Georgina Robinson 2023

Durham University

Alkaline hydrolysis: a whistle-stop tour [v]

This paper seeks to provide a foundational understanding of how the funerary innovation of the alkaline hydrolysis (AH) of human corpses is likely to be adopted in the United Kingdom by covering four key areas of concern:

  • What does history tell us?
  • What do current funerary trends tell us?
  • What influence might the climate crisis have on changing normative funerary practices?
  • What does AH’s popularity in the USA tell us about its potential in the UK?

The paper draws from Georgina Robinson’s recently completed doctoral thesis and fieldwork conducted in the USA – ‘Alkaline hydrolysis: the future of British death-styles’ (2023) – which argues that AH is likely to be adopted in the UK as an environmental and economical form of body disposal, primarily by those who currently choose cremation for non-religious reasons. This ought to be a particularly timely and pertinent paper for the Colloquium, given that the UK’s first centre for AH is on the cusp of becoming operational in the north of England.


The Cemetery Research Group runs two events a year: in May and in November. Follow the links and send in an abstract