The Secret Cemetery  book cover
1st Edition

The Secret Cemetery

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ISBN 9781859735978
Published April 1, 2005 by Routledge
336 Pages

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Book Description

Burial sites have long been recognized as a way to understand past civilizations. Yet, the meanings of our present day cemeteries have been virtually ignored, even though they reveal much about our cultures. Exploring an extraordinarily diverse range of memorial practice - Greek Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish, Roman Catholic and Anglican, as well as the unchurched - The Secret Cemetery is an intriguing study of what these places of death mean to the living. Most of us experience cemeteries at a ritualized moment of loss. What we forget is that these are often places to which we return either as a general space in which to contemplate or as a specific site to be tended. These are also places where different communities can reinforce boundaries and even recreate a sense of homeland. Over time, ritual, artefact and place shape an intensely personal landscape of memory and mourning, a landscape more alive, more actively engaged with than many of the other places we inhabit.

Table of Contents

Studying the Living in Cemeteries * The Dynamics of Cemetery Landscapes * Planting the Memory: the Cemetery in the First Year of Mourning * The Grave as Home and Garden * Remembering the Dead for the Long Term * Keeping Kin and Kinship Alive * Cemeteries as Ethnic Homelands * Change and Renewal in Historic Cemeteries

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Doris Francis is Research Associate, Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Leonie Kellaher is Principal Research Officer and Director of the Centre for Environmental and Social Studies in Ageing, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of North London and Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of North London. Georgina Neophytou is Research Assistant, University of North London and Consultant, Open University.


"As the first of its kind to be published in this country it is ground breaking and deeply fascinating. This is an elegantly written book with not a word wasted. As a pioneering study it should be required reading for those with responsibility for cemeteries. - The Journal of the Institute of Cemetery Crematorium Management A pioneering study, The Secret Cemetery is essential to our understanding of modern burial culture - Julie Rugg, Cemetery Research Group, University of York If Mediterranean cemeteries are little cities, and American ones parks, the English cemetery is a garden. This sensitive ethnography shows how Londoners construct, objectively and subjectively, the grave as a garden and a second home. A bereavement book with a difference, and a real contribution to the literature on death and dying. - Tony Walter, Professor of Sociology, University of Reading This excellent study, grounded in observation, interview and comparison of bereaved people and their cemetery activities, weaves together themes of 'body, home and garden' in a way that genuinely advances the field of death studies. Careful and clear theoretical perspectives bring insight and understanding to much detailed description. The text, illustrations, and Sir Raymond Firth's Foreword combine in what will become a classic text of interest to sociology, theology and cultural studies. - Douglas J. Davies, Professor in the Study of Religion, Durham University This book provides some fascinating insights into some of the reasons why people not only visit cemeteries but plant, clean and otherwise maintain graves and grave spaces. - John Clarke, Funeral Service Journal As a pioneering study, the importance of this book cannot be underestimated. - John Clarke, Funeral Service Journal The Secret Cemetery is an important publication methodologically, thematically, and practically. The Secret Cemetery is a major contribution to the anthropological study of death throught its focus on a modern Western setting. - Helaine Silverman, The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute A thoroughly engaging treatise. - Ken Warpole for Mortality, Vol. 11, No.1, Feb 2006 Exploring a diverse range of memorial practice -- Greek Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish, Roman Catholic and Anglican, as well as the unchurched -- The Secret Cemetery is a study of what present day cemeteries mean to the living and what they reveal about our cultures. - Green Places The Secret Cemetery' may be one of the most important works to appear in our field in the past several decades. ... It should be in the library of anyone who is truly serious about this field. - Richard E. Meyer"