A Perfect failure: the market of ritual services and infrastructure quest

Center for Science and Technology Studies (STS Center)

On November, 20, 5.00 - 7.00 p.m., as a part of STS Center Regular seminar, will be a presentation by Sergei Mokhov, chief editor of the scientific journal "Russian Archaeology of death," the coordinator of the laboratory of social studies of death and dying, PhD student at HSE (Moscow). Topic: "A Perfect failure: the market of ritual services and infrastructure quest."


The market for funeral services in modern Russia inherits the infrastructure of the Soviet model. Municipal authorities control of cemeteries, mortuaries and crematoria while private business deprived of legal opportunities to develop their own infrastructure. The main feature of the functioning of (post)Soviet infrastructure becomes her constant breakage and failure - lack of roads, broken refrigerators in the morgue, illegal and spontaneous objects, mismanagement, etc.

How the dysfunctionality of the infrastructure affects the practice of contemporary Russian funeral?

How breakage and repair of infrastructure collecting social order?

The seminar will present the results of ethnographic studies of several funeral agencies, performed in the years 2015-2017. On the one hand, it is proposed to discuss how this dysfunctionality deliberately supported by the actors of the market of funeral services and becomes the object of bargaining between municipal authorities, the public sector workers, private business and consumers. On the other hand, how problems in the functioning of the funeral of the infrastructure are embedded in ritual practices and transforms the burial ritual in the game to overcome breakdowns.