Accepted paper:

The silent detournment: "flexible graves" in the city of the living


C. Nadia Seremetakis (University of the Peloponnese)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyzes the gradual multiplication of post-secular, noninstitutional, informalized “flexible graves” in Greek urban streets via theorists like E. Wolf, G. Agamben, Ph. Aries, De Certeau, and N.Thrift.

Paper long abstract:

In the era of globalization, the increasingly porous boundaries between nations and cultures, and of fragmentation of national, cultural and ethnic identities, Greek culture has been characterized by an emphasis on permanent structures, museums and public statuary, that safeguard institutional memory. This emphasis though, during the recent European socio-economic crisis and the increasing violence that turned urban Greek environment chaotic, has been coupled by a gradual multiplication of post-secular, noninstitutional, informalized "flexible graves" in Greek urban streets. These are miniature church-like constructions featuring the name and picture of the individual dead who "left his/her last breath"(usually in a car accident) on that spot of the street, and they are regularly tended and ornamented by the deceased's family. They have multiplied imperceptibly—defying all state interventions and spatial surveillance particularly with intensification of policing due to anti-austerity protests—(re)claiming a space for the dead and domestic history in the privatized urbanscape of the living. This paper discusses this "new" evidence of public death in everyday Greek life and culture by rethinking Eric Wolf's idea of the sacrilization of the Mediterranean domestic space as a sanctuary space, Giorgio Agamben's notion of the profanation of restrictive institutional semiologies, Philip Aries's privatization of the dead, De Certeau's pedestrian speech acts, the Situationist model of detournement (remediation and rescripting and remapping of urban space), and Niger Thrift's urging for a spatial politics of affect . (Presentation includes visual material). -------------------------------------------------

panel P16
The 'evidence' of death: necrographic accounts on death perspectives