The Political Lives of Dead Bodies

Reburial and Postsocialist Change

Katherine Verdery

Columbia University Press

The Political Lives of Dead Bodies

Pub Date: September 2000

ISBN: 9780231112314

208 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $32.00£28.00

Pub Date: April 1999

ISBN: 9780231500432

208 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $31.99£28.00

The Political Lives of Dead Bodies

Reburial and Postsocialist Change

Katherine Verdery

Columbia University Press

Since 1989, scores of bodies across Eastern Europe have been exhumed and brought to rest in new gravesites. Katherine Verdery investigates why certain corpses—the bodies of revolutionary leaders, heroes, artists, and other luminaries, as well as more humble folk—have taken on a political life in the turbulent times following the end of Communist Party rule, and what roles they play in revising the past and reorienting the present. Enlivening and invigorating the dialogue on postsocialist politics, this imaginative study helps us understand the dynamic and deeply symbolic nature of politics—and how it can breathe new life into old bones.
A pithy, and highly readable, example of current anthropological approaches to national-level politics. The emergence of such a focus on national-level processes is one of the most important developments in the anthropological study of politics today. David I. Kertzer, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
Unusual and provocative... designed to provoke discussion and debate, rather than close it. Slavic and East European Journal
Verdery certainly deserves praise for having opened up an intriguing (and understudied) topic. The book leaves us hoping for a sequel. Derek Bickerton, The New York Times Book Review
For those jaded by a view of nationalis as ' a matter of territorial borders, state-making, "constructionism", or resource competition,' Verdery's work offers welcome refreshment. Social Anthropology
Were Verdery not one of the premier anthropologists and specialists on eastern Europe, most readers might not take seriously a book that the author herself half-jokingly calls a study in political necrophilia...But this exploration... is entirely serious. Foreign Affairs
The affairs of Eastern Europe, and especially those of the lands that were once Yugoslavia, now hold the attention of the entire world. Verdery gives readers a new angle of vision on this troubled region. Carl L. Bankston III, Commonweal
Writing about a topic involving corpses and reburials presents its own challenges, and Verdery has mastered them admirably. Neither lurid nor cynical, neither too dry nor too sanctimonious, her prose is on the whole matter-of-factly, but not without lighthearted moments. Gerhard Sonnert, Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism

About the Author

Katherine Verdery is Eric R. Wolf Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. She is the author of What Was Socialism, and What Comes Next?; National Ideology Under Socialism; and Transylvanian Villagers.