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Planning for the disposal of the dead

Title: Planning for the disposal of the dead.
Name(s): Basmajian, Carlton, author
Coutts, Christopher, author
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: serial
Date Issued: 2010
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Problem: Concurrent with the dramatic increase in the nation's elderly population in the coming decades will be an increased need to dispose of our dead. An issue with religious, cultural, and economic salience, disposal of the dead is not typically considered a planning problem. Deciding how to handle the deceased spans a set of public issues that planners are well equipped to confront. While cremation rates are on the rise, burial is, and is projected to remain, the preferred alternative for a majority of the US population. The reality of cemeteries competing for urban space will likely make the disposal of the dead a significant issue for many communities. Purpose: We outline the key issues related to cemeteries and burial planners are likely to face and that planning researchers should investigate. We then describe a number of alternatives to the traditional cemetery and how planners might intervene in planning for the dead. Methods: Literature review based issue discussion. Results and conclusions: Alternatives to the cemetery are emerging but remain limited. Laws and public perceptions will need to change. There is a need for detailed case studies that explore how the design of burial grounds can be transformed to better integrate the landscapes of death and burial into existing communities and research that explores how ordinances can be rewritten to permit the introduction of alternative methods of disposal. Takeaway for practice: As population demographics change and environmental concerns intensify in the coming years, demand for space that can sensitively balance a diverse set of social, cultural, and environmental expectations will make local land use decisions an important part of death and burial. Solutions to the challenge of interring the dead are found in a handful of alternatives: Natural burials, mausolea, columbaria, multiple-use cemeteries, and the reuse of existing burial sites. This paper provides planners with information about each of these alternatives, examples of how mortality and burial can be incorporated into the planning process, suggestions for avoiding environmental externalities, and ideas for better integrating the landscapes of death into community life.
Identifier: FSU_migr_durp_faculty_publications-0007 (IID), 10.1080/01944361003791913 (DOI)
Keywords: Cemeteries, planning, land use, burial, death
Note: This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the Journal of the American Planning Association, 2010. Copyright © American Planning Association. Final published version is available online at:
Citation: Basmajian, C., & Coutts, C. (2010). Planning for the disposal of the dead. Journal of the American Planning Association, 76(3), 305-317.
Subject(s): Social sciences
Cities and towns -- Study and teaching
City planning
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU
Is Part of Series: Department of Urban and Regional Planning Faculty Publications.
Is Part Of: Journal of the American Planning Association.
Issue: 3, 76

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Basmajian, C., & Coutts, C. (2010). Planning for the disposal of the dead. Journal Of The American Planning Association. Retrieved from