LaShaya Howie @ USL

“Death Work”

LaShaya Howie | PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology

Discussant: Zachary Lazarus | PhD Student, Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice

Wednesday, April 20, 4:30pm – 6:00pm CST

Location: Haskell 101 and Zoom

To receive a copy of the pre-circulated paper or for the zoom link, please email

Paper Abstract: “Death Work” follows the preceding chapter to document the material practices of death care aside from bodywork. It focuses on the bureaucratic duties (i.e. liaising with government agencies and insurance companies) and ceremonial components (i.e. arranging and conducting funerals and memorials). Moreover, this chapter brings together the varied ways that funeral professionals describe, understand, and perform their labor. Their insights ethnographically ground an elaboration of my concept of death work, which includes but exceeds “official” duties of death care while also accounting for modes of arguably specialized expertise, which practitioners often attribute to being Black and having a mostly Black customer base with specific needs. The chapter also asks, what kind of labor is death work? It argues that death work is multifaceted, embodied, somewhat obscure, professionalized care work.  

*This convening is open to all invitees regardless of vaccination status and, because of ongoing health risks to the unvaccinated, those who are unvaccinated are expected to adopt the risk mitigation measures advised by public health officials (masking and social distancing, etc.). Public convening may not be safe for all and carries a risk for contracting COVID-19, particularly for those unvaccinated. Participants will not know the vaccination status of others, including venue staff, and should follow appropriate risk mitigation measures.

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