Category Archives: memorials

Shouldn’t Grief Have the Power to Enact Change?

As the lawn outside of the University Medical Center in Tucson becomes blanketed by photos and candles and stuffed animals commemorating the people gunned down by Jared Loughner, I turned for insight to Memorial Mania, a new book that documents the explosion in public memorialization in America and found this interesting observation: “Some temporary memorials engage social and political transformation–granting personhood to previously silenced subjects, demanding inclusion for those subjects within an expanded national imagination,” writes art historian Erika Lee Doss. “Yet other temporary memorials are frozen in emotional catharsis, fixated on exclusionary religious and political tenets and/or beholden to grief industry experts who promote them as ways to “work through” trauma. They are the material and emotional testimonials of a nation grief-stricken by violent death and yet seemingly disengaged from the social and political initiatives that might check such violence.”