Grand Parade

This conference was postponed due to Covid 19. We still plan to run it, but the new date is to be confirmed.


Histories, Narratives and Cultures of Death, Dying and Anticipatory Grief

Since its emergence as a field of historical enquiry during the 1970s, cultural histories of death have raised far-reaching questions about how different cultures understand death, dying and ritual practices concerning the dead body and burial. Changing conceptions and practices about death have also necessarily entailed probing questions about life and what it means to be human.

This symposium offers a timely opportunity to reflect on the ways in which the more established cultural histories are currently being reconfigured, particularly in their engagement with contemporary cultural politics concerned with end of life care, anticipatory grief and ethical debates regarding dying and assisted dying. Consideration here will also want to take note of recent developments like the ‘good death’ movements, ‘Dying Matters’ campaigns and emergence of so-called ‘death cafes’. Contemporary Western attitudes reveal an incoherent and contradictory picture, representing a constellation of beliefs, creeds and assumptions about death, dead bodies and human remains in modern culture. Most of the time these ‘everyday’ contradictions co-exist undisturbed, though at other times they are vigorously challenged and contested.

This inter and multidisciplinary symposium will facilitate discussion and reflection on a range of issues that encompass histories, narratives and cultures of death, dying and anticipatory grief – issues that include critical perspectives on private and public experiences.

The symposium brings together UK and international academics, clinicians, practitioners, policy-makers and professionals in the creative arts sector to cover themes that will include but are by no means limited to:

Changing historical and cultural practices concerning death, dying and end of life care – meaning-making rituals and representations in Western and non-Western contexts


  • Public and private memorials, including pet cemeteries
  • Social media and the ‘after lives’ of the dead
  • Anticipatory acts of grief and remembering lives
  • Patient narratives in end of life care settings: oral history, reminiscences, poetry and art
  • ‘Everyday’ cultures of dying and grieving within the family
  • Policy-making and the ‘Dying Matters’ campaigns
  • The ‘good death’ movements and ‘death cafes’
  • ‘Legitimate’, sanctioned and ‘unsanctioned’ forms of bereavement


Keynotes: Professor Douglas Davies, Durham University.

Professor Julie-Marie Strange, Durham University. 

Dr Shahaduz Zaman, Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

Featuring: Workshops by ONCA Arts Charity and Brighton NHS Trust.

Departure Lounge installation.

Roundtable discussion with key practitioners, policy-makers and academic researchers.

Refreshments on arrival and sandwich lunch provided. Full programme available on registration.

To register, book and pay a fee of £12 click here

Students / unwaged can register for free by emailing

The symposium is co-produced by the Centre for Memory, Narrative and Histories and Healthy Futures at the University of Brighton, ONCA Arts Charity, Brighton NHS Trust and Brighton and Hove City Council.

Funded by the Centre for Memory, Narrative and Histories and Higher Education Innovation Fund, Public Engagement, via Healthy Futures.

For further information contact:

Dr Deborah Madden: