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Still Life with Bones: A forensic quest for justice among Latin America’s mass graves

Alexa Hagerty

ONE OF THE NEW YORKER'S BEST BOOKS OF 2023 SO FAR
CHOSEN BY FINANCIAL TIMES' READERS' FOR BEST BOOKS OF 2023
A NEW YORK TIMES BOOKS EDITOR' S CHOICE

"Has the makings of a classic." -The TLS

"Chilling and vital. . . sensitive and thought-provoking." - The Times

"Exhumation can divide brothers and restore fathers, open old wounds and open the possibility of regeneration-of building something new with the pile of broken mirrors that is loss and mourning."

In this haunting and poetic account, anthropologist Alexa Hagerty joins forensic teams and families of the missing as they search for the hundreds of thousands victims of genocidal violence unleashed by authoritarian governments in Latin America.

In Guatemala and Argentina, she learns to see the dead body with a forensic eye. She examines bones for evidence of torture and cause of death - hands bound by rope, cuts from machetes - but also for signs of a life lived: a weaver is recognized from the tiny bones of the toes, molded by years of kneeling before a loom; a girl is identified alongside her pet dog.

Hagerty shows us how exhumation can bring meaning to families dealing with unimaginable loss and justice to societies in the aftermath of state terror and genocide. Weaving together powerful stories about investigative breakthroughs, grieving families, histories of violence, and her own forensic coming of age, Hagerty crafts a moving portrait of the living and the dead.


"Touching, but achingly honest - a most amazing account of training as a forensic anthropologist. When Hagerty talks about "lives being violently made into bones," I defy you not to be moved. The text is unflinching, but then the crimes and the victims deserve nothing less. I guarantee this will make you think long and hard about cruelty and human rights and the dedication and humanity of the forensic scientist." - Sue Black, author of All That remains

'Essential reading as a human.' - Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, author of Fact of a Body

  • Classification : GENERAL NON-FICTION
  • Pub Date : MAY 13, 2024
  • Imprint : Wildfire
  • Page Extent : 320
  • Binding : PB
  • ISBN : 9781472295798
  • Price : INR 699
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Alexa Hagerty

Alexa Hagerty is an anthropologist, researcher, and scholar of science, technology, and society. She holds a PhD from Stanford and is an associate fellow at the University of Cambridge. Her research has received honours and funding from the National Science Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the American Ethnological Society, among others. She has written for The Los Angeles Review of Books, Wired, Social Anthropology, and Palais de Tokyo.

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