This presentation is based on interviews and archives analysis conducted in 2019 in Sète, France, and aims at underlining the role of the burial reselling process in France in the evolution of a famous cemetery and the sociology of the person buried there. The Cimetière Marin (maritime cemetery) is a well-known cemetery in France, thanks to Paul Valéry’s poem, “Le Cimetière Marin”, and has a unique situation, as it faces the Mediterranean Sea from a hillside. Until recent years, this old and full cemetery had fallen into a state of decay, until the municipality decided to engage in reparations. This rehabilitation process was funded through the reselling of the oldest burial plots ; this process isn’t always used by municipalities, as it involves costly operations ; however, the singularity of the cemetery and of its old burial plots drove the prices up, making this a very profitable project for the municipality. The consequence of this, however, was a clear sociological separation between Sète’s two cemeteries, as the cost of the burial plots (and the tombs, which had to be bought too by the buyers), made an acquisition in the Cimetière Marin impossible for the poorer residents, which were then invited to seek a plot in the other cemetery, le Py.
Louis Dall'aglio 2021
ENS de Lyon, France
Cemetery gentrification in the south of France : the Cimetière Marin renovation in Sète
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