Preface [chapter]

2022 Grassroots Memorials  
When the media present "breaking news," the news is often about a tragedy or a disaster. Untimely and sudden deaths-whether the result of terrorist massacres, school shootings, political assassinations, or other forms of societal violence-and collective shrines in memory of emblematic personalities always capture people's attention, as such deaths confront them with the vulnerability, temporality, and unjustness of life. The mediation of deadly events intrudes on and frightens the living,
more » ... it necessary for us to give way to emotions and to manage our anxieties and grievances. Processes of memorialization after traumatic death, which are increasing taking place publicly, have in the last two decades become as mediatized as the disasters themselves. After traumatic events, the world wants to memorialize, commemorate, and subsequently heritagize-although, as explored in the introduction, it is more precise (and more problematic) to say that the "Western world" wants to do these things. The growing importance of public memorialization in Western societies-and especially in the grassroots form of direct action, with its political and performative qualities-stimulated us to bring this important new phenomenon into scholarly focus. As is often the case in the academic world, this volume originated at a workshop we organized at the European Association of Social Anthropologists conference in Bristol on September 20, 2006. The workshop was titled "The Public Memorialization of Death: Spontaneous Shrines as Political Tools." The topicality of the theme was evidenced by the fact that fourteen presenters explored and discussed the political uses of spontaneous or temporary memorials. Some of the participants are not represented in this book, as their contributions diverged too much from the well-defi ned focus on "grassroots memorials." Unfortunately, we also could not include the work by our Argentinian colleague Damián Cioce on the "Cromagnon Republic" nightclub disaster, as he himself suffered an untimely death. Later, in 2007, we contacted some other scholars who were researching the subject and invited them to collaborate. We then organized a second workshop-"Rituals of Mourning: Memorializing, Self, and Society"-at the American Folklore Society Conference in Louisville, KY, on October 24, 2008. These two initiatives led to six additional authors contributing to the book. All this, however, meant that the book needed more preparation time.
doi:10.1515/9780857451903-002 fatcat:5ukw4yhl5zgynfsh25ekli3hra