Mourning identities : Hillsborough, Diana and the production of meaning
‘Mourning Identities: Hillsborough, Diana and the Production of Meaning’ explores the meaning-making processes which contributed to the widespread public mourning that followed the Hillsborough stadium disaster of 1989 and the death of Princess Diana in 1997. It does so by the textual analysis of a sample of the public condolence books signed following these events and by drawing upon autobiographical stories related to each of them produced using the method known as ‘memory work’. Drawing upon a variety of theoretical frameworks, including psychoanalytic, poststructuralist and Bakhtinian influenced dialogics, it suggests that a range of social identities were ‘hailed’ and discursively mobilised in the public mourning events that followed the Hillsborough disaster and the death of Princess Diana. It further suggests that identification is an indispensable and precursory aspect of public mourning, which is summoned and given shape by epistolary and narrative practices of the self. Public mourning of the sort considered here is theorised along two principal lines: the iconic and the totemic. The former, it is argued, can be seen to relate to the largely feminine global structures of feeling through which the public mourning for Princess Diana were articulated, whilst the latter can be seen to relate to the largely masculine local structures of feeling through which the public mourning following the Hillsborough disaster were configured. In turn, it suggests that aspects of resistance to the public mourning following each of the events considered as case studies here can in themselves be considered as aspects of mourning, albeit for something other than the obvious referents of loss during these events. It further points to the situated social identity of the researcher as both instrumental not only to the motivation for, but to the outcomes of social research.