Situating the Dead: Cemeteries as Material, Symbolic, and Relational Space (2022).
By Avril Maddrell and Brenda Mathijssen
Published in: The Oxford Handbook of Religious Space. Access here.
This chapter explores the coproduction of space and religion through analysis of the material, symbolic, and relational characteristics of graves and cemeteries. Both space and religion are multifaceted: lived, relational, dynamic, performative, and processual. Cemeteries, deemed “sacred,” in formal or wider senses in many societies, embody mortal remains, provide a focal point for commemoration, symbolize continuing relationships with the deceased and any beliefs about the afterlife. Studying cemeteries through a spatial lens oers insights into contemporary lived religion and changes over time. Drawing on case studies, the chapter demonstrates the ways in which cemeteries oer signicant insights into the situated spatialities and wider geographies of religions, beliefs, and rituals. Varied grave-iconography and texts, and the spatial organization of cemeteries reect geographies of belonging, including migratory and diasporic networks and the varied ways in which dierent religions are lived, expressed, and contested in a particular locality and time.