Heterotopias – Roadside memorials

Roadside memorials are not mentioned in Foucault’s list of Heterotopias yet they have become increasingly important within modern culture as sites of grieving and memorial, often tended with as much care and thought as a real gravesite.  This distinction as a place of ‘difference’ inside our everyday space, closed to all except those for whom it has meaning,  certainly qualifies the roadside memorial as a heterotopic site.  There is continued debate over whether roadside memorials should be allowed.  Many view roadside memorials as a distraction and therefore a danger to other motorists while others see them as important places for expressions of grief, and subsequently serve as a warning to the dangers of the road.   Sensitivities are particularly roused around the fact that the memorials are often erected on public land, the memorial site carving out a very private closed space within a ‘open to all’ public space.

Roadside memorials would seem to be a site for more sustained sociological investigation particularly in regards to it’s proliferation and resistance and the meaning behind both.

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