1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Museums, Heritage, and Death

Edited By Trish Biers, Katie Stringer Clary Copyright 2024
    607 Pages 59 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book provides a comprehensive examination of death, dying, and human remains in museums and heritage sites around the world.

    Presenting a diverse range of contributions from scholars, practitioners, and artists, the book reminds us that death and the dead body are omnipresent in museum and heritage spaces. Chapters appraise collection practices and their historical context, present global perspectives and potential resolutions, and suggest how death and dying should be presented to the public. Acknowledging that professionals in the galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM) fields are engaging in vital discussions about repatriation and anti-colonialist narratives, the book includes reflections on a variety of deathscapes that are at the forefront of the debate. Taking a multivocal approach, the handbook provides a foundation for debate as well as a reference for how the dead are treated within the public arena. Most important, perhaps, the book highlights best practices and calls for more ethical frameworks and strategies for collaboration, particularly with descendant communities.

    The Routledge Handbook of Museums, Heritage, and Death will be useful to all individuals working with, studying, and interested in curation and exhibition at museums and heritage sites around the world. It will be of particular interest to those working in the fields of heritage, museum studies, death studies, archaeology, anthropology, sociology, and history.


    Trish Biers and Katie Stringer Clary

    Part 1: Acquisition, Curation, and Conservation of the Dead

    1. Historical Contexts of Bodies, Display, and Spectacle

    Katie Stringer Clary

    2. Conserving the Humanity of Human Remains

    Cat Irving

    3. A Museum Archive: An Unexpected Final Resting Place but One Full of Promise

    Jelena Bekvalac

    4. Striking a Balance: Preserving, Curating, and Investigating Human Remains from the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Sicily

    Kirsty Squires and Dario Piombino-Mascali

    5. The Handling of the Remains of the Ancestors in Peru: Realities, Challenges, and Wishes

    Guido P. Lombardi, Rubén Buitrón, Lizbeht Tepo, Clide Valladolid, Bradymir Bravo, Susana Arce, Elva Torres, Sonia Guillén, and Trish Biers

    6. Engaging with Death in Museums and Collections

    Trish Biers

    Part 2: Displaying the Dead: Exhibitions and Ethical Considerations

    7. Education, Preservation and Reconciliation: The J.L. Shellshear Museum and the Preservation and Display of Human Remains

    Denise Donlon and Fiona Gill

    8. The Mummies of Guanajuato: The Tension between Ethics and Ambition

    Paloma Robles Lacayo

    9. The Cost of Civil Rights: Loss, Grief, and Death at US Civil Rights Museums

    Jenny Woodley

    10. Changing People, Changing Content: New Perspectives on Past Peoples

    Rebecca Redfern and Thomas Booth

    11. Transforming Memento Mori: A Contemporary Lens

    Charles Clary

    12. The Hollywood Museum of Death: The Commodification of the Maiden, Criminal and the Corpse

    Tia Tudor Price

    Part 3: Decolonisation and Shifting the Perspective in Museums and Heritage

    13. Papuan Pasts: The Origins of Papuan Human Remains Collections in the World’s Museums, the Issue of Repatriation, and Telling New Stories with Skeletal Data

    Jason Kariwiga, Gabriel Wrobel, and Michael C. Westaway

    14. Searching for Identities through Archaeological Human Remains in Turkey

    Eli̇fgül Doğan

    15. Entangled Entitlements and Shuar Tsantsa (Shrunken Heads)

    Laura N.K. Van Broekhoven

    16. Julia Pastrana’s Long Journey Home

    Laura Anderson Barbata

    17. Egyptian Mummified Remains: Communities of Descent and Practice

    Heba Abd el-Gawad and Alice Stevenson

    18. The Curated Ossilegium: Museum Practices as Death and Mourning Rituals

    Evi Numen

    Part 4: Deathscapes and Heritage

    19. From Dead Places to Places of the Dead: The Memorial Power of Battlefields, Ruins, and Burials in the Warscapes of Spain and the Western Front

    Dacia Viejo-Rose, Layla Renshaw, and Paola Filippucci

    20. From Trauma to Tourism: Balancing the Needs of the Living and the Dead

    Joanne Mather

    21. Death, Memory, and Power: Public Memorial Culture of Moscow Necropolises

    Maria Kucheryavaya

    22. Not Their Heritage Theme Park: Honouring the Outcast at Crossbones Graveyard

    Lucy Coleman Talbot

    23. The Ghosts of Kūkai: Virtual Heritage and Landscapes of Death in Japan’s Shikoku Pilgrimage

    Ronald S. Green and Susan J. Bergeron

    24. A Shadow Pandemic: Protest, Mourning, and Grassroots Memorialization in Mexico City

    Kelsey Perreault

    Part 5: Public Education and Engagement in Museums and Heritage

    25. Engagement That Works: Practical Insights for Inviting the Public into Cemeteries

    Kimberly Bearden

    26. Talking About the D Word: Public Engagement in a Place of the Dead

    Janine Marriott

    27. The Death Positive Library

    Stacey Pitsillides, Claire Nally, Anita Luby, Rhonda Brooks, Fiona Hill, Joanne Ghee, Katherine Ingham, and Judith Robinson

    28. Haunted Houses and Horrific History: Ghost Tours at Historic House Museums

    Katie Stringer Clary and David Hearnes

    29. Walking, Public Engagement, and Pedagogy: Mobile Death Studies

    Ruth Penfold-Mounce

    Part 6: Death Studies and Heritage in Practice

    30. The Cemetery Church of All Saints with the Ossuary

    Radka Krejčí

    31. Memento Mori Exhibition from the Dominican Crypt, Vác (Március 15 Square, 19) Hungary

    Anita Csukovits and Katalin Forró

    32. Our Queerly Departed – Researching, Remembering and Respecting the LGBTQ+ Deceased

    Sacha Coward

    33. Close Encounters with Death and Disease: Young Visitors’ Perspectives at the Mütter Medical History Museum

    Rachel Anisha Divaker and Mary Margaret Kerr

    34. The Use of CT scan for the Construction of Mummy Replicas for Museography: Social and Ethical Perspectives

    Verónica Silva-Pinto, Mario Castro, Yanis Valenzuela-Sánchez, Ayelén Tonko-Huenucoy, Carlos Montoya, Marcelo Gálvez, and Trish Biers

    Part 7: Concluding Remarks

    Trish Biers and Katie Stringer Clary


    Trish Biers curates the Duckworth Laboratory (human and non-human primate remains) in the Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge.

    Katie Stringer Clary is an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Coastal Carolina University.