Cookies

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University Centre for Death and Life Studies

Archive

2017

CREMATION AND BURIAL

COMMUNICATION AND EDUCATION (CBCE 2017)

BURSARY APPLICATION INVITATION

One of the objects of the Cremation Society is to advance public education in the practice and ethics of cremation. To this end it invites applications from individuals for bursaries of £528.00 being the delegate’s fee for the Cremation and Burial Communication and Education 2017 event being held on 3rd, 4th and 5th July at the Stratford Manor Hotel, Warwick Road, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 0PY.

The event is arranged by the Cremation Society and the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities.

Bursaries will cover the event fee which includes 2 nights’ accommodation. Individuals will be expected to meet their own travelling costs to and from the event headquarters.

Persons awarded bursaries will be required to attend all working sessions. Applicants must not presently work or have held a position within the cremation industry for at least the last 12 months.

Those awarded bursaries will be given one year’s subscription to the Society’s quarterly journal Pharos International in which many of the presentations are reproduced. They will also be given the opportunity to contribute an article.

Further event details can be accessed at www.cbce.org.uk and past years’ conference programmes can be viewed on the Society’s website www.cremation.org.uk.

Applicants should write to The Secretary, The Cremation Society of Great Britain, Brecon House (1st Floor), 16 Albion Place, Maidstone, Kent ME14 5DZ, or e-mail info@cremation.org.uk, with their CV and an explanation of why they would like to attend CBCE 2017. The Society’s decision on whether or not to grant a bursary is final.

The closing date for receipt of applications is Friday 12th May 2017.

The National Memorial Arboretum. A talk by David Childs, CBE.

Friday, 4th March (5:00pm – 6:30 pm), ER145

Following a career in the Royal Navy, David Childs left in 1993 to found both the Leonard Cheshire Centre for Conflict Recovery, at University College London Hospital, and The National Memorial Arboretum on a 150 acre reclaimed gravel pit at Alrewas in Staffordshire. Planting began at the latter in 1993 with the site being opened in 2001 at which time it was adjudged to be the most popular Millennium project based on the number of individuals and groups who had given it their support. The creation of the Armed Forces' Memorial at the centre of the Arboretum, where those killed on active service since the end of the Second World are remembered, has raised visitor numbers to over 300,000 per year and the Arboretum is now recognized as the nation's centre for year round remembrance.

In 2003 David left to join the Mary Rose Trust for three years with responsibility for the creation its new museum. He is the author of five books: The Warship Mary Rose, Tudor Sea Power, Invading America, Pirate Nation and Growing Remembrance, the story of the National Memorial Arboretum. He was appointed CBE in 2003.

Prof. Douglas Davies has a new book, Mors Britannica: Lifestyle and Death-Style in Britain Today (Oxford University Press 2015).

http://global.oup.com/academic/product/mors-britannica-9780199644971?q=mors%20britannica&lang=en&cc=gb

Visiting Scholar Prof. Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme

The Tomb as Communicative Space in early Judaism and Early Christianity: Project Presentation

Thursday, 18th February (5:00pm – 7:00pm), ER157

The purpose of this project is to investigate the tomb as a place of communication in an early Jewish and Christian context, focusing on funerary inscriptions and graffiti as well as funerary rites and practices. It is hoped that the project, by demonstrating the importance of the tomb as communicative space, will yield a fuller understanding of the social world and world view of the early Jews and Christians.

The theoretical basis for the investigation rests on three notions, which have gained substantial support in recent years within the fields of archaeology and social anthropology; first, archaeologists have argued that the social spheres connected with certain archaeological contexts such as ‘funerary,’ ‘cultic,’ and ‘domestic’ are to a very large extent overlapping and that for instance a funerary context is more socially significant than what is generally assumed.

Secondly, and along the same lines, anthropologists are emphasizing the ‘social existence’ of the corpse and the agency of the deceased in the social world. The dead are increasingly described as significant actors in the world of the living and thus the tomb becomes an important locus for social interaction – both between the living and the living and the dead.

