Antipodes : a North American journal of Australian literature
American Association of Australian Literary Studies
Place of publication
AFTER BALI, OCTOBER 12, 2002, A RANGE OF PUBLIC rituals took place in Australia to remember those who had been killed in the bombing. In Melbourne, the most visible, and collective ritual was the laying of flowers by members of the public on the steps of the State Parliament building, at the highly visible apex of Bourke St. This was a much-publicized event that took place over a period of two weeks. It was a riveting and moving sight/site for many people, who left notes expressing grief and regret, promises of remembrance, and of revenge. The choice of the site, and what would happen there, was prompted by talk-back listeners to Radio 3AW's Nell Mitchell, who called in with many different suggestions as to where and why the laying of flowers should take place. This essay seeks to understand the processes and purposes of the popular, public rituals after Bali, asking who made them, what was made, and how popular--that is, open to formation by those not primarily and directly connected with the mass media and party politics--were the constructions? Further, in calling such an event a "postmodern ritual," the essay will inaugurate an analysis, through cultural studies methodologies, of the attributes of public rituals in contemporary Western cultures.
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