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Political Crime and the Memory of Loss

Director's Book Forum
John Borneman
Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University

*Registration required. Please contact Carole Frantzen at or 609-258-7497.


Date/Time: 12/12/11 at 12:00 pm - 12/12/11 at 1:30 pm

About the book:
Loss is a fundamental human condition that often leads both individuals and groups to seek redress in the form of violence. But are there possible modes of redress to reckon with loss that might lead to a departure from the violence of collective and individual revenge? This book, published by Indiana University Press (2011), focuses on the redress of political crime in Germany and Lebanon, extending its analysis to questions of accountability and democratization in the United States and elsewhere.

 "The juxtaposition of the German and Lebanese examples brings a unique perspective, one that is highly relevant in the contemporary world as we seek understanding of Europe’s relationship to the Middle East. Borneman provides insights on the ways these societies are working out the residues of war and violence. . . . The notion of 'political crime' is ground-breaking in its attention to not only state-sponsored violence but that aimed toward the state."
—Deborah Reed-Danahay, University at Buffalo, SUNY

"Analytically ambitious, drawing on classic and recent anthropology as well as political science and psychoanalysis. . . . [Borneman] demonstrates how anthropologists can add something to [debates about] some of the important political questions of our time."
—Tobias Kelly, University of Edinburgh

About the author:
John Borneman is a professor of anthropology at Princeton University and one of the founding editors of P-ROK: Princeton Report on Knowledge. He has conducted fieldwork in Germany, Central Europe, Lebanon, and Syria. His interests include the symbolic forms of political identification, the relation of the state to everyday life, forms of justice and accountability, and regime change. Borneman’s current project is an anthropology of secularism. He has written widely on kinship, sexuality, nationality, and political form, with an ethnographic focus on Germany and Lebanon. A prolific author, his recent publications include Death of the Father: Toward an Anthropology of the End in Political Authority (2003), and The Case of Ariel Sharon and the Fate of Universal Jurisdiction (2004). At Princeton, Borneman teaches courses on culture and international order; the anthropology of memory; and money, sex, and cultural diversity.

Category: PIIRS