Mourning Missing Migrants: Ambiguous Loss and the Grief of Strangers

In: Border Deaths: Causes, Dynamics and Consequences of Migration-Related Mortality, edited by Paolo Cuttitta and Tamara Last, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, 2020, pp. 103-116.
Giorgia Mirto, Simon Robins, Karina Horsti, Pamela J. Prickett, Deborah Ruiz Verduzco, Victor Toom
Publication Year
Europe and Central Asia / Global
Thematic Area
Family Needs / Identification / Management of the Dead / Memorialization / Mental Health / Migration
Open access

While the term missing refers to various instances and practices, we focus on the bodies of deceased migrants that remain unidentified, and on the inability of families to mourn someone when there is no body to grieve for. We deploy some ethnographic fragments of how Italian communities sometimes mourn those who are buried without a name and we describe the many problems of mourning someone whose fate is unknown through a discussion of the notion of ‘ambiguous loss’. Our contribution articulates some of the politics around deaths in migration by considering how missing migrants and their bodies are mourned in multiplicity.