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
Joachim Neander

During the Second World War and its aftermath, the legend was spread that the Germans turned the bodies of Holocaust victims into soap stamped with the initials RIF, falsely interpreted as made from pure Jewish fat. In the years following liberation, RIF soap was solemnly buried in cemeteries all over the world and came to symbolise the six million killed in the Shoah, publicly showing the determination of Jewry to never forget the victims. This article will examine the funerals that started in Bulgaria and then attracted several thousand mourners in Brazil and Romania, attended by prominent public personalities and receiving widespread media coverage at home and abroad. In 1990 Yad Vashem laid the Jewish soap legend to rest, and today tombstones over soap graves are falling into decay with new ones avoiding the word soap. RIF soap, however, is alive in the virtual world of the Internet and remains fiercely disputed between believers and deniers.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Marco Aurelio Guimarães, Raffaela Arrabaça Francisco, Sergio Britto Garcia, Martin Evison, Maria Eliana Castro Pinheiro, Iara Xavier Pereira, Diva Santana, and Julie Alvina Guss Patrício

Truth commissions are widely recognised tools used in negotiation following political repression. Their work may be underpinned by formal scientific investigation of human remains. This paper presents an analysis of the role of forensic investigations in the transition to democracy following the Brazilian military governments of 1964–85. It considers practices during the dictatorship and in the period following, making reference to analyses of truth commission work in jurisdictions other than Brazil, including those in which the investigation of clandestine burials has taken place. Attempts to conceal the fate of victims during the dictatorship, and the attempts of democratic governments to investigate them are described. Despite various initiatives since the end of the military government, many victims remain unidentified. In Brazil, as elsewhere, forensic investigations are susceptible to political and social influences, leading to a situation in which relatives struggle to obtain meaningful restitution and have little trust in the transitional justice process.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Fighting a tropical scourge, modernising the nation
Jaime Benchimol

7 Yellow fever vaccine in Brazil: fighting a tropical scourge, modernising the nation Jaime Benchimol Introduction In the wake of the Pasteurian revolution, vaccines and serums were developed for yellow fever in many countries. Yellow fever was one of the key public health challenges in Brazil for at least a century, from the 1850s to the 1950s. During this period, the most notable

in The politics of vaccination
Crystal Tremblay and Sarah Amyot

25 Participatory sustainable waste ­management project in Brazil Crystal Tremblay and Sarah Amyot Context People who live off materials recovered from the waste stream exist in every corner of the world. However, these recyclers are among the most exploited and socially and economically excluded people. Recyclers face enormous stigmatization, discrimination and marginalization. This project was established to focus on participatory waste management as an opportunity to generate income and to improve the quality of life of informal recyclers (called catadores in

in Knowledge, democracy and action
An Interview with Celso Amorim, Former Brazilian Foreign Minister
Juliano Fiori

decorated living Brazilian diplomat. As we began discussing international affairs and strategy, Amorim’s speech assumed a calm, professorial cadence. ‘Global disorder’ undermines international cooperation, he suggested soberly. And there is a need to rescue human rights discourse, despite the hypocrisy and selectivity of its liberal proponents. Amorim leant forward when I brought up Brazil’s recent withdrawal from the world stage. As foreign minister throughout the two presidential terms of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, from 2003 to 2011, he guided

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Luiz Eduardo Soares

Preface by Michael Keith The following chapter is written by Luiz Eduardo Soares, an academic notable for a professional biography that has moved back and forth between the ivory tower and city government. Soares has served as Professor of Anthropology at the State University of Rio de Janeiro and was the National Secretary of Public Security under the mandate of Lula’s presidency in Brazil. Soares’s chapter starts with the appalling statistic that between 1980 and 2010 over one million Brazilians were murdered. It is in the face of such data that

in Urban transformations and public health in the emergent city
‘Evil deaths’ and the difficulty of mourning in Brazil in the time of COVID-19
Carmen Rial

Based on the anthropological classification of death into ‘good deaths’, ‘beautiful deaths’ and ‘evil deaths’, and using the methodology of screen ethnography, this article focuses on mourning in Brazil during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the extreme cases of deaths in Manaus and among the Yanomami people. The article ‘follows the virus’, from its first role in a death in the country, that of a domestic worker, to hurriedly dug mass graveyards. I consider how the treatment of bodies in the epidemiological context sheds light on the meanings of separation by death when mourning rituals are not performed according to prevailing cultural imperatives. Parallels are drawn with other moments of sudden deaths and the absence of bodies, as during the South American dictatorships, when many victims were declared ‘missing’. To conclude, the article focuses on new funerary rituals, such as Zoom funerals and online support groups, created to overcome the impossibility of mourning as had been practised in the pre-pandemic world.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
Pandemic and management of dead bodies in Brazil
Liliana Sanjurjo, Desirée Azevedo, and Larissa Nadai

This article analyses the management of bodies in Brazil within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its objective is to examine how the confluence of underreporting, inequality and alterations in the forms of classifying and managing bodies has produced a political practice that aims at the mass infection of the living and the quick disposal of the dead. We first present the factors involved in the process of underreporting of the disease and its effects on state registration and regulation of bodies. Our analysis then turns to the cemetery to problematise the dynamics through which inequality and racism are re-actualised and become central aspects of the management of the pandemic in Brazil. We will focus not only on the policies of managing bodies adopted during the pandemic but also on those associated with other historical periods, examining continuities and ruptures, as well as their relationship to long-term processes.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Olivia Umurerwa Rutazibwa

Introduction All over the globe, fascism, racism and xenophobic nationalism are resurfacing in what we once thought of as ‘respectable’ democracies. Following a particularly bleak weekend at the end of October 2018 (the election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, reports of worsening famine in Yemen, Israeli bombardment of Gaza and the murder of eleven worshippers at a refugee-harbouring synagogue in Pittsburgh), my colleague Dr Sara Salem of the London School of Economics tweeted: ‘It’s difficult watching political scientists scrambling to

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs