Political Mourning: Identity and Responsibility in the Wake of Tragedy, Heather Pool
The past two years living under the effects of COVID-19 have taught us, as global citizens, quite a few lessons about mourning, politics, and the closeness of human loss. While those lessons have shaped the political terrain upon which we form ideas and beliefs about whose lives matter and whose do not, little work in political science has offered a racial and political lens through which to measure, theorize, and name those experiences. What is more, there has been little scholarship committed to examining how certain deaths become political compared with others. Heather Pool's Political Mourning: Identity and Responsibility in the Wake of Tragedy does precisely that.
In this critical and timely text, Pool shows that while some human losses are inherently political (like those of active-duty soldiers and political leaders), others (like those of everyday citizens) may become political through the act of public mourning. Pool notes that the process by which death becomes political is shaped and attenuated by the existing narratives, stories, beliefs, and institutionalized practices to which the larger society is already wedded. In a sense, becoming political is rooted in becoming communal, as, Pool argues, it is in community that we learn about the importance of certain deaths, how the deceased are positioned in relation to our lives and society, a
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