Valentina Zagaria, PhD candidate in Social Anthropology at London School of Ec - Wednesday 18th April, 4-6 pm, at University Place 2.217
|Dates:||18 April 2018|
|Times:||16:00 - 18:00|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||School of Social Sciences|
Title of the event:
Visiting Postgraduate Seminar
Department of Anthropology, University of Manchester
Valentina Zagaria, PhD candidate in Social Anthropology at London School of Economics.
Date and Time:
Wednesday 18th April, 4-6 pm, at University Place 2.217
Title and abstract of the seminar:
The Clandestine Cemetery: Responsibility, Empathy and the Work of Dignity in a Tunisian Border Town
The question of how and where to bury unknown persons victims of the EU border has come to the fore in recent years in Tunisia, as citizens are now able to have an open discussion about how this is being addressed by the authorities – something they were unable to do during the Ben Ali dictatorship. Yet everyone involved in these burials locally – the police, coast guards, fire fighters, doctors, Red Crescent volunteers, municipality employees – agree that the way in which these dead persons are being buried is “wrong”: it is neither dignified nor respectful to the dead. The cemetery of unknown persons is located in an isolated area on the outskirts of Zarzis, on a terrain that used to serve as a garbage dump. The land in this area is a sebkha, a marsh, deemed particularly inappropriate for providing the dead with a stable resting ground. Local authorities claim it was the only place they had available. The cemetery is not signalled, nor is it enclosed by a fence. If a visitor were to venture there without someone who knows where it is located it would be almost impossible to find, as it is indistinguishable from the continuum of olive trees and piles of rubbish that surround it. This paper will explore how my interlocutors make sense of the mismanagement of these burials, and how despite a lack of means they work to humanise and dignify these human remains. By focusing on how this locally perceived peripheral and yet uncomfortable issue is addressed, I will think through what these understandings and actions may tell us about who and what is to be mourned, what a dignified death may entail and, by contrast, a dignified life.
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