Call for Paper:
10th International Conference on Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society
Mortal Histories: Death in Mass Culture

11-14 June 2014
The University of Hong Kong

Today, images of death and dying pervade the mass media and popular culture. Smart technologies have brought a new proximity to the death of those we do not know. At the same time, death has become increasingly institutionalized and hidden from view. Mortal Histories explores the prehistory of this divergence and the simultaneous familiarity with and estrangement from death in the modern world. The symposium (part of the 10th International Conference on Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society) considers the history of ‘death’ and ‘dying’ in relation to the emergence of industrialization, nationalism, mass culture, urbanization, total war, and empire. Engaging with recent cross-disciplinary work in history, cultural studies, sociology and anthropology, the workshop tracks shifting attitudes towards death and dying through the modern period to the present, with a particular focus on the socio-cultural and political forces that have shaped our understanding of death. Attention is also paid to the material culture of death in modernity.

We welcome papers of no more than 20 minutes by those working in history, anthropology, cultural studies, art, literature, medicine, music, socio-legal studies, social policy, sociology, philosophy, psychology, and religious studies. We are particularly interested in comparative approaches and welcome contributions that deal with non-Western settings, for example, burial practices in colonial contexts and metropolitan-indigenous interactions. Possible themes include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Death and the public sphere
• Nation-building and memorial practices
• Industrialization and death
• Death in the city
• Colonialism and death
• Execution and the state
• Places of memory
• Epidemics and mortality
• Death and medicalization
• Crime and violent death
• Death in mass culture
• Work and death
• Histories of the funeral home
• Burial, cremation, and body disposal
• Hospitals and hospices
• The ‘aura’ of death
• Euthanasia, assisted death, and suicide
• Death, the Internet, and social media
• Technology and the afterlife
• Mortality and art
• Fictions of death
• Death and film

Submission of abstract is online via the conference website at:

The deadline for abstract submission is 30 September 2013. Notification of acceptance by 30 November 2013. For further enquires about the Mortal Histories Theme, please contact Ms. Maria Sin at The Centre for the Humanities and Medicine, HKU: