In this article, I explore valuation of dead bodies in postwar El Salvador. Taking the view that human-rights violations are, in Paul Farmer's words, "symptoms of deeper pathologies of power," I start with the seemingly random violence of a fatal bus crash. I then broaden the focus to other categories of suffering undervalued by institutional discourses. The shift in death's meanings comprises a political project undermining the collective agency that sustained revolutionary efforts. The value of death has been (re)privatized and individualized in a way that has extended anguish. These changes in value index links between violence and the position of states and citizens in the world market.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-80
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Ethnologist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • Death
  • El Salvador
  • Human rights
  • Mobility
  • Neoliberalism
  • Structural violence
  • War

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology


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