Decolonizing Death and Rituals of Care
November 9, 2020

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Decolonizing Death and Rituals of Care:

With the Collective for Radical Death Studies & devynn emory & Anthony Hatch

Monday, November 9, 7:30pm


The Collective for Radical Death Studies (CRDS), an international, professional organization formed to decolonize Death Studies and radicalize death practice, and devynn emory, a  choreographer and ​Covid-19 hospice nurse, came together for a conversation moderated by Dr. Anthony Hatch concerning practices and visualizations of death in radical and decolonizing contexts. This event was in dialogue with Arthur Jafa’s APEX, included in the exhibition.


The Collective for Radical Death Studies (CRDS) is a group of Scholars, Funeral Directors, Death Work Practitioners, Activists and Students of Death studies working to challenge, decolonize, and de-center the presence of whiteness in the field of Death Studies. Through interrogating and intervening in Death Studies in theory and practice, the CRDS seeks to radicalize engrained perceptions of death by way of research, writing and community work. Engaged in analyzing death, mourning, burial and death, both in the past and present, the CRDS’ work includes the creation of a Radical Death Canon to be used as a tool to decolonize our understanding of death, dying, and associated rituals of care. Additionally, the collective works actively towards increasing diversity in death scholarship and conversations, and also serves as a resource for marginalized individuals and communities in relation to death and end-of-life rituals.


devynn emory is a choreographer, dance artist, bodyworker, ceremonial guide, acute care and hospice nurse currently working as a COVID-19 nurse. emory’s performance work draws from their multiple in-between states of being, both as a mixed-race indigenous and transgender person and in holding space for liminal bodies bridging multiple planes of transition. This liminal space of transit also has resonance in emory’s experience as a nurse, healer and hospice nurse where they spent hours assisting others moving towards or away from death. Institutionally trained, emory’s practice is committed to formalism as a tool for structural reclamation, challenging how a predominantly white aesthetic lens has created patterns and a legitimization of subjugation within their own body. In creating spaces for queer and othered bodies, emory’s investment in radical pattern making functions as a “survival skill,” creating spaces of collective support for queer and othered bodies to locate the self, and interrogate historic and contemporary systems.  


Anthony Ryan Hatch, P.h.D. is a sociologist and Associate Professor and Chair of the Science in Society Program at Wesleyan University where is he is also affiliate faculty in the Department of African American Studies, the College of the Environment, and the Department of Sociology. Dr. Hatch is an expert in health systems, medical technology, and social inequalities. From Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Hatch began his career in community-based public health research and education at Emory University, working on projects related to drug use, HIV/AIDS, and mental health. He received his AB in philosophy from Dartmouth College and both his MA and PhD in sociology from the University of Maryland at College Park.