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Funeral workers’ experience with ‘contagious corpses’
Silvia Romio

The extremely high death rates in northern Italy during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic called for exceptional rules and suspension of funeral practices and burial rites. Additionally, forms of collective burial, typical of a wartime scenario, and mechanical methods and timing were reintroduced into the handling of corpses. Although several academic studies have highlighted how the absence of funeral ceremonies and ‘dignified burials’ has caused prolonged and deep suffering for the mourners and for many of the caregivers and health workers, few have so far focused on funeral workers. This article focuses on the intimate, emotional and ethical experiences of a group of funeral workers in northern Italy who handled COVID corpses and had to take the place of the mourners at the time of burial. Through an anthropological analysis of their oral memories, this work attempts to analyse their expressions of discomfort, frustration, fear and suffering.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
Death, landscape and power among the Duha Tuvinians of northern Mongolia
Benedikte Møller Kristensen

3 The proper funeral: death, landscape and power among the Duha Tuvinians of northern Mongolia Benedikte Møller Kristensen The traditional funeral practice of the Duha reindeer nomads of northern Mongolia consists in placing corpses on the open ground in the wild forest (xer) to be eaten by wild animals. Under socialism, the Mongolian government issued a ban on open-air (il tavah) funerals and imposed compulsory burial of the dead in cemeteries (Delaplace 2006). This ban was a part of the Mongolian People’s Republic’s ‘dead-body politics’ (Verdery 1999) aimed

in Governing the dead
A sketch of a funerary ritual
Peter Robinson

3 The Manchester ‘funeral’ ostracon: a sketch of a funerary ritual Peter Robinson I am delighted to offer this contribution for Rosalie David. Rosalie was instrumental in transforming my boyhood interest in ‘mummies, tombs and pyramids’ into disciplined study, through attendance at some of her many inspiring public lectures, and on the Certificate in Egyptology course at the University of Manchester Extra-Mural Department. It was after one of these lectures that I ‘discovered’ the ostracon that is the subject of this chapter, in one of the side cabinets at

in Mummies, magic and medicine in ancient Egypt
James Doelman

Approximately 20 per cent of surviving funeral elegies written in the period 1603 to 1640 are on women. Of these, however, a higher percentage survive in single manuscripts, which suggests that they did not circulate as widely as those on male figures, and that many were part of a gift and honour culture that functioned within a more limited family circle. There were

in The daring muse of the early Stuart funeral elegy
Jose Manuel Varas Insunza

This article describes the operational practices of the city morgue in Santiago, Chile and their effects on the family members who come to claim the bodies of their loved ones. It explores the impact of the body‘s passage through the morgue on the observance of rituals surrounding death and mourning. An underlying conflict can be identified between the states partial appropriation of and interference with the body and intrinsic needs associated with the performance of funeral rites in accordance with cultural and religious precepts.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal

Based upon a wide reading of funeral elegies of the period 1603 to 1640, this book approaches the genre in a new way, first, by focusing on the dead individual and his or her immediate context, and secondly, by exploring how elegists move far beyond lament, commemoration, and consolation. With a daring unruliness, of both form and matter, these poems use the death as an opportunity for ethical reflection, political comment, and even satire. Under the power of grief, the poems digress into sharp criticism of individuals, the broader culture, centres of power and other institutions, and even the world itself. Each chapter focuses on the funeral elegies prompted by the death of one person or a group of similarly situated figures. The book explores a wide variety of elegies and offers roughly equal attention to print-based poems and those solely manuscript-circulated at the time. In the process, it explores the developing norms of the genre and its relationship to other commemorative forms, including the epitaph, funeral sermon, and funeral monument. It considers how the circumstances of a death challenge poets to adapt the rhetorical resources of the genre to unusual situations: the death of political prisoners or of a much-resented royal favourite, or death by suicide. In particular, the book focuses on the contentious funeral elegies that emerged during the intense political controversies of the 1620s. The study proceeds largely by using the terminology and understanding of genres/norms that were part of these texts themselves or their immediate reception.

Anne Byrne

2 The funeral of Louis XV, July 1774 Introduction The death of Louis XV ripped open the barely healed wounds of the Maupeou revolution. In 1771, the political landscape had abruptly changed with the replacement of the parlements and mass exile of their members. Opposition was vocal and public, included the highest nobles in the land, and had not disappeared by 1774. The funeral of Louis XV brought confrontation. This chapter examines the political background to the funeral rites of Louis XV. It provides a discussion of the relationship between the princes of the

in Death and the crown
David M. Bergeron

returned to St James’s Palace to offer directions about what needed to be done, starting with draping all the various chambers in black. Attendants brought in a coffin; ‘Threescore and tenne Gentlemen of his Servants … being appointed night and day to attend the same, tenne at a time’ (83). As the funeral day had been set for Monday 7 December, the prince’s servants moved the coffin into various chambers

in Shakespeare’s London 1613
Open Access (free)
The handling of the deceased during the COVID-19 pandemic, a case study in France and Switzerland
Gaëlle Clavandier
Marc-Antoine Berthod
Philippe Charrier
Martin Julier-Costes
, and
Veronica Pagnamenta

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an unprecedented global crisis. To limit the spread of the virus and the associated excess mortality, states and governing bodies have produced a series of regulations and recommendations from a health perspective. The funerary aspects of these directives have reconfigured not only the ways in which the process of dying can be accompanied, but also the management of dead bodies, impacting on the dying, their relatives and professionals in the sector. Since March 2020, the entire process of separation and farewell has been affected, giving rise to public debates about funeral restrictions and the implications for mourning. We carried out a study in France and Switzerland to measure the effects of this crisis, and in particular to explore whether it has involved a shift from a funerary approach to a strictly mortuary one. Have the practices that would normally be observed in non-pandemic times been irrevocably altered? Does this extend to all deaths? Has there been a switch to an exclusively technical handling? Are burial practices still respected? The results of the present study pertain to the ‘first wave’ of spring 2020 and focus on the practices of professionals working in the funeral sector.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Thomas Vaisset

On 25 September 1911 the battleship Liberté exploded in Toulon harbour. This tragedy is just one of the many disasters that the French fleet suffered at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries and also represents the peak of these calamities, since it is undoubtedly the most deadly suffered by a French Navy ship in peacetime. The aim of this article is to study how the navy managed this disaster and the resulting deaths of service personnel, which were all the more traumatic because the incident happened in France’s main military port and in circumstances that do not match the traditional forms of death at sea.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal