Centre for Death & Society

On encountering corpses: political, socio-economic and cultural aspects of contemporary encounters with dead bodies


Principal Investigator: Craig Young, Manchester Metropolitan Univeristy (MMU)

Co-Investigators: Dr John Troyer (Bath), Prof Douglas Davies (Durham), Dr Trish Green (Hull), Dr Phillip Stone (UCLAN), Dr Duncan Sayer (UCLAN), Dr Julie Seymour (Hull), Dr Julie Rugg (York)

Funder: ESRC, Seminar series 

Dates: 01 October 2014 - 30 September 2017

Project rationale and aims

This seminar series aims to critically explore various forms of contemporary encounters with the dead body to develop theoretical perspectives and draw out the policy and practitioner implications for managing and regulating dealing with the dead.

Given that human remains are encountered in a wide range of spaces (funerary, medical, faith based, commercial, media, virtual), the series aims to cover a spectrum of the key types of encounters and to assess the views of a range of people involved with the disposal, management and regulation, and representation of the dead.The seminar topics will cover: 

  • theological perspectives on the dead body
  • 'dark toursim' involving human remains 
  • the international trade in body parts
  • 'green' burial
  • the ethics of archaeological excavation and public participation
  • the mobilities of the dead and the politics of identity
  • diaspora
  • bodily disposal and nation
  • issues surrounding the donation of bodies to medical schools.

The series will feature a strong international component, with speakers drawn from across Europe and North America, and a range of engagement with 'end-users' from both the public and private sectors. 

Bath will convene the 6th seminar in the series, ‘New forms of disposal and the global trade in post-mortem body parts’ and will look in particular at the different kinds of technologies, regulation and markets that make this global trade possible. 

Project outputs and impacts

The multi-disciplinary nature of the discussions is reflected in the breadth of academic dissemination and engagement proposed, including: 

  • Eight one day seminars hosted by each of the co-investiagtors
  • A final two-day event
  • A dedicated seminar series website hosting first details, then summaries, key conclusions and presentations from each seminar.
  • Blog posts from 
  • An edited volume which will be  landmark publication in its field and inclusion in it will provide the academics involved with a clear international identity in this area
  • A series of journal articles focussing on cross-cutting themes which run throughout the semianr series

The project will connect academics from a range of disciplines with practitioners, policy makers and the general public, and it is hoped that this series will both foster dialogue and advance debates in this area. 

Find out more about this project

Name: Mrs Caron Staley
Title: Institute Manager
Department: Dept of Computer Science
Location: Virgil Building 3.28
E-mail: c.staley@bath.ac.uk
Phone: work+44 (0) 1225 386275