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Roxana Ferllini

This article presents an account of the involvement of forensic anthropology in the investigation of human rights abuses in the modern era, and the difficulties it faces with respect to lack of adequate funding, volatile settings, the presence of unexploded ordnance, corruption in governmental agencies and a lack of good will, absence of support for NGOs and the curtailment of formal judicial proceedings to effect transitional justice. Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Spain, Mexico and the Northern Triangle are provided as regional examples of the problems encountered when attempting to conduct forensic anthropological investigations to locate mass graves, retrieve victims and obtain proper identifications. Interventions by various organisations are highlighted to illustrate their assistance to forensic and non-forensic individuals through technical support, training and mentoring in the areas of crime-scene management and identification techniques. Interventions in mass-grave processing when state agencies have failed, the importance of DNA banks and information from family members and witnesses are also presented.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Martina Mercinelli
and
Martin J. Smith

The construction of an underground car park beneath the main square of Turin, Italy in 2004 led to the unearthing of the skeletonised remains of twenty-two individuals attributable to the early eighteenth century. At this time the city was besieged during the War of the Spanish Succession in a hard-fought battle that resulted in unexpected triumph for the Piedmontese, a victory that marked a fundamental turning point in Italian history. The current study assesses the strength of evidence linking the excavated individuals to the siege and assesses their possible role in the battle through consideration of their biological profiles, patterns of pathology and the presence of traumatic injuries. This article presents the first analysis of evidence for the siege of Turin from an anthropological point of view, providing new and unbiased information from the most direct source of evidence available: the remains of those who actually took part.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Élisabeth Anstett

9 An anthropological approach to human remains from the gulags Élisabeth Anstett We owe respect to the living To the dead we owe only the truth. (Voltaire) Introduction Archaeologists and anthropologists specializing in the field of funerary customs have long been used to considering the degree of social, religious and political investment placed in the dead body. Ever since the pioneering work of Robert Hertz, we have known that the social treatment of corpses is based on a series of rituals that bring into play the full range of collective representations

in Human remains and mass violence
Open Access (free)
Identity, heritage and creative research practice in Basilicata, southern Italy

Sonic ethnography explores the role of sound-making and listening practices in the formation of local identities in the southern Italian region of Basilicata. The book uses a combination of text, photography and sound recording to investigate soundful cultural performances such as tree rituals, carnivals, pilgrimages, events promoting cultural heritage and more informal musical performances. Its approach demonstrates how in the acoustic domain tradition is made and disrupted, power struggles take place and acoustic communities are momentarily brought together in shared temporality and space. This book underlines how an attention to sound-making, recording and listening practices can bring innovative contributions to the ethnography of an area that has been studied by Italian and foreign scholars since the 1950s. The approaches of the classic anthropological scholarship on the region have become one of the forces at play in a complex field where discourses on a traditional past, politics of heritage and transnational diasporic communities interact. The book’s argument is carried forward not just by textual means, but also through the inclusion of six ‘sound-chapters’, that is, compositions of sound recordings themed so as to interact with the topic of the corresponding textual chapter, and through a large number of colour photographs. Two methodological chapters, respectively about doing research in sound and on photo-ethnography, explain the authors’ approach to field research and to the making of the book.

Mass violence, genocide, and the ‘forensic turn’

Human remains and identification presents a pioneering investigation into the practices and methodologies used in the search for and exhumation of dead bodies resulting from mass violence. Previously absent from forensic debate, social scientists and historians here confront historical and contemporary exhumations with the application of social context to create an innovative and interdisciplinary dialogue, enlightening the political, social and legal aspects of mass crime and its aftermaths. Through a ground-breaking selection of international case studies, Human remains and identification argues that the emergence of new technologies to facilitate the identification of dead bodies has led to a “forensic turn”, normalising exhumations as a method of dealing with human remains en masse. However, are these exhumations always made for legitimate reasons? Multidisciplinary in scope, the book will appeal to readers interested in understanding this crucial phase of mass violence’s aftermath, including researchers in history, anthropology, sociology, forensic science, law, politics and modern warfare.

