Dr. Hannah Gould: Disrupted Futures of DeathCare

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 Lessons from 2020 East Asia and Beyond

 Dr Hannah Gould, ARC Research Fellow, DeathTech Research Team, The University of Melbourne.

 This presentation will explore how death care workers of diverse cultural traditions worldwide have responded to contemporary crises to forge new rites of death, disposal, and commemoration. These crises are both immediate, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and slow-moving, such as the changes to demography, urbanisation, and secularisation that have transformed East Asian society and death over the last few decades. These disruptions have created room for experimentation within established traditions, and prompted providers and families to consider what is possible, what is acceptable, and what is desirable around death.

With a particular focus on the presenter’s research in East Asia and on death during the Covid-19 pandemic, this talk will introduce and analyse innovative products and services in death care.   The limitations and potentials of these designs for the Australian context will be examined to reflect more widely on the relationship between technology, culture, and death.  

 Dr Hannah Gould is a socio-cultural anthropologist who works on practices of death and discarding, religion, and material culture within Australasia.  She is interested in how people creatively use objects to create, maintain, or sever relationships with the dead. Her doctoral research examined the Japanese funeral industry, showing how cultural traditions around death can themselves ‘die’, be replaced, or transformed.  Hannah is the recipient of the Japan Foundation Fellowship and the Dyason Fellowship, and her work has appeared in Anthropology Quarterly, Mortality, The BBC and The Guardian.


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