Margaret Gibson

Margaret Gibson
Griffith University · School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences

Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Doctor of Philosophy (University of New South Wales, Australia)

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44
Publications
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512
Citations
Citations since 2017
22 Research Items
306 Citations
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Introduction
Margaret Gibson currently works at the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences, Griffith University. Her research investigates practices of mourning and memorialisation with a focus on material culture. She is interested in the use, meaning and value of physical and digital residues of the dead. What do these remainders mean for the living? How do they inform grief and memory work? She has published extensively in the area of objects of the dead as sources of memory, meaning and grief work for the bereaved. She uses Winnicott's idea of transitional objects in her research on the materialities of mourning and transitions in bereavement. Her work also focuses on representations of death and dying in media culture - particularly film.

Publications

Publications (44)
Article
This paper examines the emergence and trajectory of a vernacular femicide memorial tree at Mount Gravatt (Meanjin/Brisbane) which is juxtaposed with established and regulated official commemorative placemaking practices in this social geography. The paper explores the implicit rules about marking gender in official publics of commemoration, arguing...
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Hospitalisation can be a challenging experience for young people, including higher levels of anxiety, social isolation, and depression. In this paper we identify the possibilities of an applied theatre pilot that aimed to combine co-designed virtual reality (VR) approaches with intermedial work with young people in hospital. Within the pilot study...
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The title of this article is deliberately provocative aiming to trouble the imposition of identity fixations and reductive assumptions on creative endeavours and outputs. This article is based on a research project which investigated the identity negotiations and representational responsibilities of women visual artists of Muslim faith and/or cultu...
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The desire for immortality is part of the human condition. Tales of immortal beings, and of means through which humans too can cheat death, are part of mythologies worldwide. Great minds have spent lifetimes seeking a cure for death. It is easy, today, to dismiss alchemy and the search for the philosopher’s stone as childish nonsense, but it was a...
Book
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This erudite volume examines the moral universe of the hit Netflix show Black Mirror. It brings together scholars in media studies, cultural studies, anthropology, literature, philosophy, psychology, theatre and game studies to analyse the significance and reverberations of Charlie Brooker’s dystopian universe with our present-day technologically m...
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Netflix’s critically acclaimed series Black Mirror (2011–2019) brings compelling representations of the emerging fourth industrial revolution in which robotics, data profiling, VR, algorithms and biohacking are enmeshed in systems of governance, work, pleasure, intimate relationships, memory, death and grief.
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This paper engages with Madge's (2016; 2018) notion of the ‘livingdying’ through an analysis of three recent autobiographies of death and dying. Dying: A Memoir by Australian author, Cory Taylor (2016), In Gratitude by British writer, Jenny Diski (2016), and The Bright Hour by American memoirist, Nina Riggs (2017), provide insight into the sometime...
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Abstract: This provocation raises questions about the future of grief through digital vestiges that offer the animated presence of the biologically dead in the lives of the bereaved. The vast amount of digital data produced and shared with others accumulating on social media, on phones and computers, creates a substantial archive in which the dead...
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This special issue of Cultural Studies Review brings together an interdisciplinary range of scholarship to investigate the ethical implications of troubled images.
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In this chapter Gibson and Carden explore the creative and often spontaneous family constructions that can emerge within Second Life. These families can take various forms. They include romantic partnerships, “blended” families consisting of both members who are related outside of Second Life and members who are adopted in-world, and “constructed”...
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As this chapter will show, the commemorative culture in Second Life materialises the grievability of second lives as semi-autonomous as well as the grievability of more blended lives. In this chapter we consider the culture around commemorating and remembering important people and events. We describe the phenomenon of Second Life cemeteries in whic...
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In this chapter we engage with notions of nostalgia and returning to the past as they emerge in Second Life. The first section of this chapter deals with nostalgia for home. This is based on interviews with women who have recreated spaces of family memory to share with their mothers. We link this discussion about nostalgia for real-life histories i...
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In the context of the complex forms of kinship existing within a mature social world like Second Life, this chapter argues that the lives lived within Second Life are themselves meaningful and grievable, even as separate from the embodied life required for their operation. Although a second life is dependent on the physical existence and consciousn...
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This chapter explores the more personalised and domestic objects that are related to memories of lost and deceased friends, lovers, and experiences. We discuss those objects to which Second Life residents have a sentimental attachment. We discuss the way in which objects can serve as reminders of loved ones who have either died or moved on. We also...
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We discuss what it means to be a mature, not dead or dying virtual world. We also contextualise our findings in relation to media reports of Second Life’s seemingly imminent death. Second Life is a haunted virtual world with various forms of spectrality around lost and deceased lives, the persistence of memory, and the persistence of grievability,...
