How do we remember what we have lost,
what we have become, what tears us apart,
and what brings us together?

How does COVID-19 shape the politics and practice of mourning?

How do online communities create contested knowledge?

How do we care for the caretakers of the dead?

These questions frame and guide our research project, “Rituals in the Making,” in its study of COVID-19 death, mourning, memorialization, and misinformation. In posing them, we draw on scholars like Saidiya Hartman (who asks “How might we understand mourning, when the event has yet to end?”) alongside mourners we’ve spoken with during various stages of the pandemic (“Where do you put all this grief?”). We invite you to explore this website to learn more about the project, our research teams, what we’ve been working on, recent and upcoming events, and how you can participate. Welcome to Rituals in the Making.


Begun in May 2020, the Rituals in the Making project has developed over time  and in response the pandemic’s shifting dynamics. It comprises three studies and will continue through May 2025.


Our research team is made up of students and faculty in the Anthropology Department at George Washington University, as well as colleagues and consultants in related fields.


“Culture Keepers Oral History Project” documents how African American rituals (in the making) provide channels for resistance, counter untruths, and continue to stand as valuable sources of strength for its communities.


Since November 2020, the Rituals in the Making research team has collaborated with Bethesda-based visual artist Suzanne Firstenberg on her public installations memorializing those who have died of COVID-19.


As our team quickly discovered, there is an active network of organizations and initiatives working on COVID support, justice, and remembrance.


Interested in taking part in this project? Learn more about how you can participate by sharing your insights and furthering our understanding of the pandemic and its effects.


Dispatch: (n) a news item filed by a correspondent.

Dispatches from the field are how we keep you in the loop about our research. A dispatch can be a reflection, a briefing, an interview or a question emerging from our research encounters. Dispatches are ethnographic beginnings, sprouting seeds we are currently tending to and whose trajectory we are excited to share with you!