AGM 2019: Call for papers

Cemeteries are being used in very diverse ways.

We are familiar with the primary function of a cemetery: a place where we can bury the dead and where relatives may find the time and space to grieve.

However, in the past cemeteries have always been used in many other ways as well, for example as community grounds, investment properties, open and public spaces.

Our ancestors never ceased to create cemeteries, graves and memorials for eternity.

Today, we combine the care for the dead with a focus on new values, such as the care for our funerary heritage, the rising demands for recreation areas and a greener and more
silent environment, the needs to maintain and enhance biodiversity and the needs for new ways of commemorating the deceased.

Consequently, the ideas and opinions of users have also become much more important. All these elements create new challenges and issues for managers of (historic) burial
grounds and heritage care takers, such as different ways of use, reuse and shared use.

More than ever, planning and follow-up of new approaches proves necessary. This conference aims to focus on these complex matters.


Submit your research papers dealing with any of the following thematic areas:

A. Mapping of values and social interests

Methodologies for valuation: The research and the used methodology are at the centre here. Which values do historical burial grounds consist of? Are the values of active cemeteries different from those of closed cemeteries? What methods and considerations are involved to determine the values of a historical cemetery, a person, the park design, fauna and flora? Are the results of these studies comparable and usable in the context of scientific research and decision making?

Social desiderata: Public engagement is often a crucial element in the success or failure of heritage conservation. Who are the stakeholders and what are their wishes? What are the desires of the next of kin and the mourning? Which other social groups use heritage cemeteries and what do they expect of that public space? Which methods are to be used for those enquiries and what are the conclusions?

B. Putting valuation and social desiderata into practice

Best and worst cases of larger or smaller cemeteries demonstrate how the primary function of remembrance together with the values of heritage, desires and responsibilities can lead up to a
specific vision for the future. In order to find out to what extent this vision is feasible, a few questions need to be asked:

How can we translate the value assessment and the stakeholders desiderata into a masterplan for the future? Is the primary function of remembrance reconcilable with the values and desires of various groups of users? How do we decide which values take precedence over other desires? Do we rank our care for the dead differently against the heritage experience in an open cemetery than in a cemetery closed for future burials?

What are the experiences of a shared use of cemetery grounds? Where lie the boundaries of the permissible?

Are financial resources defining instruments in the decision making process concerning maintenance, decay and restoration? And what if no decisions are made? Is the maintenance of a heritage cemetery more justified if more stakeholders are using the site?

How does citizen participation fit within this vision of the future? What are the experiences with the reuse of heritage graves? Can relatives contribute to the maintenance of heritage cemeteries? If so, how? Do we challenge the citizens enough in taking responsibility for the space they use? How do we facilitate citizen participation in the management vision?

How willing are we to hand over responsibilities and where lies the boundary between the  responsibility of the owner and citizen participation?

Abstract submission instructions

  • To submit your paper, fill in the online form
  • The scientific board selects the papers based on their relevance for the conference theme.
  • Abstract submission deadline: March 1, 2019
  • Abstract text length should be maximum 4000 characters and should be submitted in English.
  • Maximum lecture time: 20 minutes.
  • The main language for the conference, abstracts and papers is English. There will be no simultaneous interpretation.
  • The scientific board has the right to publish the name of the author, the title, the paper and the abstract. Further instructions will be given later.
  • Selected papers that will not be held as a lecture, can be presented within a poster session. Modalities will be given later.
  • Please note that there will be time for questions and answers. The discussion will be in English.

The scientific board consists of

  • Dr. Andreas Demey (City of Ghent, Parcs and Public Gardens Service)
  • MSc. Sophie Derom (City of Ghent, Heritage Buildings and Architecture Service)
  • Dr. Tamara Ingels (Free University Brussels, Grafzerkje vzw)
  • MSc. Joeri Mertens (Flanders Heritage, president of the Scientific Board Ghent2019)
  • Dr. Andreea Pop (Scientific Representative ASCE)
  • Dr. Linda Van Santvoort (University Ghent, Epitaaf vzw)
  • Drs. Peter Van Wichelen (Province of Eastern Flanders, Department of Heritage)
  • MSc. Anne-Marie Verhofsté (City of Ghent, Heritage Buildings and Architecture Service)