Death, Dying, Bereavement and Technologies in the 21 Century

CFP: Death, Dying, Bereavement and Technologies in the 21 Century

BSA Social Aspects of Death, Dying and Bereavement Study Group Annual Symposium

Friday 2 December 2016, University of Sheffield


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Before I Die: A festival for the living about dying


University of York

Part of a growing social movement to reflect on how we manage death and dying, by providing space and opportunities to talk and discuss end-of-life issues as individuals and as a society. Our festival is part of a network of events across the UK for national ‘Dying Awareness’ week.



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The Seventeenth Colloquium on Cemeteries will take place at the University of York on Friday, 20th May. This day event comprises an informal meeting of researchers in all disciplines with an interest in burial places, and a particular focus is placed on new and emerging research. Postgraduates are particularly welcome.

Please email Dr Julie Rugg for further information at:

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Digital Death

A plug for research by Stacey Pitsillides on Digital Death.

Her videos on ‘Avatar Ashes’, ‘Memorial Tweets’ and ‘The Digital Foundation of Archaeology’  raise significant issues for the future of human and other-than-human death, posthumous legacy and online memorialisation. She can be contacted via Twitter @RestInPixels.

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A Will for the Woods

A plug for a great feature documentary: A Will for the Woods. 

Synopsis: Determined that his last act will be a gift to the planet, musician and psychiatrist Clark Wang prepares for his own green burial.

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Assisted Dying Panel Debate podcast from Bristol Museum as part of its ‘Death: The Human Experience’ exhibition

Here are some timings to make this Bristol Museum debate more coherent:

0:00:00 Noise while people are waiting for the debate to start!

0:21:00 Lisa Graves (Exhibition Curator)

0:24:20 Richard Huxtable (Chair – Prof of Medical Ethics and Law, University of Bristol)

0:34:00 Lesley Close (Accompanied her brother to Dignitas in 2003)

0:52:30 Silvan Luley (Dignitas)

1:11:10 Katherine Sleeman (Clinical Lecturer in Palliative care, Kings College, London)

1:21:30 Havi Carel (Professor of Philosophy, University of Bristol)

1:30:15 John Troyer (Director Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath)

YouTube Preview Image

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Decomposition: materials and images in time

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I am co-convening a panel at the next ASA conference – to be held in Durham (UK) later this year – with Elizabeth Hallam on ‘decomposition’. The call for papers is currently open and we welcome submissions from all fields of anthropology. If you are interested you can read more and submit your abstract here.

Panel Abstract:

Decomposition is essential to life. Yet, relegated to the realm of the ‘organic’, it has remained in the background of anthropological studies. This panel will explore decomposition as a significant material, cultural and social process. We are interested in how matter transforms, how things fall apart, how interactions and relationships disintegrate. How do humans within their environments experience, perceive and deal with various modes of decomposition including, for example, decay, erosion, fading, dissolution. What is entailed in acts of damage and destruction, in break-ups and breakdowns? What happens when there is collapse, demolition or ruination?

Perceptions of decomposition are often extreme; it has been seen as intensely beautiful, for instance, or as vile and abject. Associated with death and/or loss, it is also defined as problematic in contexts that value preservation, stability and boundedness. Yet decomposition is due further anthropological probing to examine how this process unfolds, inheres, or is activated within everyday practices such as, for example, eating, making, healing, creating, recycling, remembering and forgetting. In what ways does decomposition animate, drive, enable, release or impede? How does it acquire meanings, whether positive or negative?

Building on studies of decomposition as generative (Küchler 2001, DeSilvey 2006), and as a form of analysis – involving taking apart to reveal the inside – (Strathern, 1992), this panel opens wide-ranging discussion of decomposition in terms of its substance, meaning and sociality, as well as its dynamics and temporal dimensions. Papers are invited from any area of anthropology including material, visual, medical and biological.


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