Evil dead: the problematic story of the Jonestown corpses
“Evil Dead: The Problematic Story of the Jonestown Corpses” examines the issues that arose with handling the bodies after the mass suicide of Peoples Temple members on the Jonestown site in 1978. The Jonestown dead are treated as deviant and dangerous. This project examines strategies of classification and identification, and how these differed before and after the mass suicide. A particular emphasis will be on the disgust response as a shared signifier of danger. A comparison is drawn between the 2011 Jonestown memorial stone and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, examining how memorials can be made that separate the dead from controversial conflicts. The Peoples Temple saw themselves as participating in a ‘Revolutionary Suicide’ to advance a socialist agenda. This intent was lost in the aftermath of the suicides, and they were instead treated as irrational and excluded by their former allies. The eventual memorial only became possible by separating the dead from their cause.
Jonestown, Peoples Temple, Revolutionary Suicide