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This paper is based on interviews with self-identified surfers from both Australia and Hawaii who have extensive histories of participation in the surfing funeral or post-funeral ritual of the paddle-out ceremony. The paddle-out is an ocean-based death ritual in which the deceased are symbolically, and often materially through cremains, placed in t...
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Taking László Nemes’ film Son of Saul (2015) as both an aesthetic intervention into the public remembering of the Holocaust and as a critical/creative essay on representations of the horrors of war and violence more generally, this paper considers its use of the image and idea of the dead child—the child victim—and its ability to move, to communica...
Book
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This book takes readers into stories of love, loss, grief and mourning and reveals the emotional attachments and digital kinships of the virtual 3D social world of Second Life. At fourteen years old, Second Life can no longer be perceived as the young, cutting-edge environment it once was, and yet it endures as a place of belonging, fun, role-play...
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Focusing on the significant life events of death and grief, YouTube is examined in this chapter as a social media forum in which intimacy is generated between strangers in often fleeting gestures of outreach and kindness. This chapter argues that ‘intimate publics’ constitute a particular shift in the relationship between strangers as anonymity is...
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Based on fieldwork within the virtual social world Second Life, this paper focuses on its Second Afterlife Cemetery, promoting itself as the first ‘bury your avatar site’. Avatars are symbolically buried and memorialised on this site and so too are the real-life biological deaths of people who may or may not have corresponding Second Life avatar li...
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Death is one of the most significant human events and rites of passage, fundamentally shaping the life course of individuals, families and social networks. For this reason, recognizing that someone has died and ritualizing this loss requires forms of communication and mediation between individuals and families in relation to wider social networks....
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Through a qualitative study of YouTube bereavement vlogs and posts by young people about parental death, this article examines the rise and significance of intimate mourning between strangers. An unexpected finding of this research has been the speed with which young people create vlogs or post messages of their bereavement; very often within hours...
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Dominant ideas of the way groups and individuals should respond to a loss are socially constructed, and a number of scholars have pointed out this constructed nature of grief and mourning, suggesting that ‘human response to loss is not genetically determined but culturally learned’ (DeSpelder and Strickland, 1999, p. 96). Doka and Martin (2002, p....
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This essay examines the expansion of death and grief from private experience and spaces, into public spheres via a range of media events and communication technologies. This shift is increasingly acknowledged and documented in death studies and to some extent in media research. The modern experience of "sequestered death" has passed. Death images a...
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This article discusses private, informal memorialisation practices that mark scenes and sites of death in public spaces and places. It focuses on changing practices of public visibilities of death and grief – practices that render visible in a semiotic way what would otherwise be invisible or relatively unknown occurrences of death. It argues that...
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An introduction to the Death Scene issue of Cultural Studies Review, with reflections on the nature of the death scene in general and on the specific issues covered by contributors.
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It is often through conversations about household objects, jewellery or other items that the very subject of death is broached within families. Objects mediate and produce death discourse just as death mediates and produces value and meaning. The movement of objects within, across and between private/personal spaces and relationships, public spaces...
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This paper discusses the technology of polygraph machines and lie detector tests in relation to the body as a specific site of truth investments. It discusses the way the machine is imagined or constituted in popular culture and scientific literature as a means of discovering guilty knowledge or getting the truth objectively and painlessly. It argu...
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Death reconstructs our experience of personal and household objects in particular ways; there is the strangeness of realising that things have outlived persons, and, in this regard, the materiality of things is shown to be more permanent than the materiality of the body. In this edited extract from her book, 'Objects of the Dead', MARGARET GIBSON e...
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This paper examines the expansion of death and grief from private experience and spaces, into more public spheres via a range of media events and communication technologies. This shift is increasingly acknowledged and documented in death studies and media research. The modern experience of 'sequestered death' has passed. Death images and events are...
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Through psychoanalytical concepts, interview research and biographical text, this paper discusses the importance of objects in the lives of the bereaved. D. W. Winnicott's concept of the transitional object is used to analyse grief work through objects. Like the transitional objects of childhood, the bereaved often mourn through intimate things bel...
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Roadside memorials or descansos have diffused from a Mexican/Southwestern regional Hispanic hearth to increasingly draw the attention of motorists and public officials throughout the United States. In the current context, the authors' attention is on privately and spontaneously erected memorials placed at the sites of fatal events. Typically these...
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This paper focuses on 'death scenes' in the context of film. Death haunts our living as an immanence and alterity shadowing and marking our material being. We live knowing we are going to die and we live this knowing in the face of others and through various forms of representation. The certainty that we are going to die is also fraught with uncert...

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