics of repatriation

* Human remains and the practice of medical history

* Provenance and interpretation of morbid and pathological specimens

* Corpse geographies, body biographies and the creation of embodied knowledge

* Ethics of human remains research and display

To submit a paper proposal, please send an email with a 250-word abstract and a short (100 word) biography to cccConference2016@gmail.com by January 15th 2016. Successful applicants will be contacted by early February 2015 and be expected to register by 1 March 2016 for the conference held 17-18 May.

For further information or informal questions about possible topics, please contact the conference organisers via : cccConference2016@gmail.com.

Corpses, Cadavers and Catalogues is a collaboration between Queen Mary University of London, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, Barts Pathology Museum, and is funded by the Wellcome Trust Small Grants programme.

‘Marginal death research: doing edgework’ event

Very interesting event at University of York, UK next week 2nd December 2015:

https://www.york.ac.uk/sociology/about/news-and-events/department/2015/death-conference/marginaldeathresearch/#tab-1

Abstract

There is a sustained western cultural fascination with death, dying, dead bodies and wounds that includes, but is not limited to film, television, artwork, music and literature making death one of the most fertile areas to conduct research. Yet, despite this prevalence of morbidity and death representation within everyday culture it remains overshadowed by the broader death studies research framework that focuses on policy and law – the practicalities of dealing with death, the dying and the dead. Through the topic of death, this symposium seeks to bring together research which is conducted across a range of disciplines but which is often swept to the edges of death studies due to its cultural nature. It seeks to provide a platform for researchers to present and discuss their death edgework conducted in social science, the arts and humanities and contribute to the growing network of researchers engaging with death in unconventional ways.

09:30 – 17:30 Wednesday 2nd December 2015 – The Lakehouse, Heslington East Campus, University of York.

Encountering Corpses

“Across cultures and time, the corpse has been a source of fascination for the living. Today, the dead body has never been a more intriguing, important subject for scholars, public policy officials, the mass media, and the general public. The human corpse, and its social meanings and how it should be valued, discussed, disposed of, imaged, and used, is a critical subject, generating public debate, enormous media attention, and corporate interest.” (Foltyn 2008: 100).

American academic Jacque Lynn Foltyn neatly captures the focus of this blog – in what ways do we increasingly encounter corpses in contemporary society, and in what socio-cultural, political, economic and environmental contexts does this occur? How is the dead body a subject but also a powerful and active agent playing a role in shaping social relations within these contexts? These issues have long been of concern within various ‘death industries’ and professions but are increasingly the subject of academic enquiry and popular engagement.

As Foltyn (2008: 104) intriguingly concludes:

“Relic, museum exhibit, dissection spectacle, ‘‘other,’’ site of ethnic and religious identities, organ/tissue donor, monster, sex object, porn star, infotainment, funeral icon, ‘data trash’, clone precursor, simulation or real, dead bodies are maps of power and identity. In the twenty-first century, the corpse in contemporary culture is all of these things and more.”

That’s what this blog seeks to explore. I look forward to it!

Foltyn’s paper is: Foltyn, J.L. (2008) The corpse in contemporary culture: identifying, transacting, and recoding the dead body in the twenty-first century. Mortality 13: 99–104.

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