Marco Aurelio Guimarães
,
Raffaela Arrabaça Francisco
,
Martin Evison
,
Edna Sadayo Miazato Iwamura
,
Carlos Eduardo Palhares Machado
,
Ricardo Henrique Alves da Silva
,
Maria Eliana Castro Pinheiro
,
Diva Santana
, and
Julie Alvina Guss Patrício

Exhumation may be defined as the legally sanctioned excavation and recovery of the remains of lawfully buried or – occasionally – cremated individuals, as distinct from forensic excavations of clandestinely buried remains conducted as part of a criminal investigation and from unlawful disinterment of human remains, commonly referred to as bodysnatching. The aim of this article is to review the role of exhumation – so defined – in the activities of CEMEL, the Medico-Legal Centre of the Ribeirão Preto Medical School-University of São Paulo, in international, regional and local collaborations. Exhumations form part of routine forensic anthropology casework; scientific research in physical and forensic anthropology; and forensic casework conducted in collaboration with the Brazilian Federal Police; and are carried out as part of humanitarian investigations into deaths associated with the civil–military dictatorship of 1964 to 1985. This article aims to offer a non-technical summary – with reference to international comparative information – of the role of exhumation in investigative and scientific work and to discuss developments in their historical and political context.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
Sovereignty and the politics of dead bodies
Editor:

This book looks at sovereignty as a particular form of power and politics. It shows that the fate of bodies in the transition from life to death can provide a key to understanding fundamental ways in which sovereignty is claimed and performed. The contributions analyse (post-)conflict as well as non-conflict contexts, which too often are studied in isolation from one another. Focusing on contemporary issues rather than the equally important historical dimensions, they all grapple with the questions of who governs the dead bodies, how, why and with what effects. The book analyses how dead bodies are placed and dealt with in spaces between competing, overlapping and nested sovereign orders, under normal as well as exceptional conditions. It looks at contributions that draw on psychoanalysis, critical theory, the structuralist-functionalist anthropology of burial rituals and recent ideas of agency and materiality. The book first explains the efforts of states to contain and separate out dead bodies in particular sites. It explores the ways in which such efforts of containment are negotiated and contested in struggles between different entities that claim the dead bodies. The book then shows how entities that claim sovereignty produce effects of sovereignty by challenging and transgressing the laws regarding the legitimate use of violence and how dead bodies should be treated with dignity.

Subversive aesthetics and anticolonial indigeneity in Santiago de Chile

Building on analyses of the relationship between race, aesthetics and politics, the volume elaborates on the epistemological possibilities arising from collaborative and decolonial methodologies at the intersection of ethnography, art, performance and the urban space. It moves from practice-based and collaborative research with young Mapuche and mestizo artists and activists in Santiago (Chile), drawing together a range of different materials: from artworks to theatre and performance; from graphics to audio and visual materials. An edited collection, the book is constructed by shifting between different authorships and changing perspectives from the individual to the collective. This approach, while to a certain extent within the classical structure of editors/authors, plays with the roles of researcher/research participant, highlighting the ambiguities, frictions and exchanges involved in this relationship. Elaborating on indigenous knowledge production, the book thus addresses the possibility of disrupting the social and material landscape of the (post)colonial city by articulating meanings through artistic and performative representations. As such, the essays contained in the book put forward alternative imaginations constructed through an aesthetic defined by the Mapuche concept of champurria (‘mixed’): a particular way of knowing and engaging with reality, and ultimately an active process of home- and self-making beyond the spatialities usually assigned to colonised bodies and subjects. Actively engaging with current debates through collective writing by indigenous people raising questions in terms of decolonisation, the book stands as both an academic and a political project, interrogating the relationship between activism and academia, and issues of representation, authorship and knowledge production.

Colonialism, grave robbery and intellectual history
Larissa Förster
,
Dag Henrichsen
,
Holger Stoecker
, and
Hans Axasi╪Eichab

In 1885, the Berlin pathologist Rudolf Virchow presented three human skeletons from the colony of German South West Africa to the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory. The remains had been looted from a grave by a young German scientist, Waldemar Belck, who was a member of the second Lüderitz expedition and took part in the occupation of colonial territory. In an attempt to re-individualise and re-humanise these human remains, which were anonymised in the course of their appropriation by Western science, the authors consult not only the colonial archive, but also contemporary oral history in Namibia. This allows for a detailed reconstruction of the social and political contexts of the deaths of the three men, named Jacobus Hendrick, Jacobus !Garisib and Oantab, and of Belck’s grave robbery, for an analysis of how the remains were turned into scientific objects by German science and institutions, as well as for an establishment of topographical and genealogical links with the Namibian present. Based on these findings, claims for the restitution of African human remains from German institutions cannot any longer be regarded as a contemporary phenomenon only but must be understood as part of an African tradition of resistance against Western colonial and scientific practices.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
Why exhume? Why identify?
Élisabeth Anstett
and
Jean-Marc Dreyfus

search for bodies and their identification  – has traditionally remained in the hands of forensic science and has so far only marginally attracted the interest of history, social anthropology, or law despite the magnitude of their respective fields of application. In this context, one of the primary contributions of this volume is to connect the social and forensic sciences, for the first time, in a joint and comparative analysis of how societies engage in the process of searching for and identifying the 2   Élisabeth Anstett and Jean-Marc Dreyfus corpses produced by

in Human remains and identification