Finally, recent developments in ritual studies have brought about a focus on rituals as actions. This provides us with the theoretical implements to view ritual as a category of actions that structurally mirror social actions, but with the one significant difference that the receiver of the action is a so called ‘counterintuitive being,’ such as a deity, a demon or a deceased family member.

The combination of these three theoretical strands allows us to interpret the tomb as a social arena and as a communicative space, where a corporeal engagement and social exchange between the living and the dead takes place and where memory is strategically created. The mode of action in this space is ritual, which we are informed of by architecture, artefacts, inscriptions and literary sources.

The project is part of a larger investigation of the roles played by ritual in the emergence of early Christian religion.
Please visit the project’s website here: http://blogs.helsinki.fi/ritual-earlychristianity/

Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme, Professor (with special responsibilities) of Biblical Studies, University of Copenhagen, and University Researcher, Helsinki University

2015

Upcoming Conferences

International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR) XXI World Congress

23rd-29th August, Erfurt, Germany

The Director of the Centre of Death and Life Studies, Prof. Douglas Davies, and Advisory Board member David Eaton will be presenting papers as part of an international Panel at the 21st World Congress of the IAHR. Together with Prof. Ikezawa (Director of the Centre of Life Studies and Practical Ethics, Tokyo University), and Prof. Tomizawa (Dept. of Religious Studies, Tokyo University), they shall present the 'Death and Life Studies and Religiosity' Panel at the University of Erfurt, Germany.

More information on the IAHR's XXI World Congress can be found on their website, here.

Recent Debates

House of Commons Hosts Memorial Debate

On March 12th 2015 Prof. Douglas Davies was invited to speak at a debate hosted at the House of Commons on behalf of the Memorial Awareness Board and National Association of Memorial Masons. The motion was, 'This House believes that Local Authorities should not compete commercially against their council tax and rate payers'. This topic relates to the Localism Act of 2011 which allows Local Authorities, if they so wished, to engage in the provision of, amongst other things, gravestone memorials.

This new option is of obvious interest to Memorial Masons and Funeral Directors who are the usual sources of memorials. A very lively debate ensued amongst the sixty or so funeral and memorial professionals present, as well as a small representation of Local Authorities. Prof. Davies had been asked to oppose this motion and was thanked by many for taking on that position which allowed the debate to air many deeply held views. It is very likely that these issues will be taken up with new Members of Parliament after the 2015 General Election.

2014

Recent Activities: 2014 in Retrospect

Continuing Projects

The 'Invisible Dead' and the Development of Early Human Beliefs about the Body

A project of the Department of Anthropology at Durham University, the 'Invisible Dead' is co-investigated by Prof. Douglas Davies, Director of the Centre for Death and Life Studies, and Advisory Board member Prof. Charlotte Roberts. Initiated in 2013 and continuing through 2014, through examining archaeological data from Britain and the Levant, the project continued to provide new understandings of the emergence of religious belief and self-awareness, as well as charting changing concepts of what it means to be human.

For further information about this on-going project, please visit the website here.

Conferences

First International Death Online Research Symposium

Jointly hosted by the the Death Online Research Network and the Centre for Death and Life Studies, the symposium welcomed speakers and guests from Australia, Norway, Sweden, The Netherlands, Estonia, France, Israel, the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The keynote speakers were Prof. Douglas Davies (Director of the Centre for Death and Life Studies), and Prof. Tony Walters (Director of the Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath), and presentation topics ranged from new ways of grieving through social media, to problems related to the inheritance of digital property.

For more information and a full list of the papers presented, visit the Death Online Research Network's website here.

Seeing Beyond in Facing Death: Spirituality from Sick Body to Salvation- Contents, Care and Relationships in Different Cultures

Hosted in Pauda, Italy September 25th-27th, and made possible by the support of the ESRC, Seeing Beyond was an international and multi-disciplinary conference which explored the cultural processes of dying and death representations, and analysed the different ways culture impacts care for the dying. Papers were delievered by two members of the Centre of Death and Life Studies: Its Director, Prof. Douglas Davies, and Advisory Board member Dr. Eunbo Shin.

