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The body, the blank, and the trace: the invention of a presence in monuments and Memorials to the dead

Grant number: 15/25039-2
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2016
Effective date (End): March 31, 2020
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Anthropology
Principal Investigator:Sylvia Caiuby Novaes
Grantee:Carolina Junqueira dos Santos
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):17/18764-8 - The body, the blank, and the trace: the invention of a presence in monuments and memorials to the dead, BE.EP.PD


The proposed research is an investigation into monuments and memorials to the dead, from those produced in an official and political context, passing by those related to wars and genocides, to arrive at the most intimate and personal ones but also collectively shared - for example, particular graves, little crosses on the road and ephemeral homages and altars spontaneously created by civilians after tragedies. Drawing on reflections on the notions of image, body, memory and death, and on central aspects in connection with public spaces, we shall approach the memorial as the new body of a dead person, from the standpoint of a possible effect of presence, since the monument situates the disappeared person in the physical and material space of a community. These presence effects of the dead are thought of here through the idea of a presentification generated from the visible, tangible and/or legible nature of monuments and memorials, which produces, for the living, the idea of a restitution of the lost body. It is thus a question of reflecting upon what death conceals and turns into traces, into remnants of the body's passage, focusing on the production and use of monuments and memorials in collectively shared spaces. Mankind has always dealt with the disappearance of a body by designing rituals, images and monuments-these visible and tangible traces constituted by a new materiality, which aim essentially at evoking the effect of some presence of the dead person. This research proposes, in short, an inquiry on men, grief, memory, and gestures that are capable of rendering present again what disappeared, of ascribing a place to the dead by conceiving a new and different body, a symbolic, tactile and visible one. (AU)