Abstract

In the burial rites of the Trobrianders Bronislaw Malinowski describes, a body is removed from its grave so that certain bones can be used as relics. He was joined in the tropics by Polish playwright Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, whose bones, it was later discovered—after his remains were relocated twice—were nowhere to be found. The two friends were reunited in a 2011 play that shares a title with one of Malinowski’s books: The Sexual Life of Savages. The anthropologist’s demonstration of how remains achieve autonomy aptly reflects the role bones and things play in “necroperformance.”

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