No Place, New Places: Death and its Rituals in Urban Asia

Submitted by James Miller on Thu, 02/02/2012 - 17:04
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TitleNo Place, New Places: Death and its Rituals in Urban Asia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsKong, L.
JournalUrban Studies

In many land-scarce Asian cities, planning agencies have sought to reduce space for the dead to release land for the living, encouraging conversion from burial to cremation over several decades. This has caused secular principles privileging efficient land use to conflict with symbolic values invested in burial spaces. Over time, not only has cremation become more accepted, even columbaria have become overcrowded, and new forms of burials (sea and woodland burials) have emerged. As burial methods change, so too do commemorative rituals, including new on-line and mobile phone rituals. This paper traces the ways in which physical spaces for the dead in several east Asian cities have diminished and changed over time, the growth of virtual space for them, the accompanying discourses that influence these dynamics and the new rituals that emerge concomitantly with the contraction of land space.