Lecture: "My Life as a Spy" with Katherine Verdery
September 27, 2018
5:00 pm-7:00 pm
UMass Amherst Campus
“There’s nothing like reading your secret police file to make you wonder who you really are.” So begins anthropologist Katherine Verdery’s new book, My Life as a Spy: Investigations in a Secret Police File.
Verdery is Julien J. Studley Faculty Scholar and Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Since 1973 she has conducted field research in Romania, studying the political economy of social inequality, ethnic relations, and nationalism. With the changes of 1989, her work shifted to problems of the transformation of socialist systems. Her most recent book takes off from her Secret Police file, which she received from the Romanian government in 2008.
In My Life as a Spy, Verdery tells the riveting and complicated story of discovering that during her decades of ethnographic research in Romania, numerous friends and colleagues had informed on her to the secret police. The New York Times Book Review said My Life is “ a fascinating, thoughtful and occasionally riveting book….. She employs three different perspectives: hers at that time (as captured in her field notes and personal letters), the secret police’s (as captured in its notes and reports on her) and hers today. She also uses the file to track down and interview several of the officers who handled her case as well as friends who informed on her. She approaches these confrontations not in a spirit of moral reckoning, but as an ethnographer trying to understand the social logic of surveillance under socialism.”
No registration is required for Thursday's public lecture.