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.
ABOUT THE STUDIES
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.
MEET THE TEAMS
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.
IN AMERICA: REMEMBER
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.
PARTNERS IN ADVOCACY
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.
Conversations and observations from our fieldwork
FROM THE FIELD
Showcasing the “Culture Keepers” Research: Dr. Fletcher presents a preview of the oral history project on African American funeral homes
“It Feels Like We’re Putting Them to Rest”: The final day of cleaning and ordering the flags from the In America: Remember installation
The 20,000 flags enter a new stage as a physical-digital archive of COVID loss and remembrance.
Voices of Funeral Service, Missouri
Passed down through the generations in the African American community, funeral Service is a network of families forged by blood and bond.