"Cities of the Dead" – Greenwood Cemetary in NOLA

Greenwood Cemetery

Originally uploaded by Kaylin I.

Kaylin I just posted a series of beautiful (HDR?) photos from Greenwood Cemetary in New Orleans. Like a lot of cemeteries in the floodplain/wetland South of the United States, burial customs moved from “six feet down” to mausoleums above ground. These ‘cities of the dead’ are often gorgeous, as you can see in my favorite of her (?) photos, above.

I’ll take the moment to note, on a personal level, that while I continue to make the case that elaborate funerary sites, urbanization, and agriculture are all closely interrelated, (‘cities of the dead,’ again), I’m hardly the first to note this. Monsieur Durkheim‘s own academic mentor, Fustel de Coulanges, pointed out much the same thing in his classic text “The Ancient City, [available here for free download]” and Lewis Mumford‘s classic history of the city as a social form practically begins with a consideration of the necropolis.

In the former, Coulanges ties funerary rites to the inheritance of patrimony; in the latter, Mumford – incorrectly, I believe, but insightfully nonetheless – identifies funerary rites and the need for continued care of the dead as a reason for permanent settlement.


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