Deathscapes in diaspora: Contesting space and negotiating home in contexts of post-migration diversity

Alistair Hunter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The literature on deathscapes has thus far neglected the diversity of mortuary practices resulting from the inherently spatial phenomenon of migration and the increased capacity for transnational activities linking migrant communities with places of origin. Against this sedentarist bias, this article proposes that the end of life is a critical juncture in the settlement process for diasporic communities. On the one hand, practices such as posthumous repatriation may serve to reinforce shared perceptions of temporary presence in host countries. On the other hand, death may be the occasion to lay what are perhaps the deepest foundations for home-making in diaspora, through funeral rituals and memorialisation. However, these latter claims to space in adopted homelands may also be the object of legal and political contestation, as demonstrated through an analysis of disputes in the UK over open-air Hindu funeral pyres and planning permission for a Muslim cemetery. What is at stake is the legitimate symbolic re-inscription of space. As such, diasporic deathscapes are an exemplary site of contestation and negotiation between migrant place-making practices and the domesticating urges of governmental subjects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-261
JournalSocial & cultural geography
Issue number2
Early online date25 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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