Illustrated lecture by John Troyer, Ph.D., Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath and Morbid Anatomy Scholar in Residence
Date: Wednesday, August 6
Admission: $8 (Tickets here)
Over 6,700 people die every day across the United States, roughly 4.5 people a minute. And unless you are a person who works in a profession connected to death, dying or dead bodies, chances are good that you rarely (if ever) see any of these 6,700+ human corpses and the postmortem technologies that absorb these bodies.
Since the mid-19th century, the first world, western corpse has been inextricably linked with industrial age human technology. Contemporary concerns about the ecologically sustainable dead body focus on transforming the funeral into a natural or green process. Indeed, as people become more and more interested in the environmental impacts of their daily lives, many individuals are asking: How ecologically sustainable is death? What are the environmental impacts associated with handling the dead body? More importantly, why are some final disposition methods considered green and others natural?
What the 21st century concept of natural burial really suggests is a 19th century pre-industrial age model that often misses the following point: Human disposition of the dead body, by whatever means, is a humanly invented practice. Humans digging graves to bury corpses is no less a humanly invented postmortem technology than alkaline hydrolysis.
The broader philosophical and conceptual point is that the dead human body is organic matter, which, barring human intervention will always decompose. It is a form-of-life that comes into being only after death.
Future dead body technology is about the conditions of possibility that recognize the corpse for its true organic value: biomass.
Dr. John Troyer is the Deputy Director of the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath. His interdisciplinary research focuses on contemporary memorialization practices, concepts of spatial historiography, and the dead body’s relationship with technology. Dr. Troyer is also a theatre director and installation artist with extensive experience in site-specific performance across the United States and Europe. He is a co-founder of the Death Reference Desk website (http://www.deathreferencedesk.org), the Future Cemetery Project (http://www.futurecemetery.com) and a frequent commentator for the BBC. His forthcoming book, Technologies of the Human Corpse (published by the University of North Carolina Press), will appear in 2015.
**All tickets are will call**
Please note: refunds issued only if event is cancelled.