By Katherine Verdery
Due to the fact that 1989, rankings of our bodies throughout japanese Europe were exhumed and taken to leisure in new gravesites. Katherine Verdery investigates why sure corpses -- the our bodies of progressive leaders, heroes, artists, and different luminaries, in addition to extra humble people -- have taken on a political existence within the turbulent occasions following the tip of Communist celebration rule, and what roles they play in revising the earlier and reorienting the current. Enlivening and invigorating the discussion on postsocialist politics, this creative learn is helping us comprehend the dynamic and deeply symbolic nature of politics -- and the way it could breathe new existence into previous bones.
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Extra info for The political lives of dead bodies: reburial and postsocialist change
Politics around a reburied corpse thus beneﬁts from the aura of sanctity the corpse is presumed to bear, and from the implicit suggestion that a reburial (re)sacralizes the political order represented by those who carry it out. Their sacred associations contribute to another quality of dead bodies as symbols: their connection with affect, a signiﬁcant problem for social analysis. Anthropologists have long asked, Wherein lies the efficacy of symbols? 23 The same question troubles other social sciences as well: Why do some things and not others work emotionally in the political realm?
My task in what follows is to explore some of those uniquenesses and at the same time to seek commonalities among these postsocialist cases. In the ﬁrst chapter I offer some framing concepts that I ﬁnd fruitful for thinking about the political lives of dead bodies; in chapters and , I give two extended examples to illustrate those points. My overall argument underscores the role of dead bodies in animating postsocialist politics, as people struggle to come to terms with the profound changes in their environments and their universes of meaning that have ensued from the events of .
Yet because they have a single name and a single body, they present the illusion of having only one signiﬁcance. Fortifying that illusion is their materiality, which implies their having a single meaning that is solidly “grounded,” even though in fact they have no such single meaning. Different people can invoke corpses as symbols, thinking those corpses mean the same thing to all present, whereas in fact they may mean different things to each. All that is shared is everyone’s recognition of this dead person as somehow important.