In defense of the dead:materializing a garden of remembrance in South London

Berns, Steph (2016) In defense of the dead:materializing a garden of remembrance in South London. Material Religion, 12 (2). pp. 165-188. ISSN 1743-2200

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This article examines a campaign to save, protect and convert a once-forgotten paupers’ graveyard in South London into a remembrance garden for the “outcast dead.” A vital component of this campaign was the materializing and maintenance of a roadside shrine on the graveyard’s periphery. This campaign therefore raises questions about nonhuman agency (in terms of the materials that form the shrine, graveyard and garden) and its role in the making and protecting of a contested site. At the crux of this article stands the co-constitutive relationship between people and objects, including the gates and offerings, the supporters and gardeners, the local flora and fauna and, of course, the human remains. To explore how these heterogeneous assemblages helped to defend the graveyard, this article draws on ethnographic research, paying particular attention to discussions and activities concerning the site’s boundaries, visibility and permanence.

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Journal Article
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Material Religion
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26 Jul 2016 09:14
Last Modified:
15 Sep 2023 04:17