Memory, Urban Violence & Performance

There is an African proverb that says, there is nothing wrong with taking what you need from the past in order to find your way in the future.

This blog is about remembering the past in order to re-imagine the future. Letters from the Dead is the name of a series of activities commemorating those killed in urban violence in Jamaica and other places. These activities bring attention to the ways in which mourning can be a form of social critique and public art.

Through  these various means, people who have experienced different kinds of violence in communities come together online and in person to make links between what is happening globally and what is happening in our communities.

Violence affects everyone in different ways but no one escapes it. Public Community art can help people work through the ways in which violence has affected them. It can help folks from different social backgrounds connect with each other, talk about their memories and envision what they would like to change.


‘Letters from the Dead’ is a project where people who have experienced different kinds of violence in communities come together online and in person. We discuss and create public art that helps us remember those who have died due to violence while making links between what is happening globally and what is happening in our communities.

Through these various ways, people who have experienced different kinds of violence in communities come together online and in person to make links between what is happening globally and what is happening in our communities.
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Our art-making consists of walks, theatre, street murals, statues and other ways to remember the dead. We discuss how losses of the past can help us find ways to build justice in the present.

This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

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