The daily work of Erich Muhsfeldt, chief of the crematorium at Majdanek concentration and extermination camp, 1942–44
together, how they joke and quarrel.
Central to the everyday history, as developed by Lüdtke, is the
question of domination (Herrschaft) or, rather, domination as a
social practice.60 Everydaylife is not an apolitical vacuum; rather, it
is everydaylife that is the principal generator of mastery, through
the social practice of all those affected, through their perceptions
and interpretations, their actions and modes of expression. The
institution of the concentration camp created the framework and
the National Socialist ideology created the goal for violent
the circumscribed timespans of research and fieldwork but is a constant presence or a sharing of everydaylife. For this reason Narayan, writing on the figure of the native researcher, suggested how a rigidly dualistic paradigm should be replaced by a rethinking of a researcher’s role, which is characterised by ‘shifting identifications’ ( 1993 : 671) and the quality of the relationship thus created.
In my community of origin, my presence was never perceived as neutral and detached. I was often explicitly required to provide a concrete contribution, thanks to my
border during crossings and interviews about border crossings
with a grounded, situated approach that enables an understanding of narratives and
representations of border crossing in everydaylife away from borders themselves.
In this chapter, I draw on 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork in the Ukrainian–
Romanian borderlands, which included more than 6 months of participant observation in Diyalivtsi, a village in the Chernivets’ka region of Ukraine, just 4 km from the
main road between the region’s two main urban centres – Chernivtsi and Suceava. I
sight of a corpse is the distance that they put between themselves and violence’ (2006: 44).
For Bataille (1991) the constant containment or repression of the
fear of death and the sentiments that death produces characterises
the profane domain of everydaylife. This includes in particular the
taboo against killing, while its transgression characterises the sacred
domain of sovereignty, what Mbembe (2003) calls the domain of
death. In Bataille’s interpretation, sovereignty is intrinsically embedded in the body and in life as a biological force
killing factory, in which the high-pressure
slaughter characteristic of the battlefield and the slaughter pit
takes place almost daily over a long duration of time
• normal, ‘everydaylife’ sites turned sites of mass death such as:
oo the village
oo the urban setting
oo the bombarded area
• but also non-bounded sites of mass death over extended time
spans, in which the survivors are forced to move on, leaving the
corpses behind, such as the trail marched during forced expulsions and death marches
• and last but far from being least, societies on their own territory
Madeleine Hurd, Hastings Donnan, and Carolin Leutloff-Grandits
at historic places. Authoritarian sub-national time-spaces exist
in state institutions (schools, nurseries, prisons, hospitals, factories, offices), and
therewith structure our everydaylife and worldview from early childhood, often
Massey (1991) finds great exclusionary potential in the combination of time
and space. With advancing globalisation and the use of new communication technologies, the compression of space and time leads not only to an elision of spatial
and temporal distances (Harvey 1989), but also to places becoming romanticised
be said to cover the entirety
of the territory of the former USSR.14 The economic exploitation
184 Élisabeth Anstett
of the Soviet concentration camps thus helped to weave the gulags
into the most ordinary spaces of everydaylife: factories and hos
pitals, universities and residential buildings, roads and canals,
mines, forests and farms.15 Any part of the territory of the former
USSR is liable to harbour traces of this aspect of the country’s past.
The high degree of communication between these places of detention and the
) The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Crary, Jonathan (1990) Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth
Century. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Cresswell, Tim (2006) On the Move: Mobility in the Modern Western World. New York:
Cresswell, Tim and P. Merriman (eds) (2011) Geographies of Mobilities: Practices, Spaces,
Subjects. Aldershot: Ashgate.
de Certeau, Michel (1984) The Practice of EverydayLife. Berkeley: University of California
Green, Sarah (2012) ‘A sense of border
Corpse-work in the prehistory of political boundaries
As a trans-historical force that ‘exists’, as Nietzsche suggested (1994), ‘at
all times or could possibly re-occur’, political prehistory can be considered here a mode of temporality that belongs to the foundational violence of a prior legal order but which secretly inheres in the everydaylife
of the present.
A significant scholarly literature has attempted, if not to answer these
specific questions, then to provide abundant historical and ethnographic
contexts to understand the distinctiveness of the Shining Path as a
Although, as we saw earlier, 25 per cent of marriages in the village are translocal,
the absence of migrant wives is rarely mentioned or openly discussed. Naso often
said that he ‘felt’ his wife’s presence in his everydaylife, due to regular phone calls
and the receipt of things she sent him. But in other respects her contributions went
unremarked, like those of other migrant village women. Housekeeping, usually the
domain of women, is now carried out by the men, sometimes with help from relatives or with hired help, while the material flows that contribute