Spade & the Grave

death and burial through an archaeological lens

Death Salon Boston 2018 – An Inconvenient Corpse

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If you’re following my research because you’re extra-interested in death and dying, there is a good chance that you already know about the Order of the Good Death. The Order is an organization founded by funeral director and death positive advocate Caitlin Doughty, and directed by curator Sarah Chavez. It advocates for education and discussion on death and dying, that speaking/working in/researching these subjects is not morbid, and that burials should be moving towards an environmentally conscious set of practices (among many other things!).

The Order hosts this annual, sort of a cross between a conference and a public event, with talks, tours, artists, ad all manner of people who work / study / have an interest in death, called the Death Salon. The last few years I’ve really wanted to attend the event, mostly out of curiosity of what was going on, but they have always been far away from where ever I was living at the time (ie. last year I was in YYT and the Death Salon was in Seattle!).

This year Death Salon is in Boston, MA!  The event will be taking place from:
September 28th – 30th, 2018, at Mount Auburn Cemetery. 


Image by @erinhanx 

Through my work, I try to encourage open discussions about death and dying throughout history, which opens up a platform for people to ask questions about these practices in our society today. While doing fieldwork or simply discussing my work with the public, I’m often told personal stories or asked questions about how burial practices have evolved from the period I study (17th-19th century mostly) into what we see today, what options people have, and how to learn more about the variety of burial practices we have access to in North America today. It’s an awesome spot to be in, as an archaeologist and someone who enjoys providing that platform, and it does help that archaeologists deal with death, whether literally or through the objects, landscapes, and structures used by those who are now dead, on a regular basis.

Not only am I attended Death Salon this year, but I was also invited to speak! (insert celebratory emojis here). I’ll be speaking on Saturday, September 29th, at 11 am!



Myself & the fabulous octagonal Aurora Dead House (Photo by Ian Petty 2018)

Everyone, I’ll be talking about winter burial in colonial Canada, why storage over sea burials was more likely in the 17th century, and how storage practices in Canada evolved through the 19th century, into folk traditions and practices still carried out today! I haven’t shared the photos with you all, but a few weeks ago I went on a mini road trip to visit a few of the dead houses that I talked about in my Winter Corpse blog post…and even got to go inside of one of them, which was the best experience. (if you want to see those interior shots, you’ll have to come to the Death Salon, or wait til I write a paper / post about it later!)

That’s my news, which I’m pretty excited about! It’s going to be an awesome event, in a cemetery that I’ve been dying (hah) to visit, even though I’ve been to Boston several times. I’d by lying if I said I hadn’t been sitting on this for months and have already booked our accommodations!

Now..I should probably stop doing field trips and write my talk right? Right.

(be sure to follow me on twitter @robyn_la for updates, and follow @DeathSalon for coverage of the event as well!)

Author: Robyn S. Lacy

Archaeologist / Cultural Heritage / Burial Ground Restoration

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