I’m a great fan of Laurie Taylor’s wonderful Radio Program “Thinking Allowed,” which reviews, on a weekly basis, recent sociological scholarship. It’s a great way to keep up on a wide variety of scholarship, when you are only generally interested. For instance, I just listened to a great show about the ‘chav’ stereotype in Britain, and how it is part of an overall demonization of working class culture. They didn’t bring up the proposed etymology that the word ‘chav’ comes from Romani (aka, ‘gypsies’) word ‘chavo,’ or ‘Boy,’ and likely therefore began with an association between negative young working-class masculine behavior, and the nearly universally-despised Romani. But that’s the sort of thing that make me keep listening.
But even better, sometimes they focus on something that is part of your primary focus. In my work, of course, that means either Cambodia, Buddhism, or Death. Or maybe Religion, or Ritual. The podcast I just finished listening to was based on contemporary grave-side behavior and interviews, and continues the recent challenge to the received notion that there is a dominant ‘death taboo’ associated with impurity, decomposition, and contagion. Here’s the summary (second part of the paragraph deals with the part i’m interested in):
Cities are growing at an enormous rate all over the world. As they wrestle with overcrowding, pollution, resource vulnerability and an increasing gulf between the rich and poor what will be the dominant factor to define them? Which forces will shape the experience of urban life for the individual and will our imagination and creativity enable cities to survive into the future? The sociologist Sophie Watson and the geographer Matthew Gandy join Laurie Taylor to discuss the future of the city.
Also, the taboo of the body in the cemetery. Kate Woodthorpe reveals her research into what remains unmentionable at the graveside.