Wednesday 7
Biodiversity and Ecosystem services supporting urban resilience - a global perspective
Pamela Muehlman
› 11:35 - 12:30 (55min)
› JOFFRE 1-2
Urban Resilience and the Accommodation of Cemeteries and Funeral/Mourning Rituals in the City of Johannesburg
Tsepang Leuta  1@  
1 : University of the Witwatersrand  (WITS)  -  Website
Private Bag 3 2050 WITS Johannesburg, South Africa -  Afrique du Sud

The concept of resilience is used by diverse disciplines as an approach to analyze ecological as well as social-ecological systems. As such, it promotes research efforts across disciplines and between science and policy. While there is an important body of academic literature debating the role of strategic planning in reinforcing cities' resilience, little academic work linking land use planning and urban resilience exists. Although mortality is inevitable, cemeteries are under the radar when it comes to planning. Very little academic work has been published regarding socio-economic problems facing cemetery planning and provisioning in the South African context. From studied literature, it has been identified that a gap exists that promotes an understanding of the implications of urban resilience for cemetery planning. Another missing strand is of linking the concepts of resilience, green infrastructure and cemeteries, and most importantly, in studying them through the approach of complex adaptive systems with a social-ecological systems view.

It is against this backdrop it is useful to critically explore what cemetery planning means for urban resilience, and how an urban resilience perspective can help to reconceptualise cemetery planning. In this study, the concept of resilience is expanded from its original ecological perspective to further recognize the linkages of the natural and social environments through linking it with the concepts of green infrastructure and cemeteries. The proposed study therefore addresses the subject of provisioning and use of cemeteries, and their implications for urban resilience, with special attention to how their organization together with dominant funeral practices affect social resilience. The argument being that relationships possibly exist between social resilience and the way in which cemeteries are provided, used and managed. The study will ascertain whether cemeteries are planned and managed in line with green infrastructure principles (e.g. multi-functionality and accessibility), and will look at these links to the ideas of urban resilience.

A case study method using qualitative analysis will be conducted. The study employs a comparative analysis of two cemeteries in the City of Johannesburg, South Africa. In-depth interviews will be conducted with relevant stakeholders such as the Joburg City Parks who are responsible for the provisioning of cemeteries; managers of these cemeteries; religious and cultural leaders in the selected communities; organizations mandated with promoting and protecting the rights of cultural, religious communities; institutions conducting research on cemetery challenges facing urban municipalities; funeral parlours; and households (predominant users of these cemeteries) who have recently lost loved ones. These interviews will explore whether and how future cemetery planning and allocation in the City of Johannesburg is aligned with urban resilience and green infrastructure principles, and identify plans to cope with future burial space demands; understand perceptions of communities concerning cemetery provisioning and use, with respect to their religious beliefs and cultural practices; and the role of cemeteries within communities.

By closely examining cemeteries and funeral/mourning practices, this study will shed new light on the little recognized issue of how the planning, allocation, management and use of cemeteries as a form of land use affects urban resilience. 


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