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Contested futures – the development of West Norwood Cemetery into the 21st Century: a material culture perspective

Deepwell, M.; (2011) Contested futures – the development of West Norwood Cemetery into the 21st Century: a material culture perspective. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

In the context of the challenges facing historical cemeteries in England, this thesis poses the question of how issues such as space shortages, decay and lack of income have developed over the last century, and examines how these issues are or how they can be addressed in order to provide a viable future for such cemeteries. Based on an in-depth ethnography of West Norwood Cemetery in London, with an emphasis on phenomenological exploration of its landscape and material culture, this thesis addresses the development, contemporary significance and situation of West Norwood Cemetery in order to gain insight into both its’ own and, by extension, other cemeteries’ contested futures. First the historical context of the debate, the methodological strategies and theoretical framework of the thesis, as well as the main field-site are introduced. Here a discussion of the material culture perspective and phenomenological approach demonstrates the rationale for the methodology adopted, as well as placing the ethnography in its anthropological context. West Norwood Cemetery is explored through a thick ethnographic description of a phenomenological walk through the cemeteryscape. This leads to an analysis of the historical development of West Norwood Cemetery starting with the issues faced in English urban churchyards at the start of the 19th century, the garden cemetery movement, burial in perpetuity and the socio-cultural context within which cemetery development took place. Drawing on a variety of historical and ethnographic sources the subsequent biographical account of the site demonstrates how past practices laid the foundation for those issues which dominate the debate surrounding West Norwood Cemetery and similar sites today. The latter part of this thesis seeks to contribute to this debate by examining the contemporary situation of the site with a focus on the contested nature of the cemeteryscape, heritage practices and different stakeholder groups. It concludes by exploring how new developments in disposal culture and cemetery design may influence the future development of the site.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Contested futures – the development of West Norwood Cemetery into the 21st Century: a material culture perspective
Language:English
Additional information:Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology

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