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Maya Nadkarni

Associate Professor of Anthropology

On Leave - Academic Year

Sociology & Anthropology-Anthropology


  2. Phone: (610) 328-8111
  3. Kohlberg Hall 244
  4. Office Hours: On sabbatical 2023-24


Ph.D. with Distinction in Cultural Anthropology, Columbia University, 2009
A.B. cum laude in Social Anthropology, Harvard University, 1992.

Selected Publications

Remains of Socialism: Memory and the Futures of the Past in Postsocialist Hungary, (Cornell University Press, 2020).
        Finalist, European Book Studies Book Award, Council for European Studies (2022)
        Honorable Mention, Heldt Prize, Association for Women in Slavic Studies (2021)

Response to "A Questionnaire on Monuments." October 165 (Summer 2018): 134-137.

“Warnings from the Future? Central European University and the Fate of Europe,” Invited contribution to Cultural Anthropology’s Hot Spots web series on “Knowledge in the Time of Crisis: What can liberalism learn from (post)socialism?” April 25, 2018.

“‘What Happened to Jokes?’:  The shifting landscape of humor in Hungary” (with Martha Lampland). East European Politics & Societies and Cultures 30 (2) May 2016, pp. 449-471.

“The Politics of Nostalgia in the Aftermath of Socialism’s Collapse: A Case for Comparative Analysis” (with Olga Shevchenko), Anthropology and Nostalgia, Olivia Ange and David Berliner, eds. (New York: Berghahn Books), 2014, pp. 61-95.

“The Postsocialist Life of State Socialism’s Secrets,” Invited column for the Soyuz Postsocialist Studies Network section of the Anthropology News website. October 2013.

"'But it's ours': Nostalgia and the politics of cultural identity in postsocialist Hungary," Postcommunist Nostalgia, Maria Todorova and Zsuzsa Gille, eds. New York: Berghahn Books, 2010.

"The Master's Voice: Authenticity, nostalgia, and the refusal of irony in postsocialist Hungary," Social Identities 13(5), September 2007.

"The death of socialism and the afterlife of its monuments: Making and marketing the past in Budapest's Statue Park Museum," Contested Pasts (Memory and Narrative), Kate Hodgkin, Steve Sturdy, and Susannah Radstone, eds. London: Routledge, 2003.

Teaching and Research Interests

Cultural memory and national identity; anthropology of postsocialism and Eastern Europe (Hungary); visuality, mass media, and visual anthropology; anthropology of gender and the family; anthropology of knowledge and secrecy.

My scholarship investigates the politics of memory and the challenges of historical subjectivity after the end of state socialism.  My first book, Remains of Socialism, (Cornell University Press, 2020) examines the changing fate of the socialist past in Hungary.  I introduce the concept of “remains”—both physical objects and ambivalent cultural remainders—to analyze all that Hungarians sought to leave behind after the end of state socialism.  

Currently, I am working on a project that investigates the postsocialist life of state socialism's secrets. This research examines contemporary debates about Hungary’s communist state security archives, where access is still more limited than among Hungary’s former Soviet-bloc neighbors. I draw upon ethnographic and archival research, as well as examples from the arts, media, and political debates, to illuminate how a broad range of contemporary subjects—from historians and journalists, to artists and writers, to archivists and historical commissions—all produce knowledge
from and about the archive.

Courses and Seminars Taught