The Politicization of the Dead: Violence as Performance, Politics as Usual

Ventura R. Pérez

in The Bioarchaeology of Violence

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780813041506
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780813043876 | DOI:
The Politicization of the Dead: Violence as Performance, Politics as Usual

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Research on violence needs to move beyond viewing violence simply as an abhorrent act and develop a means of understanding why violence is a constant in human societies. The intent of this chapter by Ventura R. Pérez is to explore the concept of the “politicization of the dead” which is the notion that human remains become a medium through which the living can manipulate cultural practices and behaviors of their own group or the “other.” The treatment (both at the time of death and after) of the individuals who die as a result of violent encounters then become a crucial indicator of the cultural realities of the group. The value of this approach is that violence is not seen as an isolated act but as the collective practices of the group with meaning that continues on long after death.

Keywords: Structural violence; Skeletal remains; Mortuary practices; Bone modification; Cannibalism; Ancestor worship

Chapter.  5678 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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