Accepted Paper:

The sacralization of space  
Jack Santino (Sorbonne)

Paper short abstract:

Permanent monuments are usually assigned to space that is not otherwise felt to be sacred. In this paper I will examine such memorials, particularly the Memorial to the Deported in Paris, and discuss strategies used to create a sense of the sacred.

Paper long abstract:

Permanent or official memorials are often the sites of popular devotional behavior. My work with spontaneous shrines and grassroots memorialization (Margry and Sanchez-Carretero, forthcoming) has led me to a consideration of official and less ephemeral memorialization.

Permanent memorials and statues often become the sites of popular activities simply by their presence. The many statues of Marianne in Paris serve as focal points for strike demonstrations. After Princess Diana died, sites in many countries associated with the British government or royalty served as focal points for memorializing the deceased former member of the royal family. In many cases, the official meanings of the memorials are inverted or subverted, as statues to former dictators often are.

Space often becomes valorized because of events, such as untimely deaths. The shooting of Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords in Arizona resulted in vigils and spontaneous shrines at the scene of the attack, as well as at the hospital she was taken to. Likewise, the site of road fatalities is frequently marked by flowers and religious symbols. But how is space made sacred when there is no precipitating event that metonymically makes it special? Permanent monuments are usually assigned to public space that is not otherwise felt to be sacred. In this paper I will examine such memorials, particularly the Memorial to the Deported in Paris, and discuss some of the strategies used to communicate a sense of sacred space to visitors.

Panel P230
Ritual places through the ritual year II