Thursday, January 26, 2012

Space Constraints in Urban Asia Prompt a Shift in Ritual and Memorialization

Lily Kong, a geographer at the National University of Singapore, describes how commemorative practices in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China have changed in response to shrinking amounts of physical space for the dead. These shifts — from earthly graves to cremation, and now to scattered ashes and even online memorials — mark a graduation from "spatial competition to spatial compression and then to spatial transcendence," -The Challenges of Burying The Dead in Urban Asia, The Atlantic Cities, Eric Jaffe
What is evident from existing studies is that death practices and deathscapes have evolved over time in a number of Asian cities. ... As a consequence, sacred space and sacred time have been reconceptualised and rituals have been (re)invented to suit conditions of modernity while addressing abiding belief systems. -Urban Studies, Lily Kong
This change in rituals, moving  from the physical to the virtual through the use of memorial websites vividly demonstrates both the need for ritual and the ways that traditions adapt to new circumstances.  Visit Atlantic Cities for Mr. Jaffee's full piece, and if you have access to Sage Journals, please take a look at Ms. Kong's Article. 

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Funeral service faces a crisis of relevance, and I am passionate about keeping the best traditions of service alive while adapting to the changing needs of families. Feel free to contact me with questions, or to share your thoughts on funeral service, ritual, and memorialization.


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