As katherine verdery notes, dead bodies have had political lives in virtually every civilization since antiquity. They frequently emerge as powerful metaphors of change, especially after a time of crisis when the meaning of political symbols is redefined. This is vividly exemplified by what happened to the exhumed bodies of various ethnic groups in the former Yugoslavia (Verdery 1999, 1–22). Postwar discourse is another site in which dead bodies frequently emerge as metaphors. Some of the most unforgettable sights concerning World War II are pictures of huge piles of exhumed human bodies from the mass graves of Jews. We know that these are not skeletons of those who have died natural deaths because these images have often been shown along with the pictures of inmates of the concentration and death camps, emaciated to the point of nonrecognition as living human beings. Through this process, the pictures have acquired an independent status as encoded language: they signify unbelievable evil committed against humanity, and they display the moral weakness of the rest of humanity that failed to resist and end such atrocities.

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