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Accepted Paper:

Places and cult of the dead in Piedmont: what funerary culture for the future?  
Alessandro Gusman (University of Turin) Cristina Vargas (Università degli Studi di Torino)

Paper long abstract:

The paper is based on a two-year research focused on ethnographic study of eight cemeteries in Piedmont (Italy).

Cemetery expresses contemporary social attitudes towards death; its construction is embedded within complex dynamics of social interaction and self representation at the collective and individual level.

Even if cemetery is connoted by the presence of the dead, there are spaces for creativity and imagination. For social actors, the construction of a "place of the dead" offers the opportunity to "construct an idealised map of the permanent social order" (Bloch & Parry 1982:35) and to localize personal memories in a collective space. It is possible to observe a wide range of personal, familiar and social strategies in the process of coping with the bereavement. Somehow, it is necessary to find a way of keeping toghether the collective places, rites and responses to death and the individual, intimate and painful, experience: "denying", "facing" or "avoiding" the idea of death do not appear as opposites, but as different, overlapping, aspects of a complex process.

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