Fabien Provost

In contemporary forensic medicine, in India, the label of complete autopsy applies to a whole range of post-mortem examinations which can present consid- erable differences in view of the intellectual resources, time, personnel and material means they involve. From various sources available in India and elsewhere, stems the idea that, whatever the type of case and its apparent obviousness, a complete autopsy implies opening the abdomen, the thorax and the skull and dissecting the organs they contain. Since the nineteenth century, procedural approaches of complete autopsies have competed with a practical sense of completeness which requires doctors to think their cases according to their history. Relying on two case studies observed in the frame of an ethnographic study of eleven months in medical colleges of North India, the article suggests that the practical completeness of autopsies is attained when all aspects of the history of the case are made sense of with regard to the observation of the body. Whereas certain autopsies are considered obvious and imply a reduced amount of time in the autopsy room, certain others imply successive redefinitions of what complete implies and the realisation of certain actions which would not have been performed otherwise.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Suhad Daher-Nashif

This article aims to shed light on the post-mortem practices for Palestinian dead bodies when there is suspicion of human rights violations by Israeli military forces. By focusing on the case of Omran Abu Hamdieh from Al-Khalil (Hebron), the article explores the interactions between Palestinian social-institutional agents, Israeli military forces and international medico-legal agents. Drawing on ethnographic and archival data, the article explores how the intersectionality between the various controlling powers is inscribed over the Palestinian dead bodies and structures their death rites. The article claims that inviting foreign medico-legal experts in the Palestinian context could reveal the true death story and the human rights violations, but also reaffirms the sovereignty of the Israeli military forces over the Palestinian dead and lived bodies.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Antonius C. G. M. Robben

Thousands of people died in Rotterdam during the Second World War in more than 300 German and Allied bombardments. Civil defence measures had been taken before the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940 and these efforts were intensified during the country’s occupation as Allied bombers attacked Rotterdam’s port, factories, dry docks and oil terminals. Residential neighbourhoods were also hit through imprecise targeting and by misfired flak grenades. Inadequate air raid shelters and people’s reluctance to enter them caused many casualties. The condition of the corpses and their post-mortem treatment was thus co-constituted by the relationship between the victims and their material circumstances. This article concludes that an understanding of the treatment of the dead after war, genocide and mass violence must pay systematic attention to the materiality of death because the condition, collection and handling of human remains is affected by the material means that impacted on the victims.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Yann LeGall

Debates on the relevance of repatriation of indigenous human remains are water under the bridge today. Yet, a genuine will for dialogue to work through colonial violence is found lacking in the European public sphere. Looking at local remembrance of the Majimaji War (1905–7) in the south of Tanzania and a German–Tanzanian theatre production, it seems that the spectre of colonial headhunting stands at the heart of claims for repatriation and acknowledgement of this anti-colonial movement. The missing head of Ngoni leader Songea Mbano haunts the future of German–Tanzanian relations in heritage and culture. By staging the act of post-mortem dismemberment and foregrounding the perspective of descendants, the theatre production Maji Maji Flava offers an honest proposal for dealing with stories of sheer colonial violence in transnational memory.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Claudia Merli and Trudi Buck

This article considers the contexts and processes of forensic identification in 2004 post-tsunami Thailand as examples of identity politics. The presence of international forensic teams as carriers of diverse technical expertise overlapped with bureaucratic procedures put in place by the Thai government. The negotiation of unified forensic protocols and the production of estimates of identified nationals straddle biopolitics and thanatocracy. The immense identification task testified on the one hand to an effort to bring individual bodies back to mourning families and national soils, and on the other hand to determining collective ethnic and national bodies, making sense out of an inexorable and disordered dissolution of corporeal as well as political boundaries. Individual and national identities were the subject of competing efforts to bring order to,the chaos, reaffirming the cogency of the body politic by mapping national boundaries abroad. The overwhelming forensic effort required by the exceptional circumstances also brought forward the socio-economic and ethnic disparities of the victims, whose post-mortem treatment and identification traced an indelible divide between us and them.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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.

Open Access (free)
Melanie Giles

accoutrements might have travelled. Casting the net of bog bodies wider to include skeletonised remains from places such as Sweden has allowed specialists to examine aspects of welfare and disease, which sheds a rather different light on those who ended up in the bog. Non-invasive computed tomography (CT) scanning can refine the litany of ante- and peri-mortem trauma, while forensic knowledge has enabled us to both observe subtle injuries we once missed and to write off some of the apparent ‘overkill’ we see as the result of compression in the bog or post-mortem damage during

in Bog bodies
The disposal of bodies in the 1994 Rwandan genocide
Nigel Eltringham

8 Display, concealment and ‘culture’: the disposal of bodies in the 1994 Rwandan genocide Nigel Eltringham Introduction In their ethnography of violent conflict, ‘cultures of terror’ 1 and genocide, anthropologists have recognized that violence is discursive. The victim’s body is a key vehicle of that discourse. In contexts of inter-ethnic violence, for example, ante-mortem degradation and/or post-mortem mutilation are employed to transform the victim’s body into a representative example of the ethnic category, the manipulation of the body enabling the

in Human remains and mass violence
Open Access (free)
Manchester’s bog head
Melanie Giles

else would have known where to look and no official paper archive accompanied the head on its next stage of investigation. The afterlife of Worsley Man: historiography of conservation and analysis The remains were given back into the possession of Dr Manning, who donated them to the Pathology Museum at the Manchester Medical School ‘where they were mounted and placed in a Perspex box’ (Garland 1995 : 104). At some point, the post-mortem damage to the skull (partly from peat compression and partly from the mode of recovery followed by forensic examination) took

in Bog bodies
Open Access (free)
The bodyand counter-revolutionary warfare inapartheid South Africa
Nicky Rousseau

bodies resulting from counter-revolutionary warfare were recorded among the extraordinarily high number of ‘Unknown black males’ recorded in death registers across South Africa, re­flect­ ing the historical legacies of migrant labour, which resulted in high numbers of unidentified and unclaimed bodies; sometimes they were distinguished from the rest by the appellation terroris.35 Criminal investigations in South Africa do not require forensic pathologists to examine the crime scene. With no state pathologists outside of the main urban areas, post-mortems were conducted

in Destruction and human remains