Cremation Stories is an interdisciplinary conversation exploring the boundaries between life and death, in the built environment. Speakers will include architects, academics, representative of the funeral industry and other creative practices.
This talk will be an opportunity to address the new challenges cities are currently facing with regards to distance and proximity between the living and the dead, and its consequences in the physical space of the city both with regards to their contemporary and historical context.
Historically cemeteries were located out of a city’s boundary walls for sanitary reasons. However, since the implementation of flame-based cremation, in the early 20th century, that relationship was redefined. Today, the lack of burial space and environmental questions are also challenging the limitations of flame-based cremation, and posing urgent questions on the future of the disposal of human remains. New technologies such as water-based cremation or other ethical ways of disposal, are currently challenging the boundaries between the living and the dead. Should these boundaries become more blurred? Or should they stay clearly defined?
Bios of Participating Speakers:
Dr Katie Deverell has a background in social science, research and product design and a long-standing interest in innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration. Her PhD research explored the construction of boundaries, space and identity; published as Sex, Work and Professionalism: Working in HIV/AIDS, Routledge (2001). Since 2010 she has worked as a ceremony designer helping to create and deliver many funerals. Her most recent publication, with Chantal Laws, is “Events management for the end of life: mortality, mourning and marginalisation”. She is a strategic member of Chelmsford Cultural Partnership and Visiting Lecturer on the MA Event Design and Management, University of Westminster.
Dr. Brian Parsons is co-author (with Hugh Meller) of London Cemeteries: An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer. He has researched and published extensively about the history of funeral service and cremation. The Honoured Dead: London Cemeteries in Old Photographs will be published by Strange Attractor during 2019.
David Phillips is the founder and CEO of Tenfields a start-up seeking to create innovative cemetery environments and new rituals for the end of life. His background is in academia, design and architecture. He has previously published books on domestic architecture and concrete.
Dr Julie Rugg is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of York, and since the 1980s has been working in the field of cemetery history and policy. She has published extensively on British funerary culture. Her most recent monographs include Churchyard and Cemetery: Tradition and Modernity in Rural North Yorkshire and (with Brian Parsons) Funerary Culture in England and Wales. She has international links with death scholars throughout Europe and hosts the annual International Cemeteries Colloquium in York.
About the venue:
Frederick W Paine is the town's oldest firm of funeral directors has conducted funerals from these premises since 1908. The original interior is Grade II listed. The building also contains the Frederick W Paine Museum and the firm's archive.
About the Organiser:
Dr. Gian Luca Amadei is a Visiting Researcher in the Department of Sociology at the University of York. His research interests lay at the intersection between architecture, urban planning, sociology and human geography. Gian Luca is currently working on a post-doctoral research proposal that investigates a shift into how cremation is witnessed through spatial design. Beyond his academic work Gian Luca is an internationally recognised design and architectural journalist and visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art.