The Future of the Corpse: Changing Ecologies of Death and Disposition

Co-edited by Karla Rothstein and Christina Staudt

This book demonstrates that American society today is in a pivotal period for re-imaging end-of-life care, funerary services, human disposition methods, memorializing, and mourning. The editors and contributors outline the past, present, and future of death care rituals, pointing to promising new practices and innovative projects that show how we can better integrate the dying and dead with the living and create positive change that supports sustainable stewardship of our environment. Individual chapters describe prevailing practices and issues in different settings where people die and in postmortem rituals; disposition and current ecologically and, in urban areas, spatially unsustainable methods; law of human remains; customs and trends among key stakeholders, such as cemeteries and funeral directors; and relevant technological advances. The book culminates in a presentation of emerging sustainable disposition technologies and innovative designs for proposed public memorial projects that respond to shifting values, beliefs, and priorities among an increasingly diverse population.

Read a Columbia News interview with Karla Rothstein and Christina Staudt about The Future of the Corpse.