The Department of Theology and Religion is one of the very best in the UK with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and employability of our students. The Department also hosts the Centre for Death and Life Studies (Prof Douglas Davies as Director) with links across numerous Durham Departments and far beyond.
Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Digital Death with a particular emphasis on the historical and contemporary place of online platforms hosting issues of death and funerary titles and their influence on ideas of mortality. The project is entitled ‘Digital Death: Transforming History, Rituals and Afterlife (DiDe)’. This project arose from a successful response to a call for research proposals on the theme of ‘Transformations: Social and cultural dynamics in the digital age’ advertised by CHANSE (Collaboration of Humanities and Social Sciences – A European based collective partly funded by HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) and NORFACE (New Opportunities for Research Funds Agency Co-operation in Europe)). Led by a colleague at Helsinki University in Finland – Asst. Prof. Dr Johanna Sumiala, it includes partners at Denmark’s Aarus University – Asst Prof Dr Dorthe Christensen, and Bucharest in Romania -Ms Adela Toplean, along with Durham in England where Professor Douglas Davies is Principal Investigator. There will be a postgraduate assistant at each university.
Durham’s part in the overall project falls under the heading of ‘Histories of Digital Death.’ Working with the Principal Investigator, Prof Douglas Davies, the research assistant will engage in data gathering of online and offline ethnographic materials, notably interviews with funeral service providers, civic and ecclesiastical officiants, crematorium staff, and bereaved persons. Some archival research will make full use of The Archives of the Cremation Society of Great Britain lodged at Durham University Library. Methods of research and analysis will include symbolic and content analyses of emergent ritual practice, and on how the digitalisation of death shapes emergent worldviews as frames for personal identity, digital afterl! ives, and potential shifts in notion of destiny. This will include a critique of how digital death may transform notions of immortality.
The successful applicant will be expected to work with Prof. Davies (Principal Investigator) and also liaise with the overall DiDe team which has Dr Johanna Sumiala (Helsinki) as the overall leader of the project, as well as the other colleagues in Denmark and Romania. Much will depend on close collaboration with these with the successful Durham Postdoc being expected to help organise events, as well as attend conferences.