Why Materiality in Mourning Matters

Brennan, Michael Why Materiality in Mourning Matters. In: The Materiality of Mourning: Cross-disciplinary Perspectives. Routledge, London and New York, pp. 222-242. ISBN 9780815356639 (Accepted for Publication)

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This chapter examines the role of materiality in mourning. Taking an understanding of materiality as the capacity of objects to possess agency by virtue of their effects, I argue that materiality is central to the workings out of mourning and loss. Materiality matters, whether in the material objects by which we commemorate the dead, in the material objects left behind by or that serve as (often painful) reminders of the dead (and what has gone before), or in the materially constituted practices of mourning through which grief is performed. That it does, I suggest, can be seen from the felt need to ‘do something’ using material objects in the rituals of public mourning following death and disaster; in the vexed issues of what to do with the material objects bequeathed by the deceased; in the desire to recover the remains of the dead following disaster so that mourning can proceed; and in debates about the management of material objects used to commemorate the dead in the public domain. Despite the perceived obsolescence of material objects in the advent of an increasingly virtual world made possible by a revolution in technology, my chief argument, plainly put, is this: that material practices of the self through which mourning is enacted and performed are not supplanted but, rather, facilitated by the bodily interaction with online technologies. Materiality (as agency and meaning-making) is thus produced by the synergy created in the interaction between the body (itself a form of physical matter) and the objects of material culture.

Item Type: Book Section
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > School of Social Science
Depositing User: Michael Brennan
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2018 12:58
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2018 12:58
URI: https://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/2355

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