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University of Bath

Encountering corpses

This seminar series critically explored the political, socio-economic and cultural aspects of contemporary encounters with dead bodies.

This seminar series sought 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 aimed 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 covered:

  • theological perspectives on the dead body
  • dark tourism, 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 featured 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 convened the 6th seminar in the series, ‘New forms of disposal and the global trade in post-mortem body parts’ and looked 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 was reflected in the breadth of academic dissemination and engagement, including:

The project connected academics from a range of disciplines with practitioners, policy makers and the general public, and fostered dialogue and advanced debates in this area.

Project team


This seminar series was funded by ESRC.