Enrique Ajuria Ibarra
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Conversations with spectres
Mexican graveyards and Gothic returns
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In Mexico, graveyards are not solely resting places but also sites for remembrance. During the Day of the Dead, visiting and spending the night in cemeteries appeals to the memory of the deceased. The return works through commemorative rituals in which the living and the dead are able to communicate. This practice is provided with a heightened visual appeal in the animated film Coco (2017). Here, the graveyard is a setting that foregrounds the connection between the living and the spirits of the deceased: when their living relatives remember them, they can return for one single night. The idea of the graveyard filled with returning ghosts is not new. In fact, it can be traced back to other works in Mexican fiction, such as in Juan Rulfo’s seminal novel Pedro Páramo (1955) and Mexican films Cien gritos de terror (1965), directed by Ramón Obón, or Día de difuntos (1988), directed by Luis Alcoriza. This chapter focuses on the conversational graveyard, an active site for remembrance and community, where hauntings return through memory and communication. In Mexico, the celebration of the dead is a social dynamic that does not necessarily involve Gothic-related traumas or uncanny revelations but more likely an awareness of family and life.

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