Charisma Thomson

MA (Carleton University)

Phone: 306-585-4766

Current classes
Fall 2023 - ANTH 100-003, ANTH 100-397, ANTH 242AB-001

Research interests

  • Ritual
  • Symbolic Anthropology
  • Performance
  • Material Culture
  • Popular Culture
  • North America
  • Medical Anthropology

My current research concerns the anthropology of death and, in particular, the rituals, performances, and practices surrounding the construction and maintenance of roadside memorials in North America. I am exploring the construction of what has come to be seen by some simply as an expression of private grief on public land. The roadside memorial encompasses a multiplicity of meanings that are evidenced in personal and public reactions to the main physical marker, often a cross, and the material items left in tribute at the site. My research focuses on how roadside memorials, and the ritual performances of their creation and maintenance, impact social perceptions and interpretations of not only mourning and grief but also how aspects of the ritual can shape, and be shaped, by understandings of personhood and what it means to be a moral member of a community. I am also currently engaged in a study of collective violence and conflict. This area of research, for me, ranges from large-scale military engagements to genocide, ethnocide, local disputes, and serial murders.