Mourning and Memory in the Age of COVID-19
Keywords:collective memory, mourning, ritual, narrative, lyrical sociology
Contemporary disasters are frequently accompanied by a rush to memorialization. Although there have been significant grassroots efforts to memorialize the tremendous losses that the United States has sustained during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been no coordinated national commemoration, no single place or moment that has channeled public grief in a genuinely collective manner. While acknowledging the political dynamics at play, I also go beyond them to consider the challenges that COVID-19 poses for meaning-making: how it creates obstacles to both ritual and narrativization. Drawing on literary approaches to sociology, I consider how the discipline can respond humanely to ongoing disruption and the protracted sense of liminality that it creates.
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