Tag Archives: Remembrance

Spaces of Remembrance

By Catherine Waite

Everyone is familiar with the traditional symbols, places and times associated with Remembrance Day. This year’s Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, launched just under two weeks ago, hopes to sell 45 million poppies, the nationally recognised symbol of remembrance in the UK. Yet, the 2012 Poppy Appeal also incorporates a new and innovative method to encourage society to mark the 2 minutes silence at 11am on Sunday 11th November. By using the social media tool “Thunderclap” it is intended that the same message will be posted simultaneously on thousands of Twitter and Facebook profiles as a symbol of remembrance. In doing this the Royal British Legion’s appeal for remembering the fallen moves into a new space of remembrance, alongside the more traditional commemorations that take place at the Cenotaph in Whitehall and at local war memorials across the country.

Changes in the spaces and acts of remembrance have this year also been the subject of geographical consideration. The work of Jenkings et al. (2012) “Wootton Bassett and the political spaces of remembrance and mourning” uses print media analysis to consider how the Wiltshire market town became a nationally recognised space of remembrance as a result of British military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the course of their work they explore how this space spontaneously became a site of memory and remembrance, yet a site that ultimately became temporary in nature following the decision to relocate the destination of repatriation flights away from RAF Lyneham. It is therefore clear from both the innovative use of spaces and symbols by the Royal British Legion and the temporary use of urban areas as spaces of memory and remembrance that geography still has much to offer and yet much to learn about the contemporary uses of space.

Jenkings, K.N., Megoran, N., Woodward, R. and Bos, D. 2012 Wootton Bassett and the political spaces of remembrance and mourning Area 44:3 356-363

Poppy appeal launches with concert BBC News 24th October 2012

Royal British Legion first with Thunderclap social media tool BBC News 5th November 2012

Two Minute Silence Thunderclap

Death by Geography: reviewing spaces of death

by Fiona Ferbrache

US cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer Calvados (14), Normandy

Pick up a daily newspaper and you will find an obituary section providing biographical sketches of recently deceased individuals.  Last week, these included Coptic Christian Pope Shenouda III, children’s author Jan Berenstein, and Sir Alan Cottrell, chief scientific adviser to the government.  In the current volume of Area, Lakhbir Jassal (2012) writes that the subject of death has been scarce within academic material, particularly scholarly approaches that emphasise  space and place.

Among Area’s reviews this quarter, Jassal reflects on a book that does deal with the spatial study of death: Deathscapes: spaces of death, dying, mourning and remembrance.  This collection, edited by Avril Maddrell and James D. Sidaway, comprises fifteen chapters that draw from empirical and theoretical perspectives, and a multidisciplinary framework.  With the editors’ disciplinary roots in geography, this collection centralises the concept of place and space, not least through the use of the term deathscapes “to capture the spatial and place-based logics underscoring a wide range of social and cultural processes association with death and dying” (Jassal, 2012:124).  Jassel draws, for example, on the  “spatialised practices” and processes for  “managing, ordering and governing the dead” that are explored through chapters on body disposal, and private and natural burial.

The review draws attention to western traditions of death and body disposal – principally burial.  For Jassal, this is one weakness of the collection for it excludes consideration of the diversity of traditions that are shaping ‘the west’ as a partial consequence of migration.  Jassal’s other main critique is that the volume reinforces a fixed geography of death and dying that fails to adequately account for dynamic patterns of death.  Overall however, Jassal’s review shows an agreement with the Forward of Deathscapes; that this collection will “help in understanding the intensely emotional experiences of our lives” (p.125).

  Jassal, L. (2012) Review: Deathscapes: spaces for death, dying, mourning and remembrance. Area. 44.1, pp.124-125

  Obituaries in The Guardian