City sextons are a dying breed and in this book sextons from throughout the United States share their experiences as a city’s chief death expert. With a view to investigating their role in local governance processes, how they contribute to public engagement in cities, and what are some misconceptions about this role, Staci M. Zavattaro sheds light on unique public servants that are rarely – if at all – discussed in public administration research. Themes discussed include:
- background stories on each sexton interviewed;
- vignettes of their most interesting stories that can be used as case studies in public administration practice and teaching;
- public history functions;
- self-care strategies they use to deal with the stress of the position.
City Sextons: Tales from Municipal Leaders will be of key interest to scholars studying public management, emotional labor, and leadership.
Table of Contents
1. Sextons as Public Servants
2. Cemeteries in Everyday Life
3. Records Management and Deeds
4. Cultural Competency in Cemetery Management
5. Dark Tourism and the Cemetery
6. Empathy and Beyond
7. Cemetery Potpourri
8. Concluding Remarks
Staci M. Zavattaro is Associate Professor of Public Administration with the School of Public Administration at the University of Central Florida. Her books include Cities for Sale, Place Branding Through Phases of the Image, and Social Media to Government: Theory and Practice (edited with Dr. Thomas Bryer). She serves as editor-in-chief of the international journal Administrative Theory & Praxis. Her work appears in journals such as Urban Studies, Public Administration Review, Journal of Place Management and Development, Administration & Society, and Tourism Management.
"From databases to cultural competency; from dark tourism to emotional labor; from compassion to landscaping. This book shows the hidden work of municipal management in an enjoyably readable format."
Mary E. Guy, University of Colorado Denver
"Zavattaro’s ground-breaking work shines a light on an area of public service few consider but is vitally connected to all of us – the care of the dead and public cemeteries. With fascinating interviews with city sextons across the US, she highlights the complex management challenges with preserving the memories of the dead, dealing with cultural complexities as communities change, and the critical role of empathy in this unique set of front-line public services. This should be required reading for all interested in developing a nuanced understanding of the full range of public management activities."
Jessica Sowa, Professor, College of Public Affairs, University of Baltimore