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Abstract

This article describes and discusses three recent cases in New York City in which anthropologists were involved in the identification, sanctification, and reburial of human remains. These examples show how living peoples may reach back into the past and join with the dead to form a desired "imagined community." Also discussed are the roles of anthropologists in these transformations of the dead into symbols of a desired body politic. Anthropologists who once focused on interpreting past social constructions are increasingly finding themselves playing crucial roles in the creation of modern ones.

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