Jaq Anderson, Australia (Class of 2021)

Jacqueline Anderson, or Jaq, is Australian and did her Dual Degree exchange between 2018 and 2019. On June 26th, 2021, she will be presenting part of her thesis degree findings "Belief, Burial, Tombs & Tourists: The past and future of Greyfriars Kirkyard Conference". Today Jaq tells us why she is passionate about this topic:

"It all started when I was looking for a site for my masters thesis topic. I wanted a site that was
associated with disease, cultural changes and pop-culture. After I established these basic
requirements I began looking for sites that fit into this category. I had already fallen in love with the city of Edinburgh, and Scotland as a whole, so was thrilled when I found out that Greyfriars Kirkyard it perfectly into my basic requirements.

For those that are unaware, Greyfriars Kirkyard has associations with; Yersinia pestis (the plague), cultural changes associated with the Reformation, has connections to Greyfriars Bobby and Harry Potter. Being a kirkyard, and as a site of religious persecution, it also contains connections with Dark Tourism.

In order to assess all of the above aspects and answer the aims of my thesis, I identified social media as the best tool to gain an understanding of how visitors were interacting with the site. I wanted to see what values they were associating the site with, and if they were aware of elements such as the plague burials within the kirkyard. Once I had an understanding of the values visitors were aware of and those being overlooked, I proposed new interpretations for the site and how Greyfriars could be used to link up to other historic sites around the city.

My presentation at the Greyfriars Kirkyard Conference on the 26th of June, will be focused on
discussing some of the results from the social media analysis. Unfortunately, due to the amount of data I collected, it won’t be an in depth presentation, but I hope it will convey the growing need to utilise social media for heritage assessments.

Finally, one of my main passions is sites associated with historical diseases and diseases in general. So I found it slightly ironic that my thesis included information on quarantine measures and misinformation about diseases, and was submitted about a month before COVID-19 sent everyone into lockdown."

The conference will be held via Zoom and is free to attend. Go to the link and register!