COVID-19 - Coronavirus disease 2019

Building a collective answer to the funerary challenges generated by the COVID-19 pandemic – COFUNERAIRE

Submission summary

COFUNERAIRE : building a collective answer to the funerary challenges generated by the COVID-19 pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic generates an unprecedented sanitary and social crisis. Numerous individuals are at the present time mobilized to respond to this crisis, among them actors of the funerary realm. Our former research work invites us to take into consideration this unique situation caused by this pandemic as well as its consequences for this specific sector and the bereaved families, and to propose the present research project. This crisis is unprecedented, by the foreseeable number of deaths, but also and foremost by its repercussions on the overall number of deaths. It arises in a globalized world in which public health issues are problematized as risks and actually dealt with confinement measures. By contrast with a catastrophe or an epidemic whose localization and timeline are more readable, each decease on a State territory is concerned, not only those caused by a specific event, here a virus. It is thus necessary to assemble the whole knowledge possible and to act as soon as possible to identify what differs and what is new in today’s situation, in order to enable the different actors – public health authorities, professionals engaged in various sectors, volunteers – to quickly seek answers and alternatives to the difficulties, problems and questions they are inevitably facing.

Consequently, the goal of the project consists in documenting as quickly as possible the reorganizations proposed by the funerary agents during the crisis, according to the constraints and obligations resulting from the management of the pandemic outbreak, in three different countries: France, Italy and Switzerland. Moreover, the goal is to evaluate their impact on bereaved family members, and to analyze their potential inventiveness to cope with this unprecedented situation. This project consequently aims not only at understanding the crisis itself, but also the way out of it and the months that will follow, in order to document practices, resolutions, adjustments and probable conflicts in relation with these situations. An anthropological approach will be adopted, in accordance with the ethical principles observed in the discipline; it will be based on an ethnography – observation, formal and informal interviews – of the work done by the professionals in funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries during the crisis; a series of interviews will also be conducted with family members confronted with funerals’ adjustments.

The COFUNERAIRE project relays on the following hypothesis: according to the scope and length of this sanitary crisis, the consequences in relation with funerary matters will necessitate – and necessitate already – a collective and co-constructed answer that acknowledges and secures the professional interventions; the bodies’ treatment in relation with the sanitary and social recommendations; the funerary rituals at the time of death and during the following months. Accordingly, the project is experimental and original, on at least two aspects: first, it collects first hand data and questions them at the time the crises occurs, notably on ethical issues; second, it compiles brand new information based on concrete experiences, that might help public health authorities and stakeholders to apprehend social issues and figure out solutions during a pandemic, especially for the funerary sector.

Project coordination

Gaëlle Clavandier (CENTRE MAX WEBER)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.



Help of the ANR 168,730 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: April 2020 - 18 Months

Useful links

Explorez notre base de projets financés



ANR makes available its datasets on funded projects, click here to find more.

Sign up for the latest news:
Subscribe to our newsletter