• Under Block Houses on Zachodnia Street: Liquidation of the Old Jewish Cemetery in Lodz, Poland: by Lucja Lange

    Lodz is an atypical Polish city. Historically it was viewed as the “Promised Land” and “City of Dreams”. Some say that it grew in “American speed.” Industrialization, driven by dreams of wealth and a good life, brought people from around the world, seeking new opportunities. But with this influx of new communities, there grew a need for community burial grounds. At first, the Jewish inhabitants of Lodz had to take their deceased to Lutomiersk or Strykow, but on April 4, 1811, together with the Society of the Holy and Nursing of the Sick, a local cemetery was established at Wesola Street, which was city-center. Expanding from 6,500 square feet to…

  • Death and Dignity: The Exploitation of Corpses in Guanajuato’s Mummy Museum: by Marlene Melissa Davila

    Naked corpses stand alongside each other with expressions of suffering in the dark corridors of the maze-like museum. Where everything is seemingly arranged to shock the viewer. “Welcome to the Mummy Museum, it’s 100 pesos for two tickets.” Says a woman behind the counter. It’s been almost 150 years since the state of Guanajuato in Mexico opened its Mummy Museum with more than one hundred mummified corpses ranging from 7-month-old fetuses to 70-year-old men and women. Over the last 10 years this museum has attracted thousands of visitors, all hoping to catch a morbid glimpse of the extraordinary effects that the mineral rich soil can have on the dead. The…

  • Reclaiming Marginalized Deaths through Data Analysis, The Case of Geer Cemetery: by Kaylee P. Alexander, PhD

    In Plain Sight: Reflections Past & Actions Present in Durham’s Geer Cemetery is an outdoor educational exhibit examining the history of Durham, NC’s first public African American cemetery.  The exhibit runs through April 3, 2021 and is spearheaded by Nicholas Levy and Debra Taylor Gonzales of the Friends of Geer Cemetery (FoGC), a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection, preservation, and reclamation of Geer Cemetery and its attendant histories.  In Plain Sight came together through countless hours of volunteer research, writing, and installation work to recover and share the history of this space and the individuals buried within it. According to the exhibition’s website, this collaborative, community effort is intended…

  • Recording and Recovering the Past: African-American Cemeteries in Athens, Georgia by: Tracy L. Barnett

    African-American cemeteries across the South are vanishing—not from descendants’ memories, but from the physical landscape itself. For decades, infrastructure development and urban renewal projects have disrupted the final resting places of Black men, women, and children. Across the United States, but especially in the South, white city and university leaders have knowingly and unknowingly disinterred Black bodies, destroyed gravestones, and repurposed cemetery grounds. In other instances, lack of perpetual care has allowed the landscape itself to strangle the dead. Ivy, kudzu, wisteria, and other fast-growing plants choke fieldstone, marble, and granite tombstones—all but obscuring them from the view of a well-meaning passerby or curious descendant. These mournful yet meaningful public…

  • #MMIW: The Life and Death of Stolen Sisters by: Anna V. Bayona-Strauss

    This article is part of The Death Gap Series, a collaboration between The Order Of The Good Death and The Collective For Radical Death Studies. The series examines the various ways in which systemic racism impacts the way BIPOC communities experience death and access end-of-life care. (CW: suicide, sexual assault, descriptions of graphic violence)  On July 3, 2017, in the Arizona portion of Diné Tribal Nation, the lands of a tribe often referred to by the exonym “Navajo,” the day was permeated by blinding sunshine and dry desert heat. Ariel Begay, a bright, witty 26-year-old Diné woman, was picked up from her family home by her boyfriend, ready to enjoy the golden days of summer;…

  • Nana’s Wig by: Erica Gerald Mason

    This article is part of The Death Gap Series, a collaboration between The Order Of The Good Death and The Collective For Radical Death Studies. The series examines the various ways in which systemic racism impacts the way BIPOC communities experience death and access end-of-life care. It’s Saturday morning in the summertime, and you are seven. Your grandmother takes you to Fulton Street in Brooklyn. She’s shopping for a wig, and she’d like you to hurry up. Saturday is the worst day to buy wigs. You and your sister follow her as she surveys the wigs in the shop. As in all things, but especially wig shopping, your Nana takes her time. After a million…

  • Whose Green Burial is it Anyway? by: Corinne Elicone

    This article is part of The Death Gap Series, a collaboration between The Order Of The Good Death and The Collective For Radical Death Studies. The series examines the various ways in which systemic racism impacts the way BIPOC communities experience death and access end-of-life care. In 1889, over 100 years before the first conservation cemetery was founded in the United States, a man who was just beginning his journey to become “The Father of Environmentalism” sat deflated in a high mountain pasture in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. John Muir had emerged from his campsite, furious to see the devastation that a flock of sheep had wrought on the grassland of this “cathedral” of…

  • Luxury vs. Obligation: Israelite Burials in 19th-Century Paris by: Kaylee P. Alexander

    In 1804, following decades of cemetery complications in major cities such as Paris, Napoleon issued a series of burial reforms that were to radically transform the ways in which French citizens would henceforth be buried. Still the basis for French burial laws to this day, the Decree of 23 Prairial year XII (June 12, 1804) guaranteed, for the first time in French history, distinct burial plots in public cemeteries for all citizens regardless of class or religion. However, burial would only be permanent for a small fraction of the population who met the considerable financial criteria for purchasing a perpetual concession, a land grant that transformed a plot public cemetery…

  • Pedro Zamora from MTV’s Real World & Radical Death Activism by: Justin Cook

    Pedro Zamora was so much more than just one of the stars of the 1993 season of MTV’s The Real World. He was, as his AIDS Quilt patch made very clear – a son, lover, friend, educator, activist, and hero. He was also one of the first openly gay people with HIV to appear on television. But even before his time on The Real World, Zamora was an HIV/AIDS advocate having been involved with the Miami HIV/AIDS organization Body Positive and lectured at schools throughout the country working towards comprehensive sexual education programs inclusive of safe sex practices and HIV/AIDS awareness.   After his time on The Real World, Pedro…