This article seeks to draw up an inventory of the various methods employed by the Young Turk regime to clear away the bodies of massacred Armenians, which were obstructing transport routes and posing a threat to public health. Particular attention will be paid to the role of the Interior Ministry, which regularly issued instructions to this effect to local authorities. The first section will examine the use of rivers, in particular the Tigris and Euphrates, during the first phase of the genocide (May-September 1915) for the rapid disposal of bodies of deportees who had suffered a violent death. This process will be considered in relation both to the upper reaches of these rivers, in the mountainous regions of Armenia, and downstream, in the deserts of Syria and Mesopotamia, where witnesses reported seeing bodies floating by for months. The second section will focus on the running of the concentration camps set up in Syria and Mesopotamia, in which prisoners died of "natural causes" through exhaustion, starvation or epidemics. The procedures implemented by the camp authorities regarding the daily collection of bodies from the previous 24 hours and the construction of mass graves will be analysed.
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This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book shows the undeniable contribution and the limits of the biopower theory in the understanding of dead bodies en masse. It talks about the fact that criminology has for so long ignored mass crime, even though the link between the corpse and the criminal is one of the fundamentals of the discipline. The book addresses the issue of the practical and symbolic treatment of corpses by societies affected by mass violence. It shows how working ideologies along with historical legacy and geographical landscapes determined the disposal of the bodies. The book examines the simultaneously diplomatic and medicolegal nature of the activities of the French Search Commission for Corpses of Deportees in Germany. It also draws on German archives to describe the various modalities of treatment of corpses in Croatia.