For several years now,
I've been investigating the roadside shrines and crosses that friends and family members construct in memory of those killed in automobile accidents. Developing in many cases out of the Latina/Latino and Native American tradition of descansos ("resting places") in the Southwestern United States, such shrines are increasingly found throughout the United States, and in various other forms throughout the world. My interest in the shrines is both cultural and criminological
(Ferrell and Sanders
1995). Each shrine creates a new sort of cultural space (Ferrell
2001a), remaking the roadside as a memorial to a life lost, salvaging something of the sacred from the profanity of noise and litter.
As friends and family members affix toys, photographs, key chains, compact discs, work tools, and other personal memorabilia, each shrine also takes shape as a public display, a symbolic life history of each individual victimized by automotive violence. And discovered day after day, mile after mile, these shrines have coalesced for me into something more: a roadmap of sorrow and loss, a vast graveyard splayed out along the open road, a suggestion of something more insidious than individual tragedy.
Jeff Ferrell. Culture,
Crime, and Cultural Criminology. Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 3(2) (1995)
Jeff Ferrell. 9-11 and the Public Construction of Commemoration.
Teaching & Understanding Sept 11. StopViolence.com.
Ferrell and Sanders. Cultural
Ferrell and Hamm. Ethnography
at the Edge
Jeff Ferrell, Tearing Down the Streets: Adventures in Urban Anarchy.
Crime and Criminology" (free full text .pdf) is based on his
field research for this book.
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