The International Center for Death Studies (ICDS or CIEM) is the new name adopted by the Society of Thanatology. Its English translation is ICDS, International Center for Death Studies. The leaders of our association had, since 2010, understood that the term thanatology, although drawing its roots in antiquity, no longer evoked our object, death and dying, to the French in general but also to the public at large and the researchers, the journalists, the students, the funeral world and association volunteers. For non-scientists, thanatology seemed mysterious, all the more. So since this word accompanied the term “society” and evoked, more than the scholarly society, the secret society, even the sect. We then realized that at the international level, thanatology referred to the entrepreneurial world of funerals and sometimes even thanatopraxy. We then decided to change our name so that our scientific objectives would be clear.

The CIEM or ICDS is therefore a group of scientists and practitioners open to the general public who wish to study and make known the facts, speeches and representations on death and dying in human civilizations.


The Society of Thanatology was founded more than fifty years ago. It was founded in 1966 by the General Physician Inspector Raymond Debenedetti and the lawyer, Doctor of Law, André F. Chatillon. It has always counted among its members funeral companies, but also physicians, sociologists, anthropologists, philosophers. Psychologists were included when the question of grief was linked to that of death, when it was silenced in France until the seventies. Several personalities played a fundamental role in the development of thanatology. Louis-Vincent Thomas (anthropologist, sociologist, Africanist and creator of the term thanatology) dreamed of bringing together, under the aegis of thanatology, all the theological, philosophical and scientific knowledge on death. A complete issue of Études sur la Mort (N°101-102, 1995) was dedicated to him. Michel Hanus, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst took over from him and remained president of the thanatology society until his death in 2010. Marie-Frédérique Bacqué was then elected and proceeded with the modernization of the journal “Études sur la Mort” and the various research activities in thanatology, linking anthropology with medicine and other human sciences.

CIEM or ICDS began its existence in 2020 with members of the thanatology society, Marie-Frédérique Bacqué, its president since 2010, Cynthia Mauro, its vice-president at the same time, Claude Bersay, who wishes to become an honorary member after serving as secretary general, Françoise Biotti-Mache who has been an administrator for a long time and reserves herself to writing articles in which she preserves the French encyclopedic tradition, Emmanuel Hirsch who has been supporting us since the nineties and leaves his Espace Éthique de l’Assistance Publique open to our events.


CIEM or ICDS studies Death and Dying.

Death is a natural biological fact that humans have constantly tried to understand and today to push back. Dying is a process that is still difficult to address, although laws surround it from all sides. The latest laws on the end of life in France frame agony without, however, creating consensus around them. We have made it the theme of N°150 of Études sur la Mort (2017): “Euthanasia and assisted suicide”.

In addition to the objective of making its reflections on death known, CIEM or ICDS seeks to reduce the taboo that surrounds all questions about our mortality by developing the simplest means of communicating to the general public: conferences, broadcasts on all media, videos, films, training.


Death Studies

CIEM or ICDS takes over the biannual journal published by the Society of Thanatology: Études sur la Mort. It has been published since 1967. Formerly called Bulletin de la Société de Thanatologie, this journal is edited by l’Esprit du Temps/Éditions des Soixante and is archived today on the SJR Scimago Journal Rank databases on Scopus and on Cairn. Many authors attempt to publish regularly in Études sur la Mort. Some of the papers are in English but the majority is in French. The journal is directed by an Editorial Board* and has an International Scientific Committee **. It is sold in all general and specialized bookstores (see all summaries). You’ll find on this site the way to get your journal subscription (see Études sur la Mort).

The interest of the journal is its long lifespan. The information is related to its context and can even be studied long after its publication. Sociologists will find material for their studies. The secular themes (religions, human violence, funeral rituals) are approached, in the journal Études sur la Mort, in a contemporary and original way.

We have dedicated several issues to funeral professions but also to general themes, ancestral as well as actual.

