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Durham e-Theses
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Alkaline Hydrolysis: The Future of British Death-Styles

ROBINSON, GEORGINA,MAY (2023) Alkaline Hydrolysis: The Future of British Death-Styles. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This research traces funerary change in a rapidly changing social world and principally concerns the introduction of alkaline hydrolysis (AH) as a new funerary custom in the United Kingdom (UK). It is the first full study of AH in the British context, completed in early 2023, on the cusp of AH’s introduction for the first time in the UK. Framed by the global climate crisis, the thesis considers the historical, sociocultural, and worldview context of contemporary Britain in order to assess how British death-styles may soon shift to become more sustainable in line with sustainable lifestyles. The thesis traces funerary change over the last three centuries in the UK, considers how funerary activities fit within the environmental discourse, and assesses how British worldviews influence choice of funeral. Presenting findings from currently unique fieldwork in the USA, the research examines how AH may be offered as a funerary option in the contemporary British context. By considering the levels of British popular awareness of funerary innovations, including practices associated with funerary ‘waste’ and the availability of different funerary options, the research proposes how better public education of funerary innovations may occur. Ultimately, the thesis argues that life- and death-styles are increasingly aligning in the contemporary British context, framed by contemporary environmental concern and the influence of personal worldview. The research argues that contemporary British funerary choices are dictated by a diverse range of considerations and thus religious worldviews can no longer be described as overarchingly having the most permeating influence on British funerary choices. As such, as an environmental alternative to contemporary burial and cremation practices, the research argues that AH is likely to be adopted in the UK as an environmental and economical form of body disposal, primarily by those who currently choose cremation for non-religious reasons.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2023
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:03 Aug 2023 14:12

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