Celebrities and cemeteries: Death as the newest commodity

Emily Meller


This paper explores the place of a cemetery in a supposedly secular society. It shows that the commoditisation of death has allowed a traditionally religious space to transcend this category to become an integral part of modern Sydney. Drawing on Bruno Latour, it explores how the internal contradictions in the modern constitution are accountable for its current position. Wright’s theory of progress is a starting point for explaining how consumerism has enveloped the cemetery. Foucault’s theory of power and Marx’s critique of capitalism provide a theoretical basis for the argument that even in death people seek power in the hope that they can contribute to a future society that has ‘progressed’ further than our own. The objective is to show how a postmodernist critique of this process is partly what has contributed to the proliferation of celebrity culture in the cemetery. Only with a new perspective can we hope to escape the disintegration of society that is inevitable if ‘progress’ and ‘postmodernism’ continue to dominate our discourse.

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