The Politics of Afterlives


When political power is asserted or contested, the dead and their afterlives regularly make an appearance. Celebrated as martyrs, the dead have the capacity to mobilise communities and inspire upheaval. They inspire cultural production and concerted commemoration. Yet we know too little about the concrete mechanisms that render afterlives central sites for the constitution, performance, and contestation of political power. Through an ethnographic study of the politics of afterlives in Kurdish communities, this project conceptualizes death not just as the endpoint of politics but as a moment that may unleash potent forces that political actors are keen to harness and direct. Observing that afterlives are regularly mobilized to imbue life into the body politic, the project suggests that their government is central for the (un)making of political power and community.

Key publications