The University of Wisconsin Press

Anthropology / Modern Greece


Fragments of Death, Fables of Identity
An Athenian Anthropography
Neni Panourgiá

New Directions in Anthropological Writing

Winner of the 1997 Chicago Folklore Prize
Winner of the 1996 Pitre Prize of the Centro Internationale di Etnostoria

"A rich and beautifully written ethnographic evocation of Athens and its multiple identities. Panourgiá makes a highly original contribution to anthropology in general, and to the study of modern Greek culture specifically."
—Eugenia Georges, Rice University

The death of her grandfather sets Neni Panourgiá and her readers on a path through the rituals of mourning and memory in modern urban Greece. Blending emotional richness and intellectual rigor, the anthropologist returns home in this exploration of kinship and identity within her own family and native city of Athens. What emerges is not only a new anthropological view of contemporary Greek culture, but also a reflective consideration of the self and subject.

Following men and women grappling with questions of mortality, Panourgiá moves through the streets and neighborhoods of Athens, seaside resorts and pistachio groves, the corridors and rooms of the Cancer Institute, wakes in apartments and observances in cemeteries. She mingles popular culture, venerable traditions, and contemporary theory as she considers how individuals define their identity as Athenians, as members of a family, as subjects of a polity, in sickness and in health, in death or in mourning. Memory is their guide as it negotiates their relationships with a personal, collective, and cultural past-and the memory of many deaths challenges and reaffirms, deconstructs and reconstructs who they are.

As intellectually ambitious as it is moving, Fragments of Death, Fables of Identity reconfigures the subject and object of anthropological study and recasts the line where experience ends and analysis begins.

Neni Panourgiá is a consultant anthropologist and divides her time between Princeton, New York City, and Athens.

New Directions in Anthropological Writing

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This book is green and tan, and has a large group of people on the cover

January 1996

LC: 95-006196 GN
268 pp.  6 x 9
25 black & white photos, 5 line drawings, 1 map

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Paper $21.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-14564-6
ISBN 978-0-299-14560-3
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