In Making Space for the Dead: Catacombs, Cemeteries, and the Reimagining of Paris, 1780-1830
(Cornell University Press, 2019), Dr. Erin-Marie Legacey
, Assistant Professor of History at Texas Tech University, explores the transformation of burial practices in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Public health concerns under the Old Regime prompted reforms in how the French buried their dead, with millions of bones carted away from church graveyards to the deserted mining tunnels underneath the city. After the Revolution, the Catacombs, as well as newly established cemeteries such as Père Lachaise, became more than simply places for the disposal of the deceased. Amidst the turmoil and upheaval wrought by the Revolution, these burial sites became public spaces for Parisians to, as Dr. Legacey writes, “assert and assess their radical break with the past, to reconsider a new set of moeurs in the wake of that break, to reconnect with their fellow Parisians, both alive and dead, and to reimagine their past and its relationship to the present.”
Beth Mauldin is an Associate Professor of French at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Her research interests include French cultural studies, film, and the social and cultural history of Paris.