  • No. 137 “The dead in the city”,
  • No. 138 “The End of Life”,
  • No.140 ” Non-religious funeral rites “,
  • No.142 ” From the life of the dead “,
  • No. 143 “Thanatopraxy”,
  • No. 146 “Religions and Death,

And more recently the

  • No.149 ” Giving your body to Science “,

And we are ready to publish more. We always alternate with larger issues such as

  • No.130 ” Dying to kill: the Kamikazes “,
  • No. 144 “Death, Ethics and War”,
  • No. 145 “Life and death of domestic animals”,
  • N°147 ” Sex and Death “.

And more recently

  • N°153 ” Near Death Experiences ” (two papers in english),
  • N°154 ” Traumatic Death, Traumatic Grief “,
  • N°155 ” Psychological Death “,
  • N°156 ” Forensic Sciences or the World of Traces”.

Each issue of Etudes sur la Mort is composed of French and international scientific articles written by specialists in the field, but always in a style accessible to the general public. The scientific committee of the journal is international and interdisciplinary. It includes researchers from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Quebec, Spain and Portugal.

The subscription to the journal Études sur la Mort is 47€ directly on the site of L’Éditions des soixante, but it is 35€ if you present your accreditation as a member of CIEM or ICDS when you subscribe on the site

Membership in CIEM or ICDS

Thus, if you join us, you will pay 30€, which will allow you to subscribe in a second phase to Études sur la Mort for 35€.

Membership of CIEM will allow you to benefit from our information, in our CIEM newsletter, which will be sent by e-mail but will also be sent to social networks. You will have special rates for our symposia and Research Meetings and will be able to take part in various intellectual or media actions on social networks.

Research on Death and Dying

We have been researching in the theme of Death, Dying and Grief for years. Information booklets, symposiums and training courses are available on request on these difficult but indispensable reflections for funeral companies, caregivers, and institutions confronted with deadly violence such as the Police, the Gendarmerie and the Army.


The colloquia of the Society of Thanatology and then of the CIEM were annual and brought together many listeners, more than 1000 for “The Death of the Child”. Thus, for the colloquium on “Death in the cinema”, 200 people gathered in 2010 at the Senate, which lent us a room for the occasion. In 2019, the symposium on “Traumatic Death, Traumatic Grief”, organized by the SuLiSoM-UR3071 laboratory in Strasbourg brought together 300 people. Other colloquia have been co-organized such as “Death and Medicine” in 2011 and “Dehumanizing, de-animalizing, from slaughterhouses to in vitro meat ” in 2012, co-organized with the University of Strasbourg and INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique). However, these colloquia have provided us with a serious national and international address book on the actors of Death and Mourning. We would like to continue these meetings every year and take advantage of them to meet our members and our associate of the Editorial and Scientific Committees once a year during a General Assembly.

The booklets

We would like to produce more small documents and possibly put them online or distribute them in stores. Two booklets have been designed by our team to allow children to talk with their parents about cremation and burial (see the pages Booklets “How to talk about cremation with my child” and “How to talk about burial with my child”).

We could take up themes already covered such as “The loss of my spouse”, “Losing a child” or “Grieving after suicide”, “What is death? “I was told about an autopsy…”

Training courses

The Society of Thanatology has always offered training on Death and Mourning. CIEM can also offer or participate in training courses for caregivers, doctors, magistrates, etc.

The National Funeral Ethics Committee

We no longer participate in this entity, although Michel Hanus was its co-founder. We keep ourselves informed of its work, however, by keeping in touch with its president, Damien Leguay.

Conferences for the general public

A few years ago, we participated in a large series of conferences throughout France with the PFGs. The aim was to bring together an audience interested in our themes, summarized by the title: “New behaviors in the face of Death”. The panel consisted of a member of the Society of Thanatology, a person in charge of a palliative care unit, a representative of the funeral company, a religious person and a local representative of an association on Death and Mourning. It has always been a success. The evening ended with a cocktail and a distribution of brochures. These evenings could be repeated in France and abroad.

All in all

It is a global and transdisciplinary vision that we are pursuing with CIEM or ICDS, in line with the Society of Thanatology. Representing research on Death and Dying, transmitting knowledge on the subject, facilitating communication and creativity around this theme is close to our heart.

Transmitting, accompanying, and giving food for thought: these are our values and our desires. We remain at your disposal for any discussion and project implementation.

Marie-Frédérique BACQUÉ, Cynthia Mauro and the members of CIEM