The birth of the modern cemetery

‘…… in the course of its history, a society can make a heterotopia that exists and has not ceased to exist operate in a very different way; in fact, each heterotopia has a precise and specific operation within the society, and the same heterotopia can have one operation or another, depending on the synchrony of the culture in which it is found….. I will take as an example the curious heterotopia of the cemetery’

In this essay, I examine the space that Foucault discusses in most detail in his lecture on heterotopia: the cemetery. After providing a brief history of the spaces of the dead, I concentrate on the development of the modern cemetery in nineteenth century England and particularly the work of John Claudius Loudon. I analyse the new operation of the cemetery as a diverse space of utility.

Download essay: Loudon’s modern cemetery pdf

From this:

Les Innocents Cemetery in Paris (mid 16th cemtury)as represented in the 19th century by Hoffbauer
Les Innocents Cemetery in Paris (mid 16th century)as represented in the 19th century by Hoffbauer

To this:

Haycombe Cemetery, Bath (UK) own photograph (2008)


Related resources and links.

More on John Claudius Loudon  (1783-1843)

What makes a cemetery a cemetery? and useful bibliography: Cemetery Research Group, University of York.

Johnson, P. (2008) ‘The Modern Cemetery: a design for life’, Social and Cultural Geography, 9 (7) 777-790.

June 2017


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