Meet Baylor’s nationally recognized expert on death, funerals and bereavement practices
What happens when we die? Not to our souls, but to what and who we leave behind — everything from family and friends to possessions and even our social media accounts? How will our loved ones mourn us? And how might they do it differently in another culture?
These are the sorts of questions studied by people like Dr. Candi Cann, an associate professor in both the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core and the Department of Religion. After earning her doctorate in comparative religion from Harvard in 2009, Cann came to Baylor two years later; here, she teaches courses such as world cultures and world religions and serves as faculty-in-residence for North Village’s Texana House. Highly sought after for her range of expertise on international cultures surrounding death, funerals and bereavement, Cann regularly writes for the Huffington Post and has been a featured guest everywhere from NPR to CSPAN.
Cann began by researching zombies, vampires, martyrs and saints, whose very being and memory is dependent upon the acknowledgement of the living. With her background in comparative religion, she expanded into the funeral industries in Asia, the United Kingdom and the United States; the identity of African-American funeral homes; and the bereavement practices of contemporary Hispanic-Americans. She’s since delved into how social media sites can serve as “virtual” memorials, such as Twitter immortalizing the last words of the deceased or Facebook serving as a place to both mourn and talk to those we’ve lost.
Up next for Cann? Two new books. The first, Dying to Eat, looks at the role food plays in death, bereavement, and the afterlife across history, religions and cultures. The second, WhiteOut, examines diversity in death, from the whitening of the funeral industry to the influence of white Protestant worldviews on death and dying.
Sic ’em, Dr. Cann!
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