A new book, co-authored by Kami Fletcher, Ph.D., associate professor of history at Albright College, explores why Americans separate the dead along race, religion and class lines. Released by the University Press of Mississippi, “Till Death Do Us Part: American Ethnic Cemeteries as Borders Uncrossed” includes a collection of scholarly essays, co-edited with Fletcher by Allan Amanik, assistant professor of Judaic studies at Brooklyn College.
“The essays illustrate how burial patterns reflect both 19th and 20th century ideas of American-ness … who is and who is not [considered] an American,” says Fletcher.
The volume presents fallacies around the idea of death being ‘the great equalizer.’
“There are racial, gendered, class, religious, regional borders around and within cemeteries that prove our argument about inequality in death,” explains Fletcher. “Sometimes this is self-imposed for one’s own safety and for burial rights — as shown my chapter on African American autonomous cemeteries, and sometimes for assimilation — as James Pula argues in his chapter on Polish American cemeteries. These borders show how social and cultural understanding of the living follow us to the grave, further highlighting the inequality of the living by examining burial patterns.”
Joining the faculty at Albright College in 2019 after serving as an associate professor of history, political science and philosophy Delaware State University, Fletcher is an avid researcher of African-American experiences of death and dying. She is the author of “The Niagara Movement: The Black Protest Reborn” (2008) and teaches courses on African American history, as well as social and general U.S. history.