Brenda Mathijssen 2023

University of Groningen

True nature burial: Unearthing the politics of defining an emerging death practice in The Netherlands [v]

This paper discusses the emergence of nature burial in the Netherlands by drawing attention to the politics of defining this practice. On the basis of qualitative interviews and the systematic mapping of nature burial sites, it discusses how is nature burial defined, and by whom? What practices are included and excluded by these definitions, and why? By tending to such questions, the paper draws attention to the often-overlooked politics of nature burial. As a ‘green’ or ‘natural’ death practice, nature burial tends to be presented as open, neutral, and inclusive, as being without culture. It often is presented to be available to everyone, regardless people’s religious faith or no faith. Yet, as this paper illustrates, there is little natural about nature burial. Nature burial is a cultural practice with shifting meanings across socio-cultural and national contexts which include and exclude humans and non-humans.


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