Urbanism and North American Funerary Practices
Urbanism is a way of life for those who reside in a densely inhabited area with a heterogeneous human population. The diversity of cultures, worldviews and practices found in urban areas combine in a form of cultural mixing. The urban amalgamation of cultures raises the question of how urban dwellers process their dead. Indeed, does urbanism influence regional death rituals and funerary practices? Other elements such as urban zoning laws, funerary technology or land scarcity add further dimensions to the original question. In short, do urban funerary practices and death rituals differ precisely because they are urban? My research examines how urbanism affects the rituals and ceremonies that surround death in a North American urban setting, and specifically in Portland, OR. I further contrast the funerary practices in urban settings to those in rural ones, and analyze the influences or pressures urbanization poses on funeral practices. My research explores emerging trends in funeral practices and sheds important light on the changing rituals and symbols that surround death. The conclusions cover the upcoming issue of space scarcity in cemeteries and the new funerary applications of existing technology. Investigating interment practices in an urban setting reveals how an increasingly urban society interacts with death.
Faculty Mentor: Michele Gamburd