With contributors from the fields of medicine, psychology, sociology, philosophy, anthropology and religious studies to name a few, the conference presented state-of-the-art studies and reponses to the question of the meaning of death and how its dealt with, focusing on the spiritual dimension and how it intervenes in care practices.

Seminars

Encountering Corposes Today

This one-day seminar, funded by the ESRC as part of its Research Seminar Series programme, facilitated a multi-disciplinary exploration of death and disposel both in the UK and Europe. Presentations included: 'Care for Families and Loved Ones', from Bobby Hopkin-Hoggarth, North East Regional Manager of Co-operative Funeral Care, 'An Accidental Vocation', from Jenny Uzzell, an Independent Funeral Director, and 'The Ritual Cleansing of the Deceased: How Muslims Ritualise Death in a Migration Context', from Dr Claudia Venhorst, Dept. Comparative Religion, Radbout University, Holland.

The seminar was introduced by Prof. Douglas Davies, and was the first of an on-going series.

For more information on any of the events of 2014, please visit the archives here.

Conversations

High and Uplifted: The Poetry of Woodbine Willie and the Philosophy of Albert Schweitzer

A joint venture between the Centre for Death and Life Studies and St. Chad's College, the event witnessed a conversation between the poetry and experiences of Father Geoffrey 'Woodbine Willie' Studdert Kennedy, one of the best-loved Chaplains of World War I, and the philosophy of Albert Schweitzer: a German theologian, organist, philosopher, physician and medical missionary, awarded the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on his philosophy of 'Reverence for Life'. The evening featured readings from the work of both figures, and discussion led by Prof. Douglas Davies, and St. Chad's College Chaplain Dr Ashley Wilson.

Continuing Projects

A project of the Department of Anthropology at Durham University, the 'Invisible Dead' is co-investigated by Prof. Douglas Davies, Director of the Centre for Death and Life Studies, and Advisory Board member Prof. Charlotte Roberts. Initiated in 2013 and continuing through 2014, through examining archaeological data from Britain and the Levant, the project continued to provide new understandings of the emergence of religious belief and self-awareness, as well as charting changing concepts of what it means to be human. Explored are issues of the temporal, social and economic contexts of changing relationships between human soci-religious beliefs and concepts of the body and the afterlife. Do burials represented in the archaeological record of Britain and the Levant constitute the 'mainstream' or are they the result of highly specific selection processes?

For further information about this on-going project, please visit the website here.

Conferences

First International Death Online Research Symposium

April 9th - 10th, 2014

Hosted by the Death Online Research Network and the Centre for Death and Life Studies Durham University, UK
As digital media have become an integral part of our everyday life, so have also death and our afterlife become inextricably interwoven with technology. Marking the formation of an international research network within the field, the first Death Online Research Symposium focused on current research into the digital mediation of dying, death, mourning and personal legacy, in order to explore and discuss how online connectivity is changing how, when and where we engage with death.
Keynote speakers at the symposium were Professor Tony Walters (Director of the Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath) and Professor Douglas Davies (Director of the Centre for Death and Life Studies, Durham University).
The symposium included presentations of research within the following areas: memorial sites online; explorations of new ways of grieving though social media; the use of digital technologies in graveyards, woodland burial grounds and crematoria; the deaths of fictional and gaming characters; the discussion of problems related to the digital afterlife and the inheritance of digital property; and other perspectives on the impact digital technology has had on everyday practices in the context of death and mourning in the 21st century.
You can find more information on the conference website here, with the symposium programme found here.

Seeing beyond in facing death: Spirituality from sick body to salvation – Contents, care and relationships in different cultures

September 25-27, 2014 - Padova (Pauda) Italy

“Seeing beyond” was an international multi-disciplinary conference which explored the cultural processes of dying and death representations, analyzing the different ways culture impacts care for the dying. Over the past few decades, scholarship in the End-of-Life field has increased dramatically. “Seeing beyond” sought to develop dialogue amongst the different perspectives that explore and analyze the interrelations and interactions between death, as well as the different cultural viewpoints of spirituality.

“Seeing beyond” saw submissions that produced conversations engaging in medical, psychological, philosophical, religious, sociological, historical, ethnographic, normative, literary, anthropological, artistic and political terms that elaborated a relationship between death, spirituality, care-cure and culture.

