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I’m a ‘chick’ and I work with the dead: a concise way to describe my range of interests and professional skills. I’m Carla Valentine, qualified Anatomical Pathology Technologist (Mortuary Technician or ‘Mortician’) holding both the Certificate and Diploma in Anatomical Pathology Technology, and currently researching our relationships with human remains. To find out how to become an APT see the AAPT Website.

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Through the course of my eight year career I carried out autopsies on Coronial, hospital and forensic cases, both paediatric and adult. This work also included CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) and other high risk cases like SARS, Swine Flu and CJD. In my spare time I studied Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology which led me to excavate plague graves in Venice and WWI graves in Belgium, as well as medieval burials in Chester.

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I am now the Technical Curator of a Victorian Pathology Musum, restoring the 5000 anatomical specimens to their former glory and teasing stories from the dead in a different way. I organise events to showcase the collection, teach students at the Academy of Forensic Medical Sciences, and conserve anatomical specimens every day. I talk about the specimens on YouTube and to anyone who’ll listen, and I am in the enviable position of having one foot firmly planted in the future of Pathology, and one firmly in the past.

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I am interested in the cultural and scientific links between sex and death inspired, in part, by my earlier Psychology background and interest in the writings of Professor Lisa Downing and Dr Anil Aggrawal. My current MA in ‘Museum Cultures’ at Birkbeck will be complete with my dissertation “The Taboo View: Medical Museums, Anatomical Collections and the Sexualised Gaze.” You can see the more irreverent part of this research via my Twitter and Instagram @chickandthedead.

I also run a dating and networking site for death professionals called Dead Meet and my book ‘Past Mortems’ was published by Sphere (an imprint of Little Brown) in April 2017. It is currently #1 Bestseller in Forensic Medicine on Amazon.

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This blog contains some sex and death musings, and interesting observations on the culture of mortality, particularly as it may relate to death and femininity, sex and our interactions/intimacy with human remains.

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Mission Statement:

  • Professionally I’m passionate about open, objective discussion, not hindered by culturally specific ideas of dignity, around the display and use of medical collections and access to our dead.
  • Academically I explore the spectrum of interactions which humans share with their dead, from the extreme end of direct cremation (no relationship) to necrophilia (full intimacy.)
  • I’m interested in research which identifies the positive affects of dealing with our own dead and death (worldwide), and also how the sanitised death we are now experiencing has a detrimental effect on society.
  • In short, if we improve our relationships with human remains, could that improve our society?


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29 thoughts on “About

  1. “…the cultural and scientific links between sex and death.” Or, as the French would say “la petit mort”. This is going to be interesting and I am staying tuned….

  2. What an interesting job! I currently live in the US but I gained my APT certificate in the UK several years ago. Since then, I have worked at the M.E. Office doing forensic autopsies and a hospital pathology department which was primarily medical autopsies. We are returning to the UK soon, and I would love any guidance you could give. My primary interest is in the forensic autopsy field. I am unsure about the Home Office procedures and if they have their own APT’s. Any info would be great. Thanks!

  3. I found you from a link on the British Library Gothic page, and am really pleased to discover your site. I am fascinated by the various aspects of death, and although I don’t work in the field, (apart from laying out bodies as a nurse) I really enjoy the subject. Isabella and Salomé were fascinating.

  4. I’m attending the heart potting class at St Barts this Saturday (13th June), i’m a Fine Art student interested in science and anatomy and most recently the heart, i look forward to gaining some knowledge about preservation methods and gaining an insight into your practise (:

  5. Oh I am going to reading with huge interest!!

    Here’s my particular ‘quirk’ (my chosen word for something that is making people step back aghast with horror):

    I really want to decide the day I die, I want to have complete control over my manner of leaving. I want to be buried in my friends woodland, we’ve scouted out a good spot that will remain undisturbed. The plan is to have my deep pit dug and lined with cushions etc, while I have a nice party with my mates. Then I can nip down the ladder and pop my clogs when I’m ready. Obviously I’d want a Doctor around to confirm I’ve definitely gone! Then my mates can fill the hole, plant whatever we decide on, and get on with their lives.

    he only fly in the ointment is that I have to be dead before I get there, and the death certificate examined and approved by the local bureaucracy. This makes me more cross than I probably should be! I could get run over by a bus tomorrow.

    Looking forward to reading your posts.

    Caroleann

  6. You are truly amazing and inspiring. I’m currently considering starting my educational path to become a pathologists’ assistant, would you have any recommendations on schooling or advice for someone just starting to explore the field? Any insight would be greatly appreciated. I hope you’re recovery is coming along smoothly.

    1. Hi, Thank you! The only info I have is that at the top of this page – first paragraph – as that’s how it’s done in the UK. If You’re US based I’m afraid I don’t know how you’d go about that, sorry! x

  7. Superb blog complementing your many other works (lectures, discussions, books). A great inspiration and resource for artists like me who wish they’d taken a more hands on career route.

  8. Fascinating site. I wonder if another connection between sex & death (maybe consistent with the possible idea that sex, to the extent it’s procreative, is an ‘antidote’ to mortality & death) is that eroticizing death is a way of lessening our fear about our own inevitable demise? That is, we try to make something scary (death, the workplace, etc.), sexy.

    In addition, in the other direction, nothing spices things up — including sex — like a pinch of menace, even the spectre of mortality, possibly explaining cinema’s fascination with femmes fatales & handsome villains….

    The association between sex & death — despite that it’s rarely talked about (except by visionaries like you:) — seems to underlie so much, from S&M, to aesthetics & art history, viz., Edmund Burke’s definition of the “sublime” as the combination of great beauty & terror…. This is really wonderful! Keep up the great work!

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