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.
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.
I focus on two contemporary art installations in which Teresa Margolles employs
water used to wash corpses during autopsies. By running this water through a fog
machine or through air conditioners, these works incorporate bodily matter but
refuse to depict, identify or locate anybody (or any body) within it. Rather,
Margolles creates abstract works in which physical limits – whether of bodies or
of art works – dissolve into a state of indeterminacy. With that pervasive
distribution of corporeal matter, Margolles charts the dissolution of the
social, political and spatial borders that contain death from the public sphere.
In discussing these works, I consider Margolles’ practice in relation to the
social and aesthetic function of the morgue. Specifically, I consider how
Margolles turns the morgue inside out, opening it upon the city in order to
explore the inoperative distinctions between spaces of sociality and those of
death. In turn, I consider how Margolles places viewers in uneasy proximity to
mortality, bodily abjection and violence in order to illustrate the social,
political and aesthetic conditions by which bodies become unidentifiable. I
ultimately argue that her aesthetic strategies match her ethical aspirations to
reconsider relations to death, violence and loss within the social realm.
Towards atypology of the treatment of corpses of ‘disappeared detainees’ in Argentinafrom 1975 to 1983
on the relevant documents. The perpetrators had to put a lot of
effort into ensuring that this was achieved. Their desire for denial
was absurd, as the terrible autopsy descriptions contained in the
sources demonstrate. However, combinations of different forensic,
police, and judicial proceedings were set in train, as though this
glut of procedures would hide the truth forever. Among one of
many possible examples is the kidnapping, torture, and murder of
Eduardo Ruibal. In his case, the way in which different military and
judicial authorities (the army
Examined by the pathologist to compile autopsy reports that might
then be used in evidence, should the case ever come to trial, the
The unburied victims of the Mau Mau Rebellion 23
police necessarily and legally retained these remains pending future
prosecutions. However, the police would normally only hold a small
number of such bodies at a time –before the State of Emergency
the Kenya Police dealt with only around thirty murders each year,
and they would expect to process such cases and then hand over
the bodies to their families for burial relatively speedily
Forensic and archaeological approaches to locating the remains of Holocaust victims
Caroline Sturdy Colls
‘An autopsy of the grave: recognizing, collecting and preserving forensic
geotaphonomic evidence’, in W. Haglund and M. Sorg (eds), Advances
192 Human remains in society
in Forensic Taphonomy: Method, Theory and Archaeological Perspectives
(Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2002), pp. 45–70.
56 Hunter et al., Forensic Approaches to Buried Remains.
57 Sturdy Colls, Holocaust Archaeologies, ch. 6.
58 P. Drewett, Field Archaeology: An Introduction (London: Routledge, 2011).
59 Hunter et al., Forensic Approaches to Buried Remains.
60 B. Bevan and T. Smekalova
deliberating mature subjects. We find many of these characteristics
repeated in Trainspotting. The mean streets of Leith (the working-class
port in which Welsh sets his autopsy of contemporary Scottish life) are a
long way from the romantic ‘Highlands and Islands’ of the chronotopic
imagination.3 But they are also some way removed from traditional urban
representations of Scotland – invariably set in Glasgow, centred around
traditional heavy industries such as shipbuilding and mining, and engaged
with received, and supposedly ‘universal’, discourses of gender, class and
sceptical line on EMU’, The Times, 24 October
26 P. Webster, ‘Hague warns Heseltine to keep clear’, The Times, 31 October 1997.
27 Ian Taylor MP, resignation letter, 29 October 1997.
28 ‘Ancram defends consulting party members’, Conservative Party press release, 26
29 Quoted in G. Jones, ‘Hague wins 84 per cent vote on the euro’, Daily Telegraph, 6
30 Hague, speech to London and Southern Region.
31 Quoted in the Esher News and Mail, 22 November 1999.
32 See P. Oborne, ‘An accurate autopsy’, The Spectator, 3 November 2001.
displays in autopsies of poliomyelitis victims. For simplicity, the disease will henceforth be called “polio” in this chapter, unless in a direct quotation from the source material. See John Rodman Paul, A History of Poliomyelitis (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1971), p. 8; Hamborsky, Kroger and Wolfe (eds), Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases , p. 297.
8 J. N. Hays, Epidemics and Pandemics: Their Impact on Human History (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2005), p. 414.
9 Rogers, Polio Wars
Missing persons and colonial skeletons in South Africa
living and the dead body, Crossland’s
work points to finer distinctions, which may operate to draw a line
between the dissected and the autopsied body. These are suggestive
of different ontologies at work,49 but also of a certain instability of
meaning associated with the dead body (or its remains), which is
subject both to continuity and difference.
In several respects, then, the developments associated with the
long dead served to interrupt the promise of closure suggested by
the TRC and exemplified in the physical acts of exhumation and
reburial. By calling