This project aims to analyse social manifestations of grief in the first-person plural (following the death of a public figure, a natural disaster, a terrorist act, etc.), with a special emphasis on the material expression of grief in the form of memorials.
Carried out by B. Wagoner and I. Brescó, this research project forms part of a larger project, The Culture of Grief, led by Professor S. Brinkmann at Aalborg University (Denmark) and funded by the private Danish Obel Family Foundation with 169.746.708 € for 5 years (2017-2021).
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Although there are numerous studies on the style and architecture of memorials, as well as the (usually official) message they are intended to convey, few studies have addressed how people actually experience these sites. The goal of this project is to analyse how individuals interpret memorials as they physically interact with them during their visit. The ultimate aim is to explore the extent to which different types of memorials—both traditional and modern—enable or constrain participation in social practices of mourning and remembrance.

How does design feed into the way in which individuals experience memorials?

What material and sensory elements stand out for each individual?

What affective links do individuals make between their personal memory and the collective past during their visit?

During the 5 years of this project, field studies were carried out at the 9/11 national memorial in New York, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe in Berlin, the Valley of the Fallen in Spain and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan. These studies were conducted using innovative technology that combines walk-along interviews and the use of subjective camera glasses (subcams) that capture, both in audio and video, the situated experience of the participants.