The Politics of Mourning: The Triangle Fire and Political Belonging
38 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2010 Last revised: 17 Sep 2011
Date Written: July 15, 2011
A politics of mourning invokes the deaths of everyday citizens to call for political change. For this to occur, a loss must be visible and provoke discussions about responsibility. Mourning gauges political standing and belonging; it is also a moment when these categories can be transformed. In this article, I analyze the Triangle Fire of 1911 as a site of political mourning that ultimately provoked a mixed response to the political status quo: it improved labor’s position in relation to industry by opening formerly private spaces of employment to government regulation, but did so by expanding the domain of whiteness rather than contesting the racialized construction of the polity. In doing so, the mourning after Triangle contributed to the construction of a white body politic.
Keywords: mourning, Triangle Fire, race, standing, belonging, political identity
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