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The Work of the Dead

Peter Pelisek, CC via Flickr, http://bit.ly/1OEglkE
Karl Marx Grave, Highgate Cemetery, London

Why is it that we care for the dead? The philosopher Diogenes suggested that his corpse simply be tossed over the city wall, but it’s an idea that seems unthinkable. Historian Thomas Laqueur says bodies matter because we’ve decided they do - from prehistoric times, regardless of faith or creed. Laqueur’s book explores the ways we’ve ritualized and remembered the dead throughout history. Friday, he joins Doug to explain how our relationship to the dead has helped shape the modern world. (Rebroadcast)

Thomas Laqueur is is the Helen Fawcett Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley. His book is called The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains [Indiebound|Amazon]