The cultural politics of migrant and minority deathscapes in the United Kingdom

Authors: Danny McNally*, University of Reading, Brenda Mathijssen*, University of Reading, Yasminah Beebeejaun*, The Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, Avril Maddrell*, University of Reading , Katie McClymont, University of the West of England, Bristol
Topics: Political Geography, Cultural Geography, Migration
Keywords: Deathscapes, Cultural Politics, Migration, Cemeteries, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Studio 5, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper investigates how the diverse practices of bodily disposal, mourning and remembrance found within the UK’s multicultural society can be respected, enhanced and planned for. The geopolitics of migration and the rights and requirements of migrants are especially topical in contemporary UK and European contexts. However, there is limited consideration of this in relation to death. While sites of bodily disposal and practices of mourning and remembrance are universal, they are negotiated, practiced and ritualised in diverse ways within multicultural societies. Those facing death, professionally or personally, are confronted with the limits of stretching, interpreting and redefining (prescribed) practices (Hüsken & Neubert 2011). This also has an impact on the sites that are involved, such as crematoria and cemeteries. How are dead bodies made and shaped across differences, and what are the emotional-affective impacts of this (Ahmed 2004; Maddrell 2016)? Drawing on case studies of cultural and religious practices within England and Wales, we highlight the cultural politics of diversity in cemeteries and crematoria. In doing so, we argue that diversity-ready sites are a social, cultural and political necessity for an inclusive and integrated multicultural society.

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