Monday, March 18, 2019

The Deathscapes of China

The huge level of development in twenty-first century China has been bad news for the dead. The high premium on land in the country has resulted in a kind of graveyard gentrification, where those who had thought they had reached their final resting place have had their graves forcibly relocated to other locations. In fact around ten million graves have been exhumed and moved in just the last ten years.

Chinese Deathscape: Grave Reform in Modern China by Thomas S. Mullaney, Professor of Chinese History at Stanford University, explores the reasons behind this modern policy of grave relocation and burial reform in China. The essay examines the incentives and punishments imposed by the central government to encourage regions to meet their grave relocation quotas. It also looks at how these grave relocations have been reported by the media and have been perceived by the Chinese people.

Accompanying the essay is an interactive map of the locations around China where graves have been exhumed. The size of the markers on the map reflects the number of graves relocated at each location. The annotated locations in the text are particularly impressive. If you click on an underlined passage in the essay then the map will center on the mentioned location. In addition a line is drawn from the text to its actual location on the interactive map. If you select locations on the map you can view details on the date of the relocation and the numbers of graves exhumed.

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