February 10, 2018: Alison Bell – “Front Porches of the Dead”

The speaker for our February 10 program will be Alison Bell.  She teaches Anthropology at Washington & Lee University.  She holds a Ph.D in anthropology from the University of Virginia and an M.A. in anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley.  She is a Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Residential Fellow and has been studying cemeteries in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.  

Ms. Bell is currently writing a book for the University of Tennessee Press, tentatively called The Vital Dead: Making Meaning, Identity, and Community through Cemeteries. The book will focus on some recent changes which she has observed in the cemeteries in the Valley of Virginia, commonly called the Shenandoah Valley.

In the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and well beyond, profound changes are underway in cemeteries: grave markers are still etched with images of bibles and flowers, but motorcycles, monsters, cats, and footballs are also appearing. Inscriptions (“Gone Hunting for the Lord” or “Had a Good Ride”) and objects lefts on grave sites — bird feeders, whirligigs, letters to the deceased — echo this florescence.

The meeting will take place from 1:30 pm-3:30 pm at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The address of the Church is 1275 Timberwood Blvd., Charlottesville, VA. It is located on the corner of Airport Road and Timberwood. Coming from U.S. 29, the entrance is on the right (north) side of Airport Road immediately before you reach the church. Drive to the back of the building where you will see the entrance to the Family History Center.

Hope to see you there!