Following the Storm: Ethical Considerations for Historic Cemetery Disruptions after Natural Disasters

Author(s): Christine Halling; Ryan Seidemann

Year: 2018


Louisiana is known for its historic and iconic cemeteries which feature above ground monuments, vaults, and tombs. However, equal numbers of cemeteries are in-ground, and are often lost or forgotten. Due to the accessibility of the above-ground cemeteries, these spaces make for easy targets of vandalism, are used for religious worship, impede construction efforts, and become impacted by natural disasters. The in-ground cemeteries are often encountered in urban development and during disaster reconstruction. Each of these scenarios present ethical conundrums when planning archaeological responses. For example, when do religious practices venture too far and become vandalism? When should urban development become more important than the history and protection of the dead? When a disaster requires months of effort, how are recovery efforts and cemetery preservation balanced? Working in Louisiana’s historic cemeteries presents a unique sphere where interaction with the dead and living communities is intertwined so deeply, they cannot be separated. This presentation addresses that situation, following the recent natural disasters so often encountered in Louisiana; and how ethical considerations and the affected communities succeed when both groups align with intended action.

Cite this Record

Following the Storm: Ethical Considerations for Historic Cemetery Disruptions after Natural Disasters. Christine Halling, Ryan Seidemann. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443805)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.735; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -73.389; max lat: 39.572 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22175