Accepted Paper:

Social visibility in the cemeteries of Mexico City: Photography and material culture of the dead  


Marcel Reyes-Cortez (Goldsmiths)

Paper short abstract:

A visual methodology might be considered as an intrusive entry into the sacred spaces of the dead. Through a carefully development of photography as a methodology, combined with social research tools, my project resulted in a richer and fuller recording of the cemetery spaces in Mexico City.

Paper long abstract:

My research findings explore the array of complex levels of sociability found in the cemeteries Álvaro Obregón, México City. The spaces of the dead such as cemeteries are at times regarded as non-social spaces due to a believed negligible amount of daily social interaction and activity between the dead, their living and the space. My paper argues that the spaces of the dead, like the cemeteries of Álvaro Obregón are clear examples of active social and visual spaces in which the dead are daily socialised and memoralised through a combination of contemporary funerary practices and material culture.

My paper analyses the phenomenon, socio-cultural and political conditions of the dead in the private and public spaces dedicated to host them by the use of visual and sensorial methods, analysis and practice of still photography in collaboration with other more established ethnographic research methods. Including the investigation of life histories of the people who visit and work in the private and public spaces of the dead in order to explore why communities in México City have embraced material objects and photography in order to bond with their dead. The research explores deeper why photography is playing a greater role in the contemporary rituals dedicated to the dead in the cemeteries of a megalopolis.

Panel P28
Photography as a research method