A noted death scholar, Dr. Candi K. Cann, Associate Professor of Religion in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core in the Honors College at Baylor University, teaches in both the BIC and the Religion department. Her research focuses on death, dying, and grief. She is especially interested in the intersections of marginality, diversity, and death technologies.
Her books include "Virtual Afterlives: Grieving the Dead in the 21st Century," centered on grief and memorialization in the contemporary world; "Dying to Eat: Cross Cultural Perspectives on Food, Death and the Afterlife," an edited collection on the intersection of food in death and grief; and "The Routledge Handbook of Death and Afterlife," an edited collection of 35 chapters examining death and afterlife from around the world.
Dr. Cann has been a featured guest on NPR Science Friday, various BBC radio programs and CSPAN's Book TV and has written numerous articles and book chapters, including "African American Deathways" in Oxford Bibliographies in African American Studies. Her co-written piece on "Death, Grief, and Funerals in the COVID Age" (www.covidpaper.org), centered on optimal strategies for helping people develop new rituals to honor those who die during the COVID-19 era. The article’s resources and best practices for support during an unprecedented time were recognized and utilized by OptionB.org, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Presidential Taskforce on Grief and Loss, and the New York State Psychological Association, among many others.
For 2022-2023, Dr. Cann received the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award from the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The award allowed her to teach and conduct research in South Korea as the first Fulbright Scholar at Han Nam University, one of a few Christian universities in South Korea. Her research focused on the rise of the country’s hospital funeral homes, examining the ways in which they promote religious pluralism, a topic that aligned with her current research on diversity in death, and the intersection of death and technology around the world.
Areas of Expertise (9)
Death and Dying
Death and Diversity
Modern Mourning Practices
Death and Technology
Hispanic Bereavement Customs
Harvard University: Ph.D.
Harvard University: A.M.
University of Hawaii at Manoa: M.A.
St. Andrew's Presbyterian College: B.A.
Media Appearances (12)
AI chatbots offer comfort to the bereaved
Agence France-Presse (AFP) online
Dr. Candi Cann is quoted in this article about new technologies using artificial intelligence help people interact with a loved one after death. This article was picked up worldwide by more than 100 media outlets.
Corpse Cakes and Funeral Pie: A Short History of Eating Grief
Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Radio radio
AUDIO: Dr. Candi K. Cann is a guest on the program to talk about how food is used in grieving rituals around the world, from ancient Roman funeral tubes to shiva bagels.
Honoring The Wishes of Those Who Didn't Want a Funeral
Next Avenue online
Dr. Candi Cann was interviewed for this article about honoring the wishes of someone who doesn't want to have a funeral or memorial but how they should still take into account the feelings and grief of those left behind, especially if the instructions run counter to their own ideas and beliefs.
From virtual reality afterlife games to death doulas: Is our view of dying finally changing?
USA Today online
Dr. Candi Cann was interviewed for this article about how technology can impact the grieving process.
A creation-diamond startup backed by Mark Cuban is brining millennial flair to the death-care industry
Business Insider online
Dr. Candi Cann is quoted in this article about her research on “attachment objects,” such as cremation diamonds, and their impact on grief.
Exploring digital death
BBC "Digital Planet" online
AUDIO: Dr, Candi Cann takes part in this discussion about digital death and how the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to update our death rituals and move most of our grieving online.
What Should We Do With The Online Profiles Of The Deceased?
Science Friday radio
AUDIO: Dr. Candi Cann is a guest on NPR's Science Friday to discuss planning for the digital afterlife.
Tech Changes The Face Of Death
Science Friday radio
AUDIO: Dr. Candi Cann chats about how social media and other digital platforms are helping people memorialize the dead.
How the Oscar-winning ‘Coco’ and its fantastical afterlife forced us to talk about death.
The Washington Post online
Dr. Candi Cann, who studies death and the afterlife at Baylor, was interviewed for this article about the Disney Pixar film, "Coco," and how even those who participate in institutional religion remain mostly uncomfortable or unwilling to think deeply or talk with others about what they believe and imagine, if anything, about the afterlife.
When last tweets become last words
Dr. Candi Cann is an expert source in this article about how when death suddenly strikes, because of our social media networks, we have no ability to coordinate our final message to the world.
Dining with the Dead
BBC The Food Chain
AUDIO: Dr. Candi Cann is a guest on BBC's The Food Chain to discuss death's role in centuries of food culture, from corpse cakes to Mexico's Day of the Dead.
Candi Cann talked about her book, Virtual Aferlives: Grieving the Dead in the Twenty-First Century, in which she talks about how the rituals of death and grieving have changed throughout the past millennium...
Research Grants (1)
Saving and Selling Black Bodies: Examining the Role of Christian Identity in the African-American Funeral Home
African American churches and funeral homes have always held close ties with each other, serving as bastions of black identity in the United States, from the formation of the first AME burial societies in Philadelphia in 1778. In a culture where black bodies have been routinely bought and sold, how does the corporatization of the death industry in the United States change the identity politics of the African American funeral home, and in what ways does this commercialization impact black religiosity and identity?
Palatable and Portable: Do Memorial Diamonds Aid in the Grieving Process?Eastern and North European Journal of Death Studies
Candi K. Cann
Examining the importance of cremation as a disposal choice in Europe, the article traces a possible connection between the initial emergence of lab-grown memorial diamonds and the popularity of cremation, examines the grief journey process from turning cremains from humans and pets into lab-grown diamonds and concludes that the process of transforming cremains into wearable diamonds may correspond to the grief journey moving from acute grief to integrated grief, though timeline expectations sometimes interfered with grief outcomes.
Pocket Memorials: Digital Death and the SmartphoneOxford Academic
Candi K. Cann
This chapter examines digital media’s intersection with death, dying, and memorialization through the lens of smartphone technology. Drawing on earlier work on the role of social media, the Internet, and forms of memorializing the dead online, the chapter examines how digital spaces for the dead expand, contract, and shift through the technology of the smartphone.
Black Deaths Matter Earning the Right to Live: Death and the African-American Funeral HomeReligions
Candi K. Cann
Black Deaths Matter: Earning the Right to Live—Death and the African-American Funeral Home recounts the history of black funeral homes in the United States and their role in demanding justice for bodies of color and the black community. Through funeral pageantry and vigilant support for local communities, the African American funeral home has been central to ensuring that not only do Black Lives Matter, but black deaths count and are visible to the larger community.
African American DeathwaysOxford Bibliographies
Candi K. Cann
This bibliography on African American deathways examines the role of death, dying, and disposal from a variety of different perspectives. Studies focusing on the intersection between death and history survey a wide range of materials, ranging from general histories that contextualize the importance of death culture to more specific studies of prominent burial grounds and cemeteries. Scholars focusing on cemeteries and material culture tend to highlight the importance of burial customs in African American remembrance and mourning, while also examining some of the intellectual divides that archaeological excavations of these cemeteries have created.
Contemporary Death Practices in the Catholic Latina/o communityThanatos
Candi K. Cann
This article is an initial review of the everyday death and bereavement practices of the U.S. Latina/o community, and is meant to serve as an initial corrective to the traditional studies of American death that present death from a largely Anglo and Protestant perspective.