Spontaneous Shrines and the Public Memorialization of Death / Edition 1

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Spontaneous shrines have emerged, both in the United States and internationally, as a way to mourn those who have died a sudden or shocking death, and to acknowledge the circumstances of the deaths. The contributors to Spontaneous Shrines and the Public Memorialization of Death address events such as the Texas A&M bonfire collapse, the Pentagon and New York City after 9-11, roadside crosses, a memorial wall in Philadelphia, and the use of Day of the Dead altars to bring attention to deceased undocumented immigrants. The first comprehensive work to examine and theorize the phenomenon as a whole, this book explores the origins, types, uses, and meanings of these shrines.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Once again, editor Jack Santino shows his gift for seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary. Spontaneous Shrines and the Public Memorialization of Death
reveals an emerging, globalizing language of loss and memory that can deal with the unassimilable fact of unjust, untimely death. The new traditions documented here are moving, powerful and potentially subversive."--Susan Davis, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
"It is a sad fact of our times that we should have so many reasons to mourn collectively. Wherever that may be (Madrid, Buenos Aires, Oklahoma, Derry, New York, Pouch Cove), for whatever reason (a car crash, assassination, terrorist attack, natural disaster, genocide), grief materializes itself in public in the most extraordinary ways. Just how that happens--and what it tells about who we are--is the subject of this life-affirming book, which examines spontaneous and self-organizing forms of mourning. These grassroots expressions offer an important alternative--and sometimes even resistance--to the formalities of church, funeral home, and civic commemoration. Ephemeral, tactical, and interstitial in the ways they locate themselves in public space, the spontaneous shrines examined in this book are worthy of the careful documentation and analysis provided by this important book."--Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, author of Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage

"This volume fills the need for sustained attention to the ethnographic and aesthetic details of spontaneous shrines, and situates these observations within a broader theoretical framework for understanding public memorialization of death. Readers will be moved by integrity of those who mourn and provoked by the implications of public acts of mourning we often overlook."--Peter Tokofsky, Education Specialist at the J. Paul Getty Museum and Adjunct Associate Professor of World Arts and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Praise for Jack Santino's Signs of War and Peace:

"Santino shows great evenhandedness in treating the sides in the conflict, and his study is informative, thoughtful, and thought-provoking."--Choice

This extraordinary ethnographic work sheds a fresh light on the capacity of popular tradition to create public space, and collectively fashioned art-driven by passion and intellect-to articulate what is unsayable in politics. Santino's superbly written work illuminates the range of ways in which popular artistic traditions in Northern Ireland make visible what is too often hidden from the view of politics: the personal impacts of political decisions.--Mary Hufford, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Santino provides a rarely available perspective on violence. He presents the perspectives of the people of Northern Ireland through their creative uses of traditional forms of expression. Responding to the threat and reality of death, present in their neighborhoods at all times, they respond with efforts to maintain their humanity and identities with shrines that memorialize specific individuals yet also serve to draw attention to the consequences of the conflict. Understanding the tragic consequences of violence for other human beings offers an alternative to the frustrations of diplomacy. Perhaps such an approach could prove to be a more fruitful route to peaceful solutions.--Beverly Stoeltje, Indiana University

Signs of War and Peace offers a fascinating excursion into the politics of popular art in an embattled land, where two incompatible versions of history coexist. In refreshingly readable prose, Jack Santino shows how public displays like drum-beating, litter-can rattling, handshaking, flag flying, and curbstone and mural painting operate symbolically to perpetuate a state of war. By so doing, he teaches us not only about the anguished inhabitants of Northern Ireland but also about ourselves.--Stanley Brandes, University of California at Berkeley

Signs of War and Peace is an impressive look at the range of display events associated with the war in Northern Ireland. As far as I know, there has been no other work on this particular side to the conflicts in Northern Ireland. Santino is an established scholar who has devoted a great deal of his time in the last several years to fieldwork in Ireland, and the manuscript that he has produced as a result is filled with important ethnographic data and revealing interviews with many people in Northern Ireland who have participated in the display events he seeks to analyze. I truly enjoyed reading this manuscript.--Meg Brady, University of Utah

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403968883
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 4/2/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Jack Santino is Professor of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University.

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Table of Contents

Spontaneous Shrines, Performative Commemoratives, and the Public
Memorialization of Death--Jack Santino
• Communicative Commemoration and Graveside Shrines: Jim Morrison, Princess Diana, My "Bro" Max, and Boogs the Cat--Jeannie B. Thomas
• Mourning in Protest--Harriet F. Senie
• The Pentagon and 9-11--Margaret Yocom
• The Shrines of 9-11--Julia Hirsch
• "Oh did you see the ashes come thickly falling down?" Poems Posted in the Wake of September 11--Steve Zeitlin
• Making Place Out of Space: Memorializing and Mourning Unexpected Roadside Deaths--Sandra D. Villareal
• Louisiana Roadside Memorials: Negotiating an Emerging Tradition--Maida Owens
• "Nothing Bad Ever Happens:" Roadside Crosses in "America's Hometown"--Holly Everett
• "Like a Trace:" The Spontaneous Shrine as a Cultural Expression of Grief in Norway--Hege Westgaard
• A Memorial Wall in Philadelphia--Jonathan Lohman
• Twelve Aggie Angels: Christian Content of the Spontaneous Shrines following the 1999 Bonfire Collapse at Texas A&M University--Sylvia Grider
• The Shrine that Refused To Be A Shrine: Tragedy and Vernacular Responses of Resistance, Counter-Narration, and Reclamation
• Diane E. Goldstein and Diane Tye
• Goin' Back With Dusty Springfield: Memorialization and Pilgrimage, Henley-On-Thames--Susan M. Jamieson
• Day of the Dead and the Moral Economy--Regina Marchi
• Signifying Places of Atrocity--Ralph Hartley
• Forty Years of Conflict: State, Church, and Spontaneous Representation of Massacres and Murder in Guatamala--Matthew J. Taylor and Michael K. Steinberg

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