We are now inviting expressions of interest that address the following theme. EOIs close 28 February. See the conference website for more detail about ways to participate.
How might we reimagine the future of deathcare?
‘Deathcare’ describes our total system for responding to death, from ageing and the end-of-life, through to body disposal and bereavement.
The acute threat posed by COVID-19 over the last two years has exacerbated deeper challenges to our contemporary models of deathcare, from climate change to an ageing population. Such forces are not simply threats, they also invite innovation and creativity.
Redesigning Deathcare invites contributions from diverse perspectives to collectively imagine and build a holistic system of deathcare. People today are presented with ever-expanding individual choice around the end-of-life, but are also forced to navigate complex, fragmented systems of care that fail to provide equitable and meaningful outcomes. As it stands, deathcare is artificially separated into silos, organised around different stages (dying, death, commemoration, etc.), different professions (medical clinicians, funeral directors, counsellors, etc.), and academic disciplines (medicine, anthropology, law, etc.).
The conference asks delegates to consider:
How do we remake our deathcare system so that it better meets community needs, not just today, but for future generations?
How do we bridge long-standing divides in how we imagine and manage the end-of-life?
How might contested views of the future be productively and equitably debated and resolved?
How are the future of the planet and the future of deathcare intertwined?
The program at Redesigning Deathcare is organised around four key challenges:
Diversity & Justice
Expressions of interest close 28 February 2022. Registration and full submissions close 31 May 2022.
The Encyclopedia of Cemetery Technology is a global map and directory of technologies that augment the experience of interacting with a cemetery. It was created by the DeathTech Research Team as part of the Future Cemetery project, based on a systematic review of academic, industry and popular publications about cemeteries and technology.
The Encyclopedia summarises the type and function of existing cemetery technologies. The major application categories are:
Death is often an uncomfortable topic, but as an inevitable part of life, it’s something that we should seek to find comfort with.
Bone is intrinsically linked to the concept of life and of death, and this event seeks to explore how we can transform it from simply a material, into a concept that collectively connects us.
Join us at MPavilion with artist Catherine Bell as she guides us to sculpt a personal memento to loss and grief, death and dying—and the ways we cope with it that fundamentally make us human.
Participants are also invited to engage in a reflective conversation addressing concepts around bone, and the topic of death, led in part by professor Tamara Kohn from the DeathTech team at The University of Melbourne.
This event has been developed as part of the M_Curators, an MPavilion program engaging young makers, doers and programmers.
Audiences are advised that this event includes topics and content that may be confronting or distressing for some people
The seminars covered topics including sustainable alternatives to burial and cremation, the role of cemeteries as recreational public spaces, the use of digital technology in the cemetery sector, and high-tech death practices in East Asia and beyond. The series concluded with a panel discussion on ‘the future cemetery’ with panellists from DeathTech and GMCT.
Dr Fraser Allison spoke to ABC Radio National’s Life Matters program about the proliferation of digital technology at cemeteries. The episode covered augmented reality tours, in-coffin audio systems and digitally enhanced gravestones.
In this webinar hosted by the International Collaborative for Best Care for the Dying Person, Dr Bjorn Nansen and Amara Nwosu discussed the practicalities of death and dying in an increasingly digital world.
DeathTech’s Dr Fraser Allison joined filmmaker/artist Daz Chandler and design researcher Dr Niels Wouters at ACMI X to talk about voice technology. The wide-ranging conversation included a discussion of the long history of attempts to use new technologies to listen and speak to the dead.
What happens when your voice is uploaded to the internet? From Siri to experimental art, the way we use our voices with technology is rapidly changing. In constructing and deconstructing voice we create digital archives of our lives, stretching beyond our IRL bodies to create digital replicas which could be beyond our control. What are we leaving for future generations to find? How will they experience these human-computer hybrid remnants of our lives?
Digital replicas created through chatbots, deepfakes and AI may blur our sense of trust and what listening means to us – but we can also encounter new possibilities for empathy, ethics and creativity. Voice-controlled interfaces also offer playful and imaginative experiences that create new layers of meaning and social interaction.
Dr Bjørn Nansen appeared on ABC Radio National’s Life Matters program on 24th May to discuss the online services that aim to support people in dealing with death.
It may sound very biblical, but in the midst of life, we are in death. Still, death can be a difficult topic to broach. Today though, online spaces are providing more comfortable places for people to talk about death. Businesses like AddendoVault, and community groups such as Groundswell are providing choices about how we might mourn the loss of someone we held dear, as well as get our affairs in order before we die.
DeathTech member, Dr Hannah Gould, spoke with the Radio National Life Matters team about the changing nature of funerals in Australia, and what happens when conflicts emerge between the wishes of the deceased and the bereaved.
The program features a number of wonderful stories from members of the public calling in, who describe how they are “doing death differently” and bucking tradition.
From Radio National:
What happens when a loved one tells you they don’t want a funeral when they die, but family members feel compelled to mark their passing with a service? It is tradition, but are we honouring the deceased, or are these ceremonies really to allow the bereaved to grieve? The whole process came into sharp focus during the pandemic, when many funerals were held over zoom, condolences could only be accepted over the phone and, in some cases, burials were conducted with no one at the grave site. Has COVID-19 changed the way we think about death rituals? And whose wishes should you follow, the deceased or the bereaved?
“I see death as a social process – one that is materialised through the act of disposal. So, my vision for the future of death disposal would involve the development of rituals that encourage community discussion about death that will support people to plan their death in advance, in a similar way the birth of a baby is planned.
Reframing body disposal as beneficial to the environment would be integral to that vision. Situating body decomposition as serving a personal and environmentally sustainable legacy would conceptually recuperate death into life and foster ethical burial choices.”