Katherine Verdery, who obtained her Ph.D. at Stanford University, has conducted field research in Romania since 1973, initially focusing on the political economy of social inequality, ethnic relations, and nationalism. With the changes of 1989, her work has shifted to problems of the transformation of socialist systems, specifically changing property relations in agriculture. From 1993 to 2000, she did fieldwork on this theme in a Transylvanian community; the resulting book, The Vanishing Hectare: Property and Value in Postsocialist Transylvania (2003) received the J. R. Staley Prize in Anthropology. She completed a large collaborative project with Gail Kligman (UCLA) and a number of Romanian scholars on the opposite process, the formation of collective and state farms in Romania during the 1950s. The resulting book, Peasants under Siege: The Collectivization of Romanian Agriculture, 1949–1962 (2011), received a number of prizes in Slavic studies and in sociology.
Verdery’s teaching interests include contemporary and socialist Eastern Europe, the anthropology of property, and time and space. Future projects will take off from the Secret Police file kept on her in Romania from 1973 to 1989, from which she plans to write her field memoirs. A short book from a lecture series, titled Secrets and Truths: Ethnography in the Archive of the Romanian Secret Police, will appear from Central European University Press in 2014.