Staff Profile:Dr Brenda Mathijssen

Areas of Interest:
  • Death
  • Bereavement
  • Lived Religion
  • Ritual
  • Migration
  • Material Culture
Research groups / Centres:

Human Geography Research Cluster

Key Facts:

Brenda is a postdoctoral researcher working on the AHRC/ESRC Deathscapes and Diversity project investigating practices and provisions around death for migrant and minority groups in England and Wales. The project aims to increase understanding of culturally and religiously diverse practices around death. Furthermore, it explores how the needs of migrants and minorities are interpreted within existing cemetery, crematoria and remembrance site provision, and how any shortfalls might be addressed through community participation and local authority planning.

Brenda has a background in Religious Studies. Her work explores how people make their lives and deaths meaningful, collectively and individually, and by religious and non-religious means. Particularly, she uses the lenses of lived religion and ritual to study meaning-making in contexts of social, cultural and demographic change. She has an inter-disciplinary approach and uses a variety of methods, such as interviews, participant observation, focus groups and quantitative survey. Most of her work engages with death, dying and bereavement. Additionally, her research engages with the politics of diversity and belonging. How do people live together in cultural-religious difference?

Brenda conducted her doctoral research on death and meaning-making at Radboud University in the Netherlands (2017). She has been a visiting researcher at the Centre for Life and Death Studies at Durham University (2015), and is an associated researcher at the Centre for Thanatology, Radboud University. In addition to writing and teaching, she enjoys sharing her work with public audiences and with professionals in health, spiritual, and funeral care through lectures and collaborative projects.



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