The Future Cemetery

The research investigates the potential of new and innovative technologies to be incorporated into Australian cemeteries and memorial spaces.

smashed keyboard on ground

The contemporary Western cemetery, dedicated to the dead and their memorials, has become more than a pervasive urban landmark. It is also a central site in the emotional lives and cultural histories of local communities. However, this model is now facing crisis, driven by growing environmental concerns, maintenance costs, and an increasingly well-informed public with a complex range of desires for memorialisation.

Around the world, many cemeteries have begun adopting new technologies to improve their visitors’ experiences, reduce their facilities’ environmental footprint, and extend the personalisation of services in response to more diverse community desires. These include the potential for grave location, navigation, and tours, and for digital annotation or augmentation of interment locations. New alternatives to traditional cremation, burial, and mausoleums have also become viable, including resomation (water-based cremation) and natural burial. This project will identify and critically assess the potential of innovative technologies to enhance the public’s experience of the cemetery, diversify service offerings, and strengthen community connections, all in the context of increasingly diverse and rapidly changing social circumstances.

The DeathTech Research Team is a group of anthropologists, social scientists, and human-computer interaction specialists based at the University of Melbourne working to understand the intersection of death, technology, and society in the 21st century.

More information

Project details

Sponsors

ARC Linkage Project funding commencement: 2019 (active)

Connected projects

  • Disposal of the Dead is a three-year project funded by the Australian Research Council
  • Digital Commemoration was a three-year project funded by the Australian Research Council. For more information, visit the project website

Research partners

The Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (GMCT)

Project team

Dr Bjorn Nansen
Professor Michael Arnold
Professor Tamara Kohn
Associate Professor Martin Gibbs
Dr Elizabeth Hallam

Contact

Dr Bjorn Nansen