Making Space on the Side of the Road:

Towards A Cultural Study of Roadside Car Crash Memorials


With Words and Pictures

by Bob Bednar


There is no place that is not haunted by many different spirits hidden there in silence, spirits one can "evoke" or not. Haunted Places are the only ones people can live in.
Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (1984)

This site explores the rich visual and material culture of roadside shrines and memorials to victims of car crashes. I have structured it as an interpretive photographic documentary narrative essay that centers on field research I conducted in the summer of 2003 in Texas and New Mexico.

The project is driven by a central set of questions: How are roadside memorial sites constructed, negotiated, and contested? How do they embody larger contemporary cultural tensions between visuality and materiality and seeing and knowing? Between private and public tragedy, private and public memory, private and public culture, and private and public space? And how do I represent my work on the topic in a way that shows how I am implicated in it and that evokes the structure of what I am studying and how I am studying it? Let's move in closer...


All Design, Photography, and Text © 2004

by Bob Bednar

Department of Communication Studies
Southwestern University
Georgetown, Texas 78626
(512) 863-1440