Thomas S. Mullaney

Jun 10, 2019

The Chinese Deathscape

Grave Reform in Modern China

Stanford University Press 2019

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The Chinese landscape is dramatically changing. Modernization has drastically altered Chinese infrastructure, urban zones, waterways, and even rural spaces. These changes have also affected Chinese burial practices and the resting places of the deceased. In The Chinese Deathscape: Grave Reform in Modern China (Stanford University Press, 2019), collaborators explore the various histories of the modern loss of Chinese burial space. The edited project is part of Stanford University Press’ commitment to Digital Humanities, which are cutting edge peer-reviewed born digital volumes. Contributors combine narrative analysis, visualized data, and dynamic maps with exceptional ease to introduce readers to infant burial practices in late imperial China, grave and cemetery relocation in Shanghai from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and grave relocation during the contemporary period. In my conversation with editor Thomas S. Mullaney, Professor at Stanford University, we discuss common Chinese burial practices, the logics behind grave relocation, using historical data with interactive maps, the pre-history of absence, the importance of Stanford University Press and its digital humanities efforts, and the relationship between researcher and developers.

Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. He is the author of Interpreting Islam in China: Pilgrimage, Scripture, and Language in the Han Kitab (Oxford University Press, 2017). He is currently working on a monograph entitled The Cinematic Lives of Muslims, and is the editor of the forthcoming volumes Muslims in the Movies: A Global Anthology (ILEX Foundation) and New Approaches to Islam in Film (Routledge). You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at

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