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Burying the dead in times of pandemic
Diane O’Donoghue

Both historical and contemporary records of mass contagion provide occasions for visibility to persons who otherwise remain little recognised and even less studied: those who bury the dead. While global reports attest to self-advocacy among cemetery workers in the current COVID-19 pandemic, the psychological complexities of their labour go virtually unseen. Findings on the experiences of those doing such work reveal a striking contrast. While societal disavowal often renders their task as abject and forgettable, those who inter the remains frequently report affective connections to the dead that powerfully, and poignantly, undermine this erasure. Acknowledging such empathic relationality allows us to look at this profession in areas where it has never been considered, such as psychoanalytic work on ‘mentalisation’ or in contemporary ethics. The article concludes with an example from the accounts of those who have buried the dead in the massed graves on New York’s Hart Island.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
John Shepherd

wondered: ‘what would the men of Tolpuddle have said [about the gravediggers]? My own anger increased when I learned that the Home Secretary, Merlyn Rees, had called upon Alan Fisher, the General Secretary of NUPE, to use his influence to get the [Merseyside] gravediggers to go back to work, and Fisher refused.’39 In Parliament, Peter Shore’s statement on this industrial dispute revealed that, by 2 February, the Liverpool cemetery workers had agreed on a return to work. The shadow Minister for the Environment, Michael Heseltine, however, raised the point that ‘other

in Crisis? What crisis?
Forensics in the aftermath of the Second World War
Taline Garibian

discussing the exhumations carried out in Argentina, he notes, ‘These initial exhumations … were haphazard efforts, as the forensic authorities and cemetery workers who conducted them had little knowledge of the appropriate archaeological and anthropological techniques of exhumations. For the most part, they destroyed more evidence than they recovered.’ 21 Thus, the ‘forensic

in Forensic cultures in modern Europe
Open Access (free)
Integrating historical and archaeological evidence for reproduction in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries
Elizabeth Craig-Atkins
Mary E. Fissell

's wife had given birth to a stillborn child and the father was preparing its grave; a midwife testified that the baby had been born dead prematurely, and thus the case was not about concealing an infanticide as authorities had feared ( The Newcastle Courant etc , Friday 23 May 1851). Perhaps many other such tiny graves were dug that did not excite concern. Rich textual evidence shows that midwives were the crucial figures involved in solving the problem of disposing of a perinatal body, often in alliance with sextons or cemetery workers. The latter

in The material body