Dr. Candi K. Cann teaches World Cultures, Social World, World Religions, Death and Dying in World Religions, and Buddhism at Baylor University, and teaches in both the BIC and the Religion department. She received both her A.M. and Ph.D. in Comparative Religion from Harvard University, an M.A. in Asian Religions from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and a B.A. in Asian Studies and English from St. Andrews in North Carolina.
Dr. Cann's research focuses on death and dying, and the impact of remembering (and forgetting) in shaping how lives are recalled, remembered and celebrated. She examined this theme through martyrdom in her early scholarship, but more recently has shifted to "virtual" memorials, specifically examining internet memorials and social network sites as a way for remembering the dead. Dr. Cann's last book, Virtual Afterlives: Grieving the Dead in the Twenty-first Century with the University Press of Kentucky (2014), centered on grief and memorialization in the contemporary world. She has also written various chapters and articles on digital death and grief. Her next book, Dying to Eat: Cross Cultural Perspectives on Food, Death and the Afterlife (also with University Press of Kentucky, 2017), is an edited collection on the intersection of food in death and grief. For her newest book, WhiteOut (Indiana University Press, anticipated 2018), Dr. Cann is researching diversity in death, examining the whitening of the funeral industry and death studies, and arguing that the field of death and grief has been heavily influenced by white and Protestant worldviews.
Dr. Cann's own fieldwork has largely occurred in China and Argentina. She has lived and worked in various regions of China, first working for the Amity Foundation in China, and later helping write the first Let's Go travel guide for China. Additionally, she has lived and worked in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in addition to studying at the Departamento Ecuménico de Investigaciones (DEI) in San Jose, Costa Rica, and heading the Latino Cultural Center (as GA) for two years at MIT. Currently, she heads the Baylor in Hawaii Program, slated to start the summer of 2018.
Dr. Cann regularly blogs for the Huffington Post on issues related to death and dying, and actively tweets on the subject as well. When she is not thinking about and writing on death, Dr. Cann attempts to live well, pursuing her love of travel, reading, surfing, and writing poetry.
Industry Expertise (1)
Areas of Expertise (7)
Death and Dying
Modern Mourning Practices
Hispanic Bereavement Customs
Princeton University Visiting Scholar (professional)
Princeton Theological Seminary, Visiting Scholar (professional)
NEH/ALA Muslim Journeys Bookshelf Grant (Co-PI) (professional)
Harvard University: Ph.D., Comparative Religion 2009
Harvard University: A.M., Comparative Religion 2009
University of Hawaii at Manoa: M.A., Asian Religions 1996
St. Andrew's Presbyterian College: B.A., English 1992
Media Appearances (4)
When last tweets become last words
“Before, we could hide death. We put death in the hospital. We professionalized death by making funeral home workers dress the corpse and make it look pretty,” says Candi Cann, a Baylor University professor and author of the book Virtual Afterlives: Grieving the Dead in the Twenty-first Century. “We’ve hidden it in a way and social media has really brought it back in our lives.”
Social media is transforming the way we view death and grieving
Public Radio International online
“People have talked to the deceased for as long as we can remember, it’s just that we never before listened in. Social network memorials have allowed us to do this,” says Candi Cann, a religion professor at Baylor University and the author of "Virtual Afterlives: Grieving the Dead in the Twenty-First Century." "It’s not the conversation that’s different, it’s the fact that it is now public.”
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...
Modern Mourning: New Ways We Honor Our Dead
We humans have never been particularly comfortable with death. That's entirely understandable, of course. Death is permanent and largely unpleasant and we don't know what -- if anything -- is on the other side. For millennia, various cultural and religious rituals have helped us process our feelings about death, providing comfort when a loved one dies.
But those rituals are fast disappearing in our increasingly secularized society -- and we actually really need them. That's the contention of author and professor Candi K. Cann in her forthcoming book, "Virtual Afterlives: Grieving the Dead in the 21st Century." In her research, Cann identifies several emerging trends in modern culture that seem to suggest we're searching for new ways to live with death.
Research Grants (2)
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. These close ties between church and funeral home continue today in the contemporary church. In 1995, the National Baptist Convention (NBC) accepted a $100,000 donation from Canadian company, the Loewen Group, the second largest funeral home chain in North America, to designate them as “the funeral home of choice” for National Baptist churches and its members. The National Funeral Directors and Mortician’s Association (NFDMA), a group representing the black funeral home business, viewed this as a betrayal of both black identity and African American religiosity, stating that the NBC essentially sold black churches, and betrayed their culture, in exchange for a hefty donation. In a culture where black bodies have been routinely bought and sold, deathcare has been seen as a realm where the body can be reclaimed along with the spirit. 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?
Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton
While at Princeton, she will be developing her next monograph on cross-cultural aspects on grief and mourning and writing an article on the commodification of body parts as found in saint relics and lynching souvenirs...
Mothers and Spirits examines the intersection of women, alcohol, and death through a comparative analysis. Offering a brief history of the study of drinking, followed by a short analysis of drinking in European and Chinese cultures, Cann examines two religious texts central to the roles of women and alcohol in Chinese religious thought and Christianity. Finally, Cann utilizes the historical and textual background to contextualize her ethnographic study of women, alcohol, and death in Mexican Catholicism, Chinese religions, and American Southern Baptist Christianity...
This article is an initial review of the everyday death and bereavement practices of the United States 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...
This chapter examines QR codes and the impact of smartphone technology on tombstones and column bariums. It briefly surveys Human-Computer Interaction related to smartchip technology in the funeral industry in Japan, Korea, China, the United Kingdom and the United States. Then it examines how tombstone technology impacts the way people think about death and remember the dead, particularly in terms of religious expression...