Communicative Commemoration and Graveside Shrines: Jim Morrison, Princess Diana, My ‘Bro’ Max, and Boogs the Cat

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Contribution to Book

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Spontaneous Shrines and Public Memorializations of Death


Palgrave MacMillan

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Shrines mark hallowed spots; they are composed of culturally or personally significant relics. We travel to shrines to express our devotion and pain, to ask for help, to reach toward other worlds, to remember, and to heal. In this article, I discuss several types of contemporary shrines and detail some of the behaviors surrounding them. While I do not attempt to be exhaustive; I do present specific examples of some common kinds of secular folk shrines, which are part of a material process of communicative commemoration. The shrines I examine include spontaneous shrines, official shrines, roadside shrines, and especially graveside shrines. I delineate the manner in which these shrines are related to each other and also their differing and distinctive features. Finally, I consider spontaneous shrines as a manifestation of consumer culture.

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