Kami Fletcher and Ashley Towle

Jan 11, 2024

Grave History

Death, Race, and Gender in Southern Cemeteries

University of Georgia Press 2023

Kami Fletcher and Ashley Towle’s edited collection Grave History: Death, Race and Gender in Southern Cemeteries (University of Georgia Press, 2023), demonstrates how Jim Crow laws extended into the realms of the dead. Cemeteries throughout the Southern states either relegated Black funerals to the margins in existing cemeteries or excluded the community altogether, often citing the excuse that inclusion would create unrest amongst white lot-holders, and disturb the peace of the cemetery. Burial spaces become demonstrative of oppression, but could also signal resistance to oppression. This impressive text provides an essential primer in African American cemetery history and illustrates how the Black community created frameworks of community support to ensure that homegoing services were dignified and affordable. Chapters also explore the historic importance of African American burial grounds, where grave markers are uniquely important to the recreation of otherwise poorly documented communities. The chapters also lean into the problems intrinsic to interpreting the material culture of oppression, where historic Black identities risk becoming fixed within narratives of victimhood.

The book includes workshop guidance for teachers, for use with students at all stages in the education process.

Dr Julie Rugg is Director of the Cemetery Research Group, University of York, UK.

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Julie Rugg

Dr Julie Rugg is a Reader in Social Policy at the University of York, UK. She has an abiding interest in the ways in which societies come to an accommodation with mortality. The Cemetery Research website connects scholars with similar interests and in multiple disciplines from around the world.

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