Dying with ‘Infinity Mushrooms’ – Mortuary Rituals, Mycoremediation and Multispecies Legacies
In a world conceptualised as Anthropocene, in which human activities are transforming every part of the biosphere, funerals have become political and ethical activities in new and unforeseen ways. The use of formaldehyde in embalming practices and the release of air pollutants during cremation are only two of many points of criticism which have led to the rise of alternative ‘greener’ burial methods. The ‘infinity burial project’ is one such alternative, but it exceeds discourses on sustainable funerals by highlighting the toxicity of human bodies and challenging cultural taboos surrounding corporeal decomposition. Infinity burial employs ‘mycoremediation’, the usage of fungi for decomposing and cleaning up contaminated bodies and landscapes. Departing from Donna Haraway’s call for embracing situated technical projects in order to make ‘oddkin’, this article explores how the infinity burial project engenders queer communities which dismiss taxonomical lines between species as well as ontological claims about life and death. Drawing on new materialisms’ work on the radical openness of bodies, I explore how the infinity burial project sheds light on the material reality of decaying and the implications of dying in a polluted world.
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