In our last GeoNet seminar Craig Young and Tim Darville discussed cultural heritage landscapes and deathscapes, followed by Anne Luce who examined the presentation of suicide in the media.
Craig Young introduced the seminar discussing the evolving patterns of death and the changing social attitudes towards death. The physical absence of the dead body is becoming significantly apparent when illustrating the changes in the memorialisation of the dead. For example, new ways of scattering ashes such as sending in to space, converting it in to diamonds as a permanent keepsake and using social media to contact others to help spread ashes to different continents. An increase in the memorialisation at the site of death in the form of roadside shrines indicates a shift away from official ceremonies to more informal and open displays of grief.
Tim Darville, who has recently published on life, death, ritual and regional identity in Britain c. 1600 BC, discussed the relationship and practices between the living and dead. He used Stonehenge as an example. I found it interesting to discover that Stonehenge originated as a burial ground, and as a monument to the dead. Darville went on to explain links between the spatial orientations of the stone structures with the celestial calendar. The landscape changes from contained to dispersed, each holding its own celestial meaning as a burial site.
Anne Luce carried on the discussion talking about suicide in the media. Changes in attitude towards suicides have resulted in more high profile suicides reported in the media. For example, the Bridgend suicides in Wales 2008 were presented by the media as a suicide cult, therefore being picked up by the international press. The growth in social media sites, such as Facebook, has led to personal and public displays of remembrance in the form of memorial pages, which in some instances has led to an increased awareness of online bullying as a main cause of suicide.
Charlotte Unwin, GeoNet Intern