The Potter's Field

31 Jul 2017

I unpack the ‘potter’s field’ as an everyday practice and a category, especially as it operates in the material treatment of bodies as a mirror of life. I examine this space of ‘worthlessness’ as it exists in liberal capitalism. From the potter’s fields of São Paulo, Brazil, I consider how these are, in fact, mundane mass graves, made politically useful as a means to obscure important bodies alongside those who are, today, the subjects of terror. I then ask how the rise of the uncertified potter’s field –a burial field for the disposable not made legal by the state- is inseparable from recent historical and contemporary conditions of political abandonment. The uncertified field is made easy by a politics of abandonment, becoming useful to the institutions of the state as a material invocation of responsibility, interred elsewhere, while nonetheless advancing a larger logic of governance and political will in our times.