Talks & Conferences

Talks & Conferences (7)

Jornada de Antropología – Representación visual del daño y del sufrimiento social

8 May 2014, Madrid

Departamento de Antropología Social y Cultural de la UNED, en la Escuela Pías

‘Mi abuela no es un cadáver’

Recordando los Muertos en los cementerios de Álvaro Obregón, Ciudad de México.

En este artículo voy a considerar cómo la cultura material especialmente la fotografía, apoya la continuidad de las relaciones entre los vivos y los muertos. La investigación reveló cómo personas y actividades giraban en torno a los esfuerzos sostenidos por los dolientes, visitantes y trabajadores del cementerio para activamente mantener a los muertos como participantes en la vida de los vivos. En este artículo muestro cómo la cultura material puede proporcionar el vehículo a través del cual se pueden expresar las relaciones sociales con los muertos, y al mismo tiempo hablando con y expresar las características particulares de la persona muerta. Los mismos conjuntos de objetos y fotografías crean las condiciones para nuevas experiencias que están inevitablemente ligados al proceso de recordar a los muertos

Association of  Social Anthropologist of the UK and Commonwealth

ASA Decennial Conference

Anthropology and Enlightenment, 19-22 June, Edinburgh 2014

 

The Santa Muerte: magic and material culture in the cemeteries of a megalopolis

Author: Dr Marcel Reyes-Cortez

Summary

This paper will look at how practitioners of magic and followers of the Santa Muerte form different types of social meanings and will explore further how objects and photographs facilitate the communion between the living, the dead and the ánima.

Long Abstract

This paper explores why the cemetery is a magnet for social, cultural and religious interaction by investigating the practices and activities of the materialisation and objectification of the dead inside and outside its boundaries. This includes the life histories of its workers, mourners and daily visitors. My assertion is that the spaces of the dead, such as the cemeteries of Mexico City, are clear examples of dynamically active memory-making sites. In these the dead are revered daily, socialised and memorialised through a combination of secular and religious contemporary funerary practices, material culture such as objects, photographs, and the daily interaction between the living and the ánima. One such example is the regular use and practice of magic in the cemetery and regular visits made by non-mourners who are perceived to be witches and followers of the Santa Muerte. It also investigates how the diverse uses of material objects have been embraced to carry out such activities in Panteón San Rafael.

Supported by the evidence presented in this paper, I suggest that the embracing of material culture in the cemeteries provides and creates a space for multiple layers of memory facilitating and bridging the communion between the living, the dead and the ánima. I will also explore further how mourners’ religious and secular experiences, practices and activities, including the widespread embracing of material and visual culture, play an active and dynamic role in contemporary funerary rituals and social memory dedicated to the dead in the cemeteries of a megalopolis.

The Social Context of Death, Dying and Disposal 10th International Conference, Sept 2011.

The Art of Anthropology Conference, Sept 2011.

 

Abstract: ‘Visual research in the cemeteries of Mexico City’

My practice based visual research project explores how through daily and yearly cycles, mourners and workers develop and maintain intricate rituals involving the dead buried in the cemeteries of Mexico City. The conjoined landscapes of the living and the dead are spaces of personal and collective grief, charged with emotions, loaded with ethical and moral obstacles and obligations. In my project I set out to document meticulously through photographs as well as text the numerous ways in which the living and the dead remain connected over generations. Additionally, I explore the range of activities, labor and kills developed and performed by its gravediggers serving these intense, long-term relationships.

2-3 Sept 2011: ‘The Art of Anthropology Conference’

School of Art & Design, University of Ulster, Belfast

 

Upstairs @ the RAI, Friday 31 October, 2014, 5pm

Royal Anthropological Institute

Memorialising and Commemorating the Dead in Mexico City: A critical look at the Mexican Day of the Dead

Research Seminar followed by some tasters with Dr Marcel Reyes-Cortez, Goldsmiths, University of London

In Mexico City, the dead are very present in popular culture and are manifested in the spaces of the living, for example in art, photography, cinema, literature, music, gastronomy and political rhetoric. Claudio Lomnitz argues that death and the dead in Mexico have been turned into a national ‘totem’. This social phenomenon has developed some unique social and cultural practices. This seminar will show how people symbolically represent the dead in order to include them in their social and living spaces and create memory and immortality through material culture and photographic portraits.

