In a final step, the database generated by the newspaper analysis (January to June 2018), as well as the CST data were used as primary sources for students’ final papers. A majority of participants decided to work on commemoration in the newspapers, with the following results emerging from their research:
- The newspapers show very distinct approaches to death and commemoration on the regional level. Concerning necrologies, the Saarbrücker Zeitung would only publish very short articles, whereas the Tageblatt might dedicate an entire page to a deceased famous person. The best balance was struck by the Belgian newspaper Grenzecho. In general, is the focus put on deaths of famous or popular people on the local level, as entire articles are dedicated to them, whereas deaths in the international film, music or political scene are put in the “short notices”-section. The two major exceptions for, the first half of 2018, were Paul Bocuse and Stephen Hawking.
- The second, highly interesting finding was, despite the centenary of the end of World War I, the focus in the local press (Luxembourg and Greater Region) was on remembering tragic events from World War II. Yet, were the two World Wars the only events which can be deemed part of a collective memory of the Greater Region. Events which could be deemed part of the global collective memory (the Vietnam War, the Russian Revolution, the Black Death in Europe) appear rather sporadically through the local newspaper landscape, with the World Wars being the only constant.
- The German newspapers Saarbrücker Zeitung and Trierischer Volksfreund offered the most content concerning debates on commemoration, whilst also adding a political dimension (for example anti-Semitism during World War II and the recent resurgence of anti-Semitic violence in Europe). The Saarbrücker Zeitung adds relevance to commemoration, not refraining from expressing its criticism towards today’s society. The most “exotic” content linked to the topic of commemoration and burials, especially the latter, were found in the Trierischer Volksfreund, with articles discussing sea burials, pet cemeteries or the burial of pets in the family grave.
The other four students were focusing on the material culture of the cemetery itself and four very different papers, which were all deemed fit to be forwarded to peer reviewing by the journal Hémecht. Revue d’histoire luxembourgeoise (with minor or major revisions). The topics were the following:
- The history of public health burials (“Sozialbestattungen”) in Luxembourg-City from 1852 to 2014.
- The history of non-confessional funerals in Luxembourg.
- The history of the building styles of columbaria in Luxembourg.
- An analysis of Luxembourg’s very idiosyncratic version of Dark Tourism, linked to cemeteries.
Once the papers will have gone through the revision process, they will be uploaded to this website.
For more information on the R.I.P. Project, please visit www.transmortality.uni.lu
No Undead were harmed in the making of this project.
Authors: Claude Ewert and Sonja Kmec
All pictures were shot by Claude Ewert