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Keywords:

  • corpses;
  • dead body politics;
  • mobility agency;
  • death studies;
  • deathscapes;
  • Romania

This paper follows the mobilities between 1958 and 1990 of the dead body of Dr Petru Groza (1884–1958), a significant political figure in post-World War II socialist Romania, to explore the implications for human geography of engaging with the dead. Although there has been a considerable interest in ‘geographies of the body’ and ‘deathscapes’, human geography has had relatively little to say about dead bodies. The paper draws on literatures from death studies and dead body politics, as well as research in memory studies, history, anthropology and law, to develop an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the role of the corpse in society, and argues that human geography should do more to consider how dead bodies contribute to the formation of contemporary geographies. To illustrate these points the analysis first explores how the treatment of Groza’s corpse and the ‘deathwork’ associated with it is an example of ‘dead body politics’. Second, the analysis draws out the agency of the corpse and its role in a variety of ‘deathscapes’. The conclusion considers the implications for human geography of engaging with ‘corpse geographies’ more generally.