Dying Alone and Its Afterlives in Contact-less Sociality

International Conference, 17–19 April 2023

Mika Toyota (Max Planck Institute for Human Development)
Kristine Krause (University of Amsterdam)

The panel discussion on the first day is open to the public; the events on Tuesday and Wednesday are for invitees only. Researchers may participate as guests. If interested, please contact Karola Rockmann (rockmann(at)mpib-berlin.mpg.de).


Invitation to panel discussion
Helping the last move: Caring for the dead nobody wants

on 17 April 2023 3 pm at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development
Lentzeallee 94, 14195 Berlin


Unclaimed dead challenge the living. They contront us with questions about loneliness and isolation, expose inequalities and social fragmentation and mobilize unexpected care beyond bureaucratic or professional duties. What does it mean that there are increasing numbers of unclaimed dead? Who is charged with caring for their disposal, who feels responsible and why? What does it say about how lived lives are valued if their deaths are abandoned? In this panel discussion, scholars, professionals and artists who are involved in caring for the unclaimed dead as representatives of local authorities, social workers or coordinators of special funeral rites will engage with these questions.


The event will be held in German and English with simultaneous translation into both languages. Afterwards we invite you to a reception with finger food.


In the foyer of the Institute you will have opportunity to view the exhibition “residual” by Katie Taylor, shown for the first time in Germany (see below for more information).


We kindly ask you to register by 11 April 2023 at the latest with Karola Rockmann (rockmann(at)mpib-berlin.mpg.de), as places are limited.


Program on 17 April 2023

3 pm Welcome address

  • Ute Frevert, Director of the Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development
  • Mika Toyota, Researcher at the Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and conference organizer


3.30 pm Public panel discussion “Helping the last move: Caring for the dead nobody wants”

  • Joris van Casteren, journalist, poet, writer and coordinator of the foundation “De Eenzame Uitvaart” (The lonely funeral), Amsterdam
  • Christina Martin, District Council funeral officer, South East England, stand-up comedian, and writer, author of the book “Ashes to Admins: Tales from the Caseload of a Council Funeral Officer”
  • Susanne Loke, remedial teacher in the Ruhr district; she reiceived her PhD in social science on “Lonely Dying and Undiscovered Deaths in the City”
  • Pamela Prickett, sociologist, writer and associate professor at the University of Amsterdam, author of the book “The Unclaimed”
  • Moderator: Kristine Krause, anthropologist and associate professor at the University of Amsterdam

5 pm Reception with finger food



Exhibition: “residual”

In the foyer of the Institute, you will have the opportunity on 17 April to see Oxford Brookes University PhD researcher Katie Taylor’s exhibition “residual”, it’s first showing in Germany.

Her work and research explores ideas of absence and presence. What remains of the dead in the world of the living? The exhibition asks viewers to consider the life lived by those who become unidentified remains.

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