About the Project

Rituals in the Making studies how the pandemic has changed the way we grieve and remember. It asks the simple but hard question: How do we mourn when we cannot gather in person? We are especially interested in how rituals typically conducted in the physical presence of others are being adapted to virtual spaces through platforms like Zoom and FaceTime.

Global crises, whether wars or pandemics, transform social life, and challenge all of us to confront difficult choices. Do we accept or resist virtual rituals? Do we improvise on the practices we’re used to? Do we create entirely new practices? Do we wait until it’s over?

Importantly, the pandemic also invites us to examine how complex factors such as geography, social inequity, race, ethnicity, and religious background shape the way we reconcile our obligations to the dead with the constraints placed on us—from public health mandates to more subtle social or political pressures.

This research is being done through the Anthropology Department at The George Washington University, and is funded by the National Science Foundation under the title Funerary Practices, Pandemic Confinement, and the Implications for COVID-19 Transmission (BCS-2029839)

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