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Accepted Paper:

"I want to bury it. Will you join me?": Commemorating Perinatal Loss in Spain from the Post-War to the Present Day  
Lynne McIntyre (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Paper short abstract:

Lost embryos and fetuses don't exist as social persons, yet some people are compelled to create spaces and enact ritual to commemorate their loss. Our research demonstrates the evolution of religious, political, and material practices in Spain from the mid-20th century to the present day.

Paper long abstract:

Is an embryo without a heartbeat a corpse? Has a stillborn fetus died, or never lived? And if they never existed as social persons, why commemorate their loss? These questions are at the heart of the burgeoning movement in Spain to create private and public spaces of remembrance for lost pregnancies. Such spaces have proliferated recently, and our research on the use of ritual in perinatal loss demonstrates an evolution of religious, political and material practices, as illustrated by the following cases: A sickly newborn, born in Asturias in 1942, baptized by a neighbor with water from the sink so that he could be buried in the town cemetery, while his older sister still recalls other, unbaptized stillbirths who had to be buried "on the edge of a vegetable plot"; a boy stillborn in 2015 and interred in the local Catholic cemetery, while the remains of his mother's third pregnancy, an 8-week miscarried embryo, are buried in the family's backyard next to the body of a beloved pet; a couple who buried not a body, but a box, full of tiny clothes, pacifiers and toys - the only material things they had to connect them to their first child, a pregnancy lost at 10 weeks. Our research into the diverse spaces being created and used to ritualize pregnancy losses is informed by LeFevre's (1982) and Ségaud's (2007) work on the production and use of space, as well as contemporaneous work on the material culture of pregnancy loss by Layne (2003).

Panel P179b
Afterlife counts: the economics and materiality of funerals and dealing with death [AGENET]
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -