• Unbreakable Connections: Memorial Art & Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Sprit People (MMIWG2S)

    by Alexandra Weiss Where do you go to grieve when someone you love is missing? How do you mourn for someone stolen away, whose disappearance or murder has gone un- or under-reported, has not been solved, and whose murderer has gone unpunished? These questions have been faced by thousands of Indigenous people across North America during the decades-long crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirit people (MMIWG2S). It is hard to document the scope of the MMIWG2S crisis. These disappearances and murders have not been prioritized by law enforcement or received much media coverage,so many cases go un- or underreported.1 However, the Sovereign Bodies Institute, which…

  • Field Stones, Post Holes, and Unmarked Graves: Burial Commemoration Beyond the Gravestone

    by Robyn S. Lacy The capitalist market of death and burial is nothing new for North Americans. Overpriced caskets, expensive urns, and strangely specific rules in different cemeteries add an increasingly overwhelming price tag for which individuals must deal. The commodification of death as discussed by Jessica Mitford (1963) is a practice old enough in North America to have been the subject of study for decades. While artistry goes into the creation of gravestones and memorials today, much of the lettering and design is sandblasted or cut with other machinery, even though historically the lettering and iconography often were hand-carved by skilled masons. The more lettering the customer wanted –…

  • Breathe In and Out; Say Their Name: Renée Ater’s Instagram-Based Memorial, “I Can’t Breathe”

    by Kaylee P. Alexander, PhD “I am angry. I am anguished. I am heartbroken. I am hallowed out.” RENÉE ATER, “IN MEMORIAM: I CAN’T BREATHE,” MAY 29, 2020. This is how Renée Ater, a public scholar and historian, began a personal blogpost on May 29, 2020, just four days after the murder of George Floyd. Three days later she took to Instagram, posting a simple black square with Floyd’s name and life dates. Intended at first as a one-off post, an interruption to the too often rose-colored images that tended to occupy her social media feed, Ater soon shifted gears. What about all those other unarmed black and brown people…