W055
The public memorialisation of death: spontaneous shrines as political tools

Convenors:
Cristina Sanchez-Carretero (CSIC)
Peter Jan Margry (University of Amsterdam/Meertens Institute, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences)
Location:
Wills LT G25
Start time:
20 September, 2006 at 11:30
Session slots:
4

Short abstract:

This workshop explores the political uses of spontaneous shrines built to memorialise sudden death, including responses to terrorist massacres and other forms of violence, and collective shrines in memory of emblematic personalities.

Long abstract:

This workshop explores the political uses of spontaneous shrines built to memorialise sudden death, including responses to terrorist massacres and other forms of violence, and collective shrines in memory of emblematic personalities. The panel concentrates on public shrines and not on roadside and other private memorials. In the case of the March 11th 2004 train bombings in Madrid, the city was transformed. The following day the streets were filled with a mass of mourning demonstrators. Spontaneous shrines - a term coined by Jack Santino - began to appear on the day of the attacks, in the train stations, blanketing pavements, platforms, public squares and underground stations. The spaces of civil sacrality created after the attacks in Madrid followed the pattern of collective mourning after massacres, such as September 11th, and after the deaths of famous personalities - Princess Diana in England or Pim Fortuyn in The Netherlands. What are the links among these forms of public memorialisation of death? How are these public spaces used to memorialise death? How is the mass media influencing these global ways of expressing grief? Are civil spaces replacing sacred grounds for these purposes? We invite papers to explore theoretical models applicable to the study of the links between protest, memorialisation and spontaneous shrines; as well as ethnographic, and comparative, case studies on the public memorialisation of death. In addition, analytical papers exploring how these phenomena should be depicted are welcomed, problematising the spontaneity element, its ephemeral status - often changed into permanent monuments - and the strong religious connotation of the term 'shrine'.