We focus on the visual representations of death as well as mourning and commemoration practices in the wake of migrations, displacements, settlements and readjustments following epochal shifts, e.g. wars, socialism, colonialism, and their post-cursors, in communities left behind and receiving ones.
The panel invites discussion on the visual, spatial, and performative representations of death, mourning, and commemoration in public spaces. We specifically ask how public and private representations of death and recollections of life have shaped and been shaped by shifting landscapes, memory practices, or conceptualizations of what constitutes and delineates public space. By highlighting the term 'shifting', we encourage anthropologists to think about death and social memory in terms of both epochal and socio-political shifts within a diversity of geographic and historic contexts. How have migrations, displacements, settlements, and readjustments related to epochal and socio-political shifts such as wars, socialism, colonialism, and their post-cursors, affected the ways communities perform and visualize death?
Furthermore, through focusing on death, mourning, and commemoration practices, we hope to inspire further discussion about the complex historical and material legacies that accompany and linger after shifts. As the anthropologist Katherine Verdery (1999) has shown, exploring the literal movements of dead bodies in Eastern Europe in the early 1990s provided a unique opportunity to assess shifting regimes of time and space, e.g. from socialism to post-socialism in Eastern Europe. Visual representations and performances of death can provide a concrete way to ask how shifts happen; whom shifts affect; and how previous epochs, states, and their associated death practices remain or disappear? In other words, what can the anthropology of practices surrounding death tell us about the nature and persistence of shifts?