A growing number of companies are offering digital products and services for use in funerals. Drawing on interdisciplinary research in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, we explore how funeral directors operate as intermediaries for these digital products and services. We critically examine the popular framing of the funeral industry as a “conservative” business and examine how funeral directors actively mediate between their clients and the companies offering innovative products and services. This study provides an account of current developments in the funeral economy as well as a broader narrative about how funeral industry professionals have engaged with technology.
Domestic Buddhist altars have long provided symbolically and materially rich media for venerating the dead in Japan. However, as Japanese household structures and funerary rites are unsettled in the contemporary era, Buddhist altars (butsudan) are rapidly being reinvented and digitalized. In this article, we describe the new technologies harnessed in butsudan production, the sensory experiences they offer, and their abilities to both reform and reinforce traditional networks of ancestral obligation. Despite promising death rituals that are more personal, secular, and affordable, the development of digitally enhanced material memorialization is still very much a work in progress in Japan.