Rafaela Ferraz is a freelance writer focused on strange, slightly macabre, and often overlooked chapters of Portuguese history. Her work has appeared in Atlas Obscura, Catapult, The Order of the Good Death, and TalkDeath, among others.
She graduated from the University of Porto with a bachelor’s degree in Criminology and, later, a master’s in Forensic Sciences. Her thesis adopted a multidisciplinary approach to the study of the Portuguese way of death, outlining its past, present, and future as new funeral technologies begin to creep into the public consciousness.
Outside of academia, Rafaela continues to work in the intersection of history and death. She’s written about a 680-year-old saint who refuses to decompose, explored the European penchant for grave recycling, and examined the ethical implications of preserving criminals for science.
As a writer and photographer, Rafaela has introduced the internet to Diogo Alves, the 19th century serial killer whose head lies preserved in a jar “for science”. Her original article, published on Atlas Obscura, became a viral sensation, with the story getting picked up by newspapers and websites worldwide. Alves’ head has since been immortalized in the bestselling Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! series, a compendium of oddities and curiosities from around the world.