Encountering Corpses
Wednesday 26th March 2014

Convened by Dr Craig Young (Manchester Metropolitan University) and Helen Malarky (IHSSR Project Manager)

12 noon – 7 pm, The Manchester Museum


This event will discuss a wide range of issues in contemporary society surrounding the human body after the point of death. We will specifically address how the materiality of the human corpse is treated in and through display, exhibition, sanctification, memorialisation, burial and disposal.

How do we deal with the ethics of displaying bodies in museums (as with the mummies of Manchester) and in art (as with the infamous ‘Bodyworlds’ exhibits)? What are the public services challenges of managing the increased numbers of deaths amongst our ageing population? Is it right to dig up and move Richard III or to view the bones and death sites of genocide victims as a form of tourism? How do corpses function as socio-political subjects in contemporary politics and subject formation? What are the issues raised by their display in news media and social networking?

These questions and more will be debated in a day that will also involve the active viewing of human remains within the Manchester Museum collections and then discussing this experience as a group. Topics under consideration will include:

Burial, commemoration, ritual

• Handling the dead: mortuary and cemetery
• Public services and the corpse
• Rituals and burials
• War memorials (unknown soldier, Flanders Field, First World War dead)
• Mobile corpses (disinterment and reinternment)

Curation and tourism

• Museum display of remains
• Genocide tourism and curating
• Grave tourism
• Archaeology – Richard III, public engagement
• Facial recreation, privacy and respect

Art, aesthetics and ethics

• Ossuary
• Ethics of handling and display of remains
• Display of remains as art
• Corpses in news media, social networking

Confirmed speakers:

• Emma Fox (Southern Cemetery tours)
• Paul Koudounaris (Author of ‘The Empire of the Death’ and ‘Heavenly Bodies’)
• Duncan Light (MMU)
• Samantha McCormick (MMU)
• Campbell Price (Manchester)
• Julie Rugg (York)
• Faye Sayer (MMU)
• Bryan Sitch (Manchester)
• Craig Young (MMU)

For further information, click here.


Helen Malarky · October 19, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Apologies there is a mis-print here, Paul’s surname is Koudounaris

    Centre for Medical Humanities · October 20, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Updated, thanks!

Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: