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Accepted Paper:

When life crisis meets environmental crisis: imagining death and ecological immortality in Japanese tree-burial  
Sebastien Boret Penmellen (Tohoku University)

Paper long abstract:

This paper investigates how environmental crisis has become the locus of creative ideas and practices of death within Japanese society. In a country where ancestor worship is the conventional way of death, a proliferation of new non-ancestral funerals has taken place since the 1990s. One of the most innovative ways of celebrating death is tree burial (jumokusō). In tree-burial, the customary ancestral tombstone is replaced by a tree and the graveyards become vast forestlands, what I refer to as ecological cemeteries. Among jumokusō adherents, the subject of death seems initially concealed by narratives of and praxis for the regeneration of a forest and its biodiversity. Reconciling the creative powers of life and death, however, this paper concludes that Japanese tree-burial provides individuals with the prospect of ecological immortality, in which one's own death is an instrument for the regeneration of life within a cycle of nature.

Panel W013
Death and imagination: creative strategies to embrace and avoid the crisis of death
  Session 1