30 years from now the cemetery will disappear. Expert on the problems of immortality

© RIA to Novoshepelychi in fotoreceptori picture Seeing the dead (1865). Artist Vasily Grigoryevich Perov. The state Tretyakov gallery30 years from now the cemetery will disappear. Expert on the problems of immortality© RIA to Novoshepelychi the image Bank

Attitude to death, business in the funeral services and different beliefs in the afterlife were the subject of study of anthropologists. Russian language is one of the first studies on this subject — «the Birth and death of the funeral industry: from medieval churchyards to digital immortality.» The author — Sergey Mokhov, laboratory of social studies of death and dying CISR in Saint Petersburg.

In an interview with RIA Novosti, he spoke about how modern technology changes people and why their attitude towards the care of life attracted scholarly interest.

The attitude to death

The vast majority of people on Earth, regardless of religious denomination, means life after death. It seems that in the twenty-first century believe in the progress of technology and the Internet, in fact it is not.

Studies in all countries — industrialized, and with a weak economy — show: people hope that after death something exists, in varying degrees, people are immortal.

The attitude of Russians to the death of an important religious aspect. In this sense we are closer to Catholic Europe, because we assume not until the end of the dead state of man after death. That is, the dead can hear us, there are some prayers and other forms of ritual communication with the deceased.

In Protestantism there is nothing like this, so for the Protestants particularly important memory of the person. The fate of the deceased is solved: he was either in hell or in Paradise.

But I must say that all of these religious ideas long layered different practices. For example: a person can consider themselves Orthodox, to be he was Church-going and still believe in spirits and semi-mystical thing, this happens often.

Therefore, the modern generation is much easier to apply to cremation, to different practices in relation to the dead body. After all, if you can do anything with a living body, why not do it with the dead?

In the book I show how this leads to the dying of the funeral industry. Because it was built on the fetishism of the dead body. Faith in the resurrection of a person dictated the need for the sacralization of the body. Modern technology, by contrast, dictate the desacralisation. And all these hearses, expensive caskets — all rooted in the past.

Today, people have no land and financial resources to contain the hectares of land for burials.

So mad pace grows cremation, and cemetery remain as artifacts. Think how the infrastructure of the cemetery will disappear in the next 20-30 years, at least in Europe.

What did the Soviet government

The book tells more about the European experience. We went the other way, although for me on many cultural phenomena Russia is the absolute Europe. And if not for Soviet power, we are able to manage the funeral business is no different from Scandinavians.

The demolition occurred in the 1920-ies. Before cemeteries were engaged in the Church, the funeral business (coffins, wreaths, crosses), private traders. The new government has banned the business, and the cemetery was transferred to the control of local councils. Because it is costly, for several years, the infrastructure fell into disrepair. Began a catastrophic crisis in the larger cemeteries, when accumulated unburied bodies, there was no one to dig graves.© Public domainРепродукция paintings of albert Anker «the Funeral of the child» (1863)30 years from now the cemetery will disappear. Expert on the problems of immortality© Public domainРепродукция paintings of albert Anker «the Funeral of the child» (1863)

Power for a long time tried to do something and in the end let essentially the to chance. Only re-appeared in the NEP entrepreneurship have improved the situation.30 years from now the cemetery will disappear. Expert on the problems of immortality© Photo : courtesy of the press service of the Jewish Museum and tolerance Centre/Sasha Getisactive Empire: the photographer removed the ZIL shortly before demolition

But then everything was back to normal. Since 1930-ies the government has left this sector in the area of responsibility of the citizens themselves. The people themselves were engaged in funeral homes: cemetery contained, sometimes digging graves and making coffins. Evidence of this abound.

The country had developed a network of garage artisanal production — the deficit was always out because someone has made in some workshops. The same principle worked in the funeral business and restructuring it it’s just legalized. But the funeral industry has not got the main to become the industry — the right to private infrastructure.

In Russia it is still impossible to establish private cemeteries, private mortuaries and crematoria is accompanied by problems and paperwork, therefore, no one does.

About why death is necessary to investigate

The last three years I have been studying Russian funeral business, this anthropological study. For several years I worked in a funeral company and watched how it works from the inside.

This book was conceived as the first part of a larger study. In it, I tried to consider the funeral industry as a product of capitalism: why the hearses, cemetery in its current form, why was embalming why it has received such an extension and is it possible that it’s somewhere you go? © RIA to Novoshepelychi in fotoballoon firefighters who died fighting a fire in 190630 years from now the cemetery will disappear. Expert on the problems of immortality© RIA to Novoshepelychi in fotoballoon firefighters who died fighting a fire in 1906

In Europe there is such a scientific field of death studies. Behind this term hides a huge number of completely different directions. The fact that through this subject I can discuss a variety of issues: social, political, economic. For example, the conversation about palliative care — it’s not talking about death per se, but on the human right to a dignified end of life.

Many of these issues such as the issue of euthanasia or suicide in Russia meet a genuine misunderstanding. We have valuable background to talk about these things. Much easier life after death, because people believe in something that is «out there» they are waiting for something better.

 

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