Roxani’s essay in ‘I Remember’ Scotland’s Covid memorial book

Friday 15 March 2024

A St Andrews International Relations lecturer specialising in the politics of love and care in the aftermath of loss, particularly in conflict zones, has made a major contribution to I Remember – Scotland’s Covid memorial and a book which documents the pandemic.

Scotland’s Covid memorial consists of a chorus of initiatives, including sculpture tree structures and a memorial walk in Glasgow’s Pollok Country Park, created by the artist Alec Finlay, a crowd-sourced collection of public testimonies compiled in audiobook form and read by Robert Carlyle, and collections of photographs by Hannah Laycock and George Logan, among others. These initiatives are now accompanied by a book called I Remember: a Visual Record of Scotland’s Covid Memorial. The aim is to commemorate an event that, for many, is not over yet.

The opening essay in the memorial book, ‘Living Memory’ is by Dr Roxani Krystalli, an academic at St Andrews School of International Relations, who experienced the loss of her mother during the pandemic. While her mother didn’t die from Covid-19, Roxani, like so many others, was unable to travel home to Greece to say goodbye.

In a piece published by The Herald ahead of the Day of Reflection last Sunday, Roxani discusses the impact of society moving on from an event like the pandemic, and trying to draw it to a close through language, while, at the same time the experience is not over for so many people. She questions the use of terms like ‘post-pandemic’ when so many suffer from Long Covid and the after-effects of loss. She also questions the role of those in power and their desire “to get back to what we call normal and behave as if it is all over”.

She said that, while it’s not the case in the I Remember memorial, the creation of memorials can sometimes be part of a desire to cut short and move on, to not acknowledge the way that trauma is still part of people’s lives.

Covid Memorial image by George Logan
Covid Memorial image by George Logan

Describing the impact the memorial tree structures and the memories of the bereaved, which all begin I remember, had on her while visiting the park for the first time, Roxani said: “The bereaved, in this narrative, are not only people who can claim proximity to death. What they – what we – have lost is varied, and so are our responses to that loss and to each other’s pain. People mourn weddings and graduations that didn’t happen, they wish for an educational experience not punctuated by ‘you’re on mute’. They lament that there were newborn babies cuddled only by their parents, and grieve for dreams – of fertility, life partners, a different life – deferred. And there is, of course, still so much death.”

The memorial book has been published by Stewed Rhubarb Press, and Roxani Krystalli’s essay is also available to read on PURE.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

Category Covid-19

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