A Grave Look at History
The Australian Perspective
Keywords:Australian cemeteries, cultural landscape, identity, intangible heritage, meaning
Cemeteries are seldom what they seem. A headstone tells a brief tale, but what if there are no headstones? Is it possible to extract more than the obvious? The dearth of information most frequently encountered necessitates a more interpretive approach. As documents of social history, Australian burial places have a great capacity to reveal not only how people died, but how they lived. In providing a tangible and evocative link to past communities, the history found in cemeteries acts as an insightful ingredient in shaping cultural identity. By ‘reading’ these cultural landscapes, the wider implications of identity, meaning making and the value of individual belonging and wellbeing can be explored. The notion of ‘place making’ and ‘place meaning’ suggests a bigger responsibility to social cohesion and personal development than may be first considered.
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