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Duncan Sayer

This chapter describes the physical organisation of early Anglo-Saxon cemetery space by detailing the repertoire of shared semiotics used to organise a cemetery, specifically: cemetery topography, clusters of graves or burial plots, grave density, grave orientation, burial rituals and material culture. It also considers cemeteries which combine multiple organisational strategies. Introduction: structuring mortuary semiotics Cemeteries are not simply places where people bury the dead; they are the product of social agents working within the confines of

in Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries
Open Access (free)
Burying the victims of Europe’s border in a Tunisian coastal town
Valentina Zagaria

The Mediterranean Sea has recently become the deadliest of borders for illegalised travellers. The victims of the European Union’s liquid border are also found near North African shores. The question of how and where to bury these unknown persons has recently come to the fore in Zarzis, a coastal town in south-east Tunisia. Everyone involved in these burials – the coastguards, doctors, Red Crescent volunteers, municipality employees – agree that what they are doing is ‘wrong’. It is neither dignified nor respectful to the dead, as the land used as a cemetery is an old waste dump, and customary attitudes towards the dead are difficult to realise. This article will first trace how this situation developed, despite the psychological discomfort of all those affected. It will then explore how the work of care and dignity emerges within this institutional chain, and what this may tell us about what constitutes the concept of the human.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Abstract only
Daniel Foliard

commentators. But it is not uncommon to come across a photograph or two in these private archives that depict the grave of a friend who had died in battle or of fever. Prints were regularly sent to the family back in France or Britain to give a realistic idea of the soldier’s resting place. In the absence of monuments to those who had died in distant wars – actually quite rare outside the colonies themselves before 1914 – these photographs acted as paper cemeteries that helped survivors and relatives to mourn their dead

in The violence of colonial photography
Duncan Sayer

Introduction The dead aren’t dead until the living have recorded their deaths in narratives. Death is a matter of archives. You are dead when stories are told about you, and when only stories are told about you (Lyotard and Benjamin, 1989 : 126) Today, ancient cemeteries are being rediscovered underneath rural landscapes, on the edges of ancient boundaries, or buried in the heart of villages and towns. But early medieval cemeteries were not forgotten places set aside for the dead, they were ancient repositories, archives where the dead and their

in Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries
Kinship, community and identity
Author:

Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries are well-known because of their rich grave goods, but this wealth can obscure their importance as local phenomena and the product of pluralistic multi-generational communities. This book explores over one hundred early Anglo-Saxon and some Merovingian cemeteries and aims to understand them using a multi-dimensional methodology. The performance of mortuary drama was a physical communication and so needed syntax and semantics. This local knowledge was used to negotiate the arrangement of cemetery spaces and to construct the stories that were told within them. For some families the emphasis of a mortuary ritual was on reinforcing and reproducing family narratives, but this was only one technique used to arrange cemetery space. This book offers an alternative way to explore the horizontal organisation of cemeteries from a holistic perspective. Each chapter builds on the last, using visual aesthetics, leitmotifs, spatial statistics, grave orientation, density of burial, mortuary ritual, grave goods, grave robbing, barrows, integral structures, skeletal trauma, stature, gender and age to build a detailed picture of complex mortuary spaces. This approach places community at the forefront of interpretation because people used and reused cemetery spaces and these people chose to emphasise different characteristics of the deceased because of their own attitudes, lifeways and lived experiences. This book will appeal to scholars of Anglo-Saxon studies and will also be of value to archaeologists interested in mortuary spaces, communities and social differentiation because it proposes a way to move beyond grave goods in the discussion of complex social identities.