Since the scientific research in this field is widely developed, “Seeing beyond” presented a state of the art study and responses to the question about the meaning of death and how to deal with it, focusing on the spiritual dimension and how it intervenes in care practices. Because Western society is now increasingly multiethnic and multireligious, “Seeing beyond” assumed different Weltanschauungen within which the spiritual dimension is considered crucial; showing the anthropologically vital and complex intertwining between medical-psychological and philosophical-spiritual approaches toward death.

Seminars

Encountering Corpses Today
December 18th, 2014

Hosted by the Centre for Death and Life studies, Durham University, UK

Funded by the ESRC, as part of the ESRC Research Seminar Series programme

Examining changes in the ways we confront corpses in the 21st century, this multidisciplinary exploration of death and disposal featured discussions led by academics and practitioners, encouraging a dialogue between theory and practice.

The seminar featured presentations on:

Care for families and loved ones, from Bobby Hopkin-Hoggarth of Co-operative Funeral Care,

The ritual cleansing of the deceased: how Muslims ritualise death in a migration context, from Claudia Venhorst, Dept. Comparative Religion, Radbout University, Holland, and,

An Accidental Vocation, from Jenny Uzzell, Dept. Theology and Religious Studies, Durham.

The seminar was the beginning of an on-going series, and was introduced by the Centre's Director, Prof Douglas Davies, Dept. Theology and Religious Studies, Durham.


Conversations

High and Uplifted: The Poetry of Woodbine Willie and the Philosophy of Albert Schweitzer.
Friday 21st November, 7-8pm, Williams Library, St.Chad's College.

A joint venture between the Centre for Death & Life Studies, and St. Chad’s College.

As a contribution towards the nation’s WWI commemorations, ‘High and Lifted Up’ was a conversation between the poetry and experiences of Father Geoffrey ‘Woodbine Willie’ Studdert Kennedy, one of the best-loved Chaplains of World War I, and the philosophy of Albert Schweitzer: a German theologian, organist, philosopher, physician and medical missionary in Africa, awarded the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on his philosophy of ‘Reverence for Life’.

The evening featured readings from the work of both figures, and discussion was led by the Director of the Centre for Death and Life Studies, Prof Douglas Davies, and St. Chad’s College Chaplain, Dr Ashley Wilson.

2011

Cremation in Scotland

The Cremation in Scotland Project is now drawing to its close and a major book on the material is currently being preapred for publication. Members of the project team have given numerous papers in UK, France, and Romania over the last year, they also made a significant contribution to the DDD10 Conference at Nijmegen.Funded by the Leverhulme Trust this three year project (2008-2011) is strongly interdisciplinary. Led by Professor Davies and Prof. Hilary Grainger (University of the Arts, London) the research team includes the Revd Dr Peter Jupp and Mr. Stephen White as Research Fellows and Mr Gordon Raeburn who is working for his doctorate. Together the team has been exploring the social and religious history of Scotland as the medium within which cremation emerged. Prof. Grainger has a special interest in the architectural history of Scotland's crematoria, Mr White in legal aspects of cremation and burial, Mr Raeburn in the theology of death in Scotland at and after the Reformation, Dr Jupp in the historical dynamics of the process of funerary change, and Prof Davies in its ritual and symbolic aspects and in the interdisciplinary nature of the project itself.

Research leave

In summer term 2011 Prof. Davies was given research leave held as a Visiting Research Fellow at the Collegium Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Helsinki. There he continued work on the joint volume with Dr Hannah Rumbe on woodland burial and contemporary funeral rites in the UK, to be published by Continuum in 2012. He took part in a variety of research seminars and also showed the film Earth to Earth: Woodland Burial and The Church of England to the Scandinavian Thanatological Association, Helsinki University's Department of Anthropology, and to a local Helsinki circle of interested parties. He was able to meet leading figures in Finland's palliative care world. In November 2011 Prof davies will return to give a plenary lecture at a conference hosted by the Collegium as part of its ongoing programme on death studies.

News

Prof. Davies was an invited Research Fellow at the Collegium, Helsinki University's Institute for Advanced Studies, from April-June 2011 giving papers at the Collegium, at Helsinki's Department of Anthropology, and at the Scandinavian Thanatological Association's Annual Conference.

Publications 

A further output of the Centre is Identity and Religion: Hope, Reciprocity, and Otherness. Published by Oxford University Press (2011). This study is one outcome of an AHRC Network Award on Emotions held at the Department by Prof. Davies. It offers an extensive interdisciplinary and interplaying study of the themes evident in its title and subtitle. It exemplifies the 'Life' aspect of the title of our Centre for Death and life Studies. It is also hoped that a further book on emotions and religious dynamics, a collection of papers derived from the Emotions' Network Award, will be published later in 2012. 

Film

While in Finland Dr Davies made use of the film 'Woodland Burial and the Church of England'. Made by Sarah Thomas, following an idea of Dr Hannah Rumble, this innovative film was funded both by The Centre for Death and Life Studies and Durham University's Wolfson Research Institute. It builds upon the collaborative Doctoral Award won by the department from the AHRC-ESRC's Religion and Society Programme, held by Hannah Rumble. The film is increasingly popular. In 2011, for example, Woodland Burial' has been shown both within and beyond the academic world, e.g. at the 10th international Conference on Death, Dying and Disposal (DDD10) at Nijmegen, Holland; in Italy at Turin's Cinemambiente Environmental Film Festival; the London Funeral Exhibition; and at the 2011 Cambridge Film Festival. Other requests continue to flow in. When shown at the 2011 Association of Natural Burial Grounds Conference it was described as the first "considered, none sensationalist coverage of what we do".

 

2010

Woodland Burial

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council's Religion and Society programme this Collaborative Doctoral Award focused on developments in woodland burial in general with a special focus of The Arbory Trust and its Barton Glebe site near Cambridgeshire. The Project ran for three years from October 2007 -2010 with Ms Hannah Rumble, B.A., M.A (Distinction) as the primary researcher. She successfully completed her doctoral examination in December 2010. Her thesis is accessible

Part of this research, along with furether research and analysis will be published in 2012 in a joint volume with Prof. Douglas Davies dealing with woodland burial and other aspects of contemporary funeral rites in Britain. 

Film

During late 2010 the Centre commissioned a film on its woodland burial project. Funded both by the Centre and Durham University's Wolfson Research Institute this film Earth to Earth: Natural Burial and The Church of England was made by a former Durham University graduate Sarah Thomas, now an ethnographic film-maker. This has been shown at a variety of public events, including the 2011 Open Day at Barton Glebe Woodland Burial site, with many of the people appearing in the film being present at the day. It has alos been selected for inclusion in a variety of film festivals including, for example, Turin and Cambridge, and has been shown at academic seminars in Helsinki and Nijmegen, as well as at training days for clergy at St George's House Windsor Castle and Cuddesdon Theological College. 

 

2009

Conference: Death, Dying and Disposal (DDD9 and DDD10)

The ninth meeting of the Death Dying and Disposal Conference (DDD9) was hosted by the Centre at Durham September 9th - 12th 2009 with approximetaly 200 delegates, forty percent of them from outside the UK. The Book of Abstracts edited by Douglas J. Davies and James Jirtle is published as Volume 14 Supplement to the journal Mortality September 2009. A book of selected papers on the topic of Emotions, Death and Identity is to be published in 2011.

The Tenth DDD Conference was held in September 9th-11th 2011 at The Centre for Thanatology Radbout University Nijmegen. It included the showing of the film Earth to Earth: Natural Burial and The Church of England . Both of these spoke to the film which was given a second showing by popular request. Members of the Centre's Cremation in Scotland team (see below) also made a significant contribution to this conference by presenting a panel on this Leverhulme funded project.

 

2008

Death and British Funerals

Funded by the ecumenical, Churches Group for Funerals, Profs Douglas Davies and Prof. Tony Walter (of Bath University's Centre for Death and Society CDAS) completed and presented to that Group in summer 2008 a preliminary report on contemporary aspects of death and funerary rites in England and Wales.