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P052a


Mediating Mourning: grief and justice beyond redemption I 
Convenors:
Timothy Cooper (University of Cambridge)
Vindhya Buthpitiya (University of St Andrews)
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Format:
Panel
Location:
6 College Park (6CP), 0G/007
Sessions:
Friday 29 July, 9:00-10:45

Short Abstract:

If political order is a form of organizing death, what does mourning bring about in the social world? Bringing together the study of mourning with the study of mediation, we explore what role empathy, condolement, and arbitration play in the material, visual, digital, and sonic cultures of loss.

Long Abstract:

If, following Achille Mbembe, political order is a form of organizing death, what does mourning bring about in the social world? Anthropologists have long engaged with the funerary and the commemorative as rites of transformation that re-assert ​​social order and political legitimacy. In the aftermaths of political violence, atrocities, and human rights violations, the publicity of mourning also underpins demands for truth, justice, and accountability. The extent to which mourning or grieving might serve as a call for justice owes much to doctrines of redemptive suffering inherited from Roman Catholic theology. Should the pursuit of justice, as the ultimate end to mourning, simply mean asserting normativity in the righting of wrongs? Can redemption promise more than vindication or the clearing of a debt?

In the context of politicised or ritualised grief, this panel seeks to think beyond the doctrine of redemptive suffering to ask how and to what ends mourning is mediated and made present to those outside of its communities of shared sentiment? We consider how mourning unfolds in a broad repertoire of sensations, interfaces, and affects that strives to mediate emotional and political solidarity through mediums for their circulation. Expressed through media aesthetics and sensational forms, mourning can challenge existing conditions of sociality and conflict rather than reproduce them. Bringing together the study of mourning with the study of mediation, we explore what role empathy, condolement, and arbitration play in the material, visual, digital, and sonic cultures of loss.

Accepted papers: