Marking the lives and livelihoods lost to the pandemic through a form of national memorialisation could be an important step in coming to terms with the impact Covid-19 had on all our lives, but it is too early to say how this should happen, say researchers.
The government, via its UK Commission on Covid Commemoration, is currently analysing public feedback into how they think the pandemic could be remembered. Possible suggestions for this include the adoption of a Remembrance Sunday-style symbol, dedicated memorials, or reflective spaces.
But a team of sociologists based at the University of Bath says this process is too early and risks changing the tone and nature of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry, which will get underway in February 2023. In a forthcoming article to be published in journal Sociology, they argue that talk of memorialisation needs to wait until the Inquiry is well underway, or has concluded.
Lead author and Director of the Centre for Death & Society at the University of Bath, Dr Kate Woodthorpe explains: “On various levels, talk of memorialsation at this stage in the pandemic is too early. For one, the pandemic is not over when it is clear people are still getting ill and when there is still much at stake with the Inquiry.
“Deciding how we want to memorialise the victims of Covid-19 requires us to agree upon or accept a shared narrative about the pandemic and its impacts. In the absence of this, and against the backdrop of an inquiry which will both be highly charged and political, a rush to create a commentative narrative now is unhelpful.”
The researchers will be sharing their analysis at online event on Tuesday 24 January https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/covid-19-commemoration-tickets-468435933487. The event starts at 1700.
Find out more about the research paper ‘Remembering and Narrativising Covid-19: an early sociological take’.