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From Life to Death: Understanding Human Behaviour with Anthropologist Dr Hannah Gould

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4th July 2024

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About this episode

Ever wondered what an anthropologist who studies death really does? Join me as I chat with Dr Hannah Gould, a fascinating cultural anthropologist who dives deep into the diverse rituals and beliefs surrounding death across the globe. 

In this episode of "Don't Be Caught Dead," I have the pleasure of welcoming Dr Hannah Gould, an anthropologist with a unique focus: the stuff of death and the death of stuff. 

Hannah's research delves into how different cultures approach death, dying, and the material world that surrounds these universal experiences. We explore what it means to be a modern anthropologist and how her upbringing and education led her to this intriguing field.

Hannah shares her journey from aspiring philosopher to passionate anthropologist, driven by a chance class and a profound love for understanding human behaviour. We discuss how death is both a universal and culturally distinct experience, shaped by rituals, stories, and practices that vary dramatically around the world.

This conversation covers everything from Hannah's personal experiences with death in her family to the broader societal implications of how we handle death. We also touch on the often overlooked but vital roles played by those in the death care industry and the ongoing need for better regulation and appreciation of these essential services.

Remember; You may not be ready to die, but at least you can be prepared.

Take care,

Catherine

Show notes

Guest Bio
Podcast Guest - Image
Dr Hannah Gould

Anthropologist

Melbourne Postdoctoral Fellow | The University of Melbourne Fellow | DeathTech Research Team

Project Manager, Modern & Contemporary Japan Collaborative, JPP President, Australian Death Studies Society

From Hannah's website:

I am an anthropologist interested in death, Buddhism, and material culture. My research spans new traditions and technologies of Buddhist death rites, the lifecycle of religious materials, and modern lifestyle movements. In sum, I study the stuff of death and death of stuff. 

I hold a PhD in Anthropology at the University of Melbourne and a MSc from Oxford University. For my doctoral research, I worked in Japanese Buddhist altar stores, to investigate how cultural traditions around death can themselves ‘die’, be replaced, or transformed. The research is published inWhen Death Falls Apart, out now with the University of Chicago Press. 

I currently hold a Melbourne Postdoctoral Fellowship (2022-2025) for the project “Transnational Futures of Deathcare in the Asia-Pacific”.

Summary

What we cover:

  • Introduction to Dr Hannah Gould and her work as a cultural anthropologist.
  • The transition from studying philosophy and linguistics to anthropology.
  • Exploring the universal and diverse nature of death rituals across cultures.
  • Personal anecdotes about family travel and early encounters with different cultures.
  • Reflections on societal attitudes towards death and the death care industry.
  • The impact of COVID-19 on the funeral industry and death care practices.
  • Insights into the need for better regulation and support for those working in death care.

Transcript

1
00:00:00,000 --> 00:00:03,150
Catherine: Today we have
Hannah Gould joining us on the

2
00:00:03,160 --> 00:00:04,640
Don't Be Caught Dead podcast.

3
00:00:05,509 --> 00:00:11,880
Hannah is an anthropologist and as
described on her website, I study the

4
00:00:11,890 --> 00:00:14,589
stuff of death and the death of stuff.

5
00:00:15,699 --> 00:00:16,389
Welcome

6
00:00:16,589 --> 00:00:17,530
Hannah: to the podcast,

7
00 ... Read More

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