Revising Reykjavík: changing narratives of skeletons, structures, and imagined futures.

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    • Abstract:
      In Reykjavík, Iceland, the city's oldest cemetery was exhumed in favor of yet another tourist hotel despite local cultural leaders' objections and existing concerns that new hotels already exceeded projected demand. For Icelanders, cemeteries are important material and symbolic markers of the nation's history and heritage and cherished contributors to Icelandic cultural identity. The anomalous destruction of this particular, historically significant cemetery suggested the question, "What is going on here?" and launched a comparison of Icelandic cemeteries as material, symbolic narratives to the narratives underlying the imagined future of the external consultancy's recommendations. The narratives expressed in the cemeteries differed substantially from those identified in the consultancy proposals and suggested that one culture's values can replace unintentionally another's rather quickly in lasting ways. This repeats globally and diminishes diversity and human–human and human–nature relationships. This investigation explored the substantial differences between the two narratives, vulnerabilities to such external influences, and considerations for efforts toward change that protects cultural and geographic diversity. These changes, the associated processes and histories were identified and discussed in global context with attention to identity formation, resilient and sustainable futures, spreading global homogeneity, and efforts toward more sustainable futures. While destruction of cultural markers is sometimes necessary, this exploration highlights the need to identify and consider these decisions carefully and to attend to a diversity of voices. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]