The Pervasive Dead

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30 Citations (SciVal)


The sociological idea that modern societies sequestrate the dead is interrogated through Robert Hertz’s anthropological lens in which the position of body, spirit and mourners mirror one another. Focusing on Britain, two discursive systems are thus identified. In ‘the separated dead’, ‘letting go’ characterised not only the mourner but also practices that separated the deceased’s body and spirit from the living. This is now being challenged by a new body/spirit/mourner system - ‘the pervasive dead’ - in which bonds continue, the online dead can appear at any time, human remains sustain the everyday environment, and the dead become angels caring for the living. These elements have not hitherto been analysed together as contrasting body/spirit/mourner discursive systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-404
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Early online date3 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Afterlife
  • cemetery
  • continuing bonds
  • ecology
  • mentalité
  • sequestration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy


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