Through daily and yearly cycles, people develop and maintain intricate rituals involving the dead buried in the cemeteries of Alvaro Obregon, Mexico City. The conjoined landscapes of the living and the dead are spaces of personal and collective grief, charged with emotions, loaded with ethical and moral obstacles and obligations. Based on his PhD field research, Marcel Reyes-Cortez documents the numerous ways in which the living and the dead remain connected over generations. This involves long-term relationships and a range of activities (cemetery workers, flower-growers, coffin makers, etc.).

 

Please book your free place: http://rai-day-of-the-dead.eventbrite.com

Royal Anthropological Institute
50 Fitzroy Street
London, W1T 5BT, United Kingdom

http://www.therai.org.uk

European Social Science History Conference, April 2012.

Abstract: ‘Visual research in the cemeteries of Mexico City: Photography, a social research method’

My visual research project explores how through daily and yearly cycles, the bereaved, mourners and workers develop and maintain intricate funerary rituals involving the dead buried in the cemeteries of Mexico City. Commemorative visual and material culture both religious and secular already plays an important role in mourners’ everyday life and activities. A more extensive use of the photograph and the practice of photography became a valuable social research tool, especially when looking at the exchanges and interactions between the dead, memory and the visual material worlds that assist the living, the dead and the ánima (spirit/soul) to stay connected in the spaces in which they interact.

I have chosen to explore the above social and cultural processes in part through a visual methodology, documenting meticulously through photographs as well as text the numerous ways in which the living and the dead remain connected over generations. The practice of photography eased and speeded the entry into the cemetery and mourners private and public spaces, it also opened access to the possibilities of collaboratory encounters within the field and with those people with whom I was working. Thus, I examined and extensively recorded through photography the cyclical memorialising and mourning practices, ritualised routines, and daily habits associated with the dead and the cemetery space in the borough of Álvaro Obregón, Mexico City. A visual methodology in combination with traditional ethnographic methods such as participant observation, formal and informal interviews, investigation of life histories of the bereaved, mourners, visitors and workers with an overview of contemporary Mexican funerary practices in Mexico City offered the project a productive instrument, providing a more nuanced understanding of the bereaved and mourner’s ideas about their relationships with the dead.

11-14 April 2012: ‘European Social Science History Conference’

Programme: University of Glasgow

CFP: What do we talk about when we talk photography?

11-13 December 2014, Moscow, Russia

National Research University, Higher School of Economics, Faculty of Philosophy

Программа международной конференции
“О чем мы говорим, когда мы говорим о фотографии”
11-13 декабря 2014, Москва, ГУ-ВШЭ
ул. Мясницкая, 20

 

Abstract: Photography as a Social Research Method

In current academic research photography and the use of photographs have opened the possibility for a richer and detailed level of engagement with spaces and people researchers encounter. My paper will discuss the practice and use of photography as a research method and critically look at photography as a source of evidence and memory. My paper will show how researchers can engaged with anthropology a critical forum to discus their experiences. Looking at the practice of photography as an art form in collaboration with the social sciences. Opening the possibility for ethnographers who use or wish to utilise photography to engage with the ways that theory and practice can collaborate in order for photography to engage with the phenomena of the social world, voicing the opinions and emotions of people and researchers alike. Giving greater sensitivity and richness to an ethnography and also for dissemination and analyses.

Through this paper I aim to explore how the ubiquitous photograph becomes a knowledge making practice. Photography with its sensorial and performative qualities opens interaction, creates and cultivates relationships with people. Photography has been found to stimulate and incite the emotions that bind people together. My paper will also look at how the practice and use of photographs and its limitations can open spaces and encounters of collaboration, speed the entry into the field assisting the research and participants a richer multi faceted field experience. This paper will expand the possibilities of the photographic practice and analises beyond the observational or as an illustrative source.

The Higher School of Economics

Moscow, Russia

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