Public Spaces: Culture and Integration in Europe (HERA Conference, Gdansk)

On 11-12 September 2019, Avril Maddrell (project leader) and Mariske Westendorp (postdoc researcher) presented the CeMi project “Cemeteries and crematoria as public spaces of belonging” at the HERA conference in Gdánsk (Poland).

The CeMi project is funded by HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area), a partnership between 26 humanities research councils across Europe. HERA organizes annual conferences, during which project leaders, project investigators and researchers can meet each other in a semi-formal setting. In different panels, research ideas and outcomes are discussed and shared.

During the panel entitled “Uses of the Dead,” Avril Maddrell introduced our CeMi project to the audience. She ended with the powerful message that people need to be encouraged to engage more with cemeteries in their cities. In this way, they can become better aware of the existing diversities and inequalities present in their immediate surroundings.

On the ground floor of the conference venue, a poster exhibition was displayed. The CeMi poster (designed by Danielle House) was well visited. It invited people to wonder: How do cemeteries function as public spaces? And, who is included, marginalized, and/or excluded in these spaces?

The conference proved to be a valuable venue to introduce our project to the wider academic audience. The responses to the project were overall positive and very exciting. After this stimulating and thought-provoking experience, we are even more excited to deepen our understanding of the topic at hand. 

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