Tradition and modernity in rural North Yorkshire
Author:

This book reviews the burial history of central North Yorkshire. In exploring the social history of burial in rural areas, the book aims to encompass some of the principles underpinning 'l'histoire des mentalites'. The book considers the issue of churchyard closure. Churchyard closure generally signalled that burial space was made available elsewhere, and in most cases before 1894 this meant that the churchyard itself had been extended. The book reviews the incidence of churchyard extension, which was commonplace during the nineteenth century. The Burial Acts introduced legislation that permitted vestries to establish burial boards, which could raise loans repayable through the rates to fund the laying out of new cemeteries. In central North Riding, a total of eighteen burial boards were in operation before 1894, and the book reviews in detail the operation of the ten largest boards in that group. The Burial Acts maintained and even strengthened the hold of the Church of England on burial space, by substantially increasing the amount of consecrated land under its control. The book also addresses the contention that the new legislative context for burial in the twentieth century might then introduce the opportunity for a substantial centralisation of burial provision. Finally, the book reviews the pattern of burial provision in 2007 compared with 1850, and concludes that there is evidence of both continuity and change.

Greer Vanderbyl
,
John Albanese
, and
Hugo F. V. Cardoso

The sourcing of cadavers for North American skeletal reference collections occurred immediately after death and targeted the poor and marginalised. In Europe, collections sourced bodies that were buried and unclaimed after some time in cemeteries with no perpetual care mandate, and may have also targeted the underprivileged. The relationship between socio-economic status (SES) and abandonment was examined in a sample of unclaimed remains (603 adults and 98 children) collected from cemeteries in the city of Lisbon, Portugal, that were incorporated in a collection. Results demonstrate that low SES individuals are not more likely to be abandoned nor to be incorporated in the collection than higher SES individuals. Furthermore, historical data indicate that the poorest were not incorporated into the collection, because of burial practices. Although the accumulation of collections in North America was facilitated by structural violence that targeted the poor and marginalised, this phenomenon seems largely absent in the Lisbon collection.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Jacques Gerstenkorn

This article describes the powerplay around the recent discovery (summer 2015) of eighteenth-century Jewish graves in the French city of Lyon. Prior to the French Revolution, Jews had no right to have their own cemeteries, and the corpses of the deceased were buried in the basement of the local catholic hospital, the Hôtel- Dieu. In recent years this centrally located building was completely renovated and converted into a retail complex selling luxury brands. The discovery and subsequent identification of the graves – and of some human remains – led to a complex confrontation between various actors: archaeologists, employed either by the municipality or by the state; religious authorities (mostly Lyons chief rabbi); the municipality itself; the private construction companies involved; direct descendants of some of the Jews buried in the hospital‘s basement; as well as the local media. The question of what to do with the graves took centre stage, and while exhumations were favoured by both archaeologists and the representatives of the families, the chief rabbi – supported by the construction companies – proved reluctant to exhume, for religious reasons. In the first part of his article the author details the origins of this Jewish funerary place and current knowledge about it. He then goes on to analyse what was at stake in the long negotiations, arguing that the memory of the Holocaust played a role in the attitude of many of the parties involved. By way of conclusion he considers the decision not to exhume the graves and elaborates on the reasons why this led to some dissatisfaction.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Jonathan Chatwin

I did not have time to linger long above the city. I was on my way to Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery, China’s national burial ground and the resting place of the founding fathers of China’s Communist Revolution. On an earlier attempted visit, I had been refused entry at the gate by an overzealous teenage guard. Pressed for an explanation, he had simply observed ‘ Ni shi waiguoren ’ – ‘You’re a foreigner’ – and walked back to his hut, apparently seeing no need for further explanation. Though I knew

in Long Peace Street
Open Access (free)
Pandemic and management of dead bodies in Brazil
Liliana Sanjurjo
,
Desirée Azevedo
, and
Larissa Nadai

This article analyses the management of bodies in Brazil within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its objective is to examine how the confluence of underreporting, inequality and alterations in the forms of classifying and managing bodies has produced a political practice that aims at the mass infection of the living and the quick disposal of the dead. We first present the factors involved in the process of underreporting of the disease and its effects on state registration and regulation of bodies. Our analysis then turns to the cemetery to problematise the dynamics through which inequality and racism are re-actualised and become central aspects of the management of the pandemic in Brazil. We will focus not only on the policies of managing bodies adopted during the pandemic but also on those associated with other historical periods, examining continuities and ruptures, as well as their relationship to long-term processes.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal