Jenelle Davis

Emergency Aesthetics: Contemporary Commemorative Practices and the Politics of Memory  (snippet of Jenelle's proposal)

In my proposed study, I aim to show how positioning traumatic events as emergencies erases or obscures their nuances, such as the social, economic or political effect of tragedy on marginalized communities and their ability to recover from disaster. I will also demonstrate how the visual language of the corporate or government sponsored memorials serves a political agenda. While theorists have studied the affect of corporate memorialization culture through particularized investigations of tragedies as discrete events,  (Doss: 2010; Huyssen: 2003; Savage: 2011; Simpson: 2006) the tensions between the government or corporate memorialization models and community or personal commemorative practices have not been examined as a larger phenomenon across temporally and spatially disparate events. My project investigates the global compulsion to memorialize in a moment of seemingly endless “emergencies” therefore it views the choices that societies make in their commemorative practices as one of the key questions of our time. Looking across a range of geopolitical contexts, I consider a large corpus of corporate and government funded memorials vis-à-vis commemorations practices that diverge from normative traditions by recognizing their aesthetic and social importance.