Making, Sharing and Extending Presence in Spontaneous Memorials: The Case of the 2017 Manchester Attack

Kostas Arvanitis, Robert Simpson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter draws on theories of presence and the case study of the Manchester Arena bombing (22nd May 2017) to discuss how spontaneous memorials in the aftermath of tragic events, such as terrorist attacks, construct embodied, performative, participatory, and social presences.

It proposes three types of presence: Making Presence, which articulates the materiality-focused creativity involved in making memorial items; Sharing Presence, which focuses on the social experience of presenting those items to the spontaneous memorial site and being co-present with others; and Extending Presence, which argues that the previous two types of presences are reconstituted in the space of the museum that collects spontaneous memorials.

The chapter’s key argument is that spontaneous memorials construct an embodied presence, which is expressed through creative materiality, physical journeying and social sharing. In turn, it is this embodied presence that is collected and ‘re-presenced’ in the space of the museum. This proposition contributes to academic scholarship on the motivations and purposes of spontaneous memorialisation and can inform strategies and practices of collecting, curating and managing such spontaneous memorials.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRemembering, Forgetting and Anticipating Urban Terrorism in Europe since 2004
EditorsK Karcher, Y. Dimcheva, M. Medina
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Feb 2024


  • spontaneous memorials
  • Manchester Arena bombing
  • terrorism
  • collecting
  • presence

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Creative Manchester


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