Secrets and Truths: Knowledge Practices of the Romanian Secret Police

A public lecture by Katherine Verdery, CUNY Graduate Center, Anthropology.

 The opening of secret police archives in some Eastern European countries after 1989 has provided an unusual opportunity to learn how these organizations worked.  This talk uses Katherine Verdery's own secret police file from Romania to discuss the techniques through which the Romanian Securitate sought to gather information and create knowledge.  Concentrating particularly on the use of secret informers, she will show how these techniques aimed also to transform the people subjected to them.

Katherine Verdery is Julien J. Studley Faculty Scholar and Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She has conducted field research in Romania, initially emphasizing 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, specifically changing property relations in agriculture. Future projects will take off from her Secret Police file, which she received from the Romanian government in 2008. Using it, she plans to write her field memoirs from the vantage point of the police who followed her.

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Duration: 48:21

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