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T.K. Ralebitso-Senior, T.J.U. Thompson and H.E. Carney

In the mid-1990s, the crime scene toolkit was revolutionised by the introduction of DNA-based analyses such as the polymerase chain reaction, low copy number DNA analysis, short-tandem repeat typing, pulse-field gel electrophoresis and variable number tandem repeat. Since then, methodological advances in other disciplines, especially molecular microbial ecology, can now be adapted for cutting-edge applications in forensic contexts. Despite several studies and discussions, there is, however, currently very little evidence of these techniques adoption at the contemporary crime scene. Consequently, this article discusses some of the popular omics and their current and potential exploitations in the forensic ecogenomics of body decomposition in a crime scene. Thus, together with published supportive findings and discourse, knowledge gaps are identified. These then justify the need for more comprehensive, directed, concerted and global research towards state-of-the-art microecophysiology method application and/or adaptation for subsequent successful exploitations in this additional context of microbial forensics.

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
Ernesto Schwartz-Marin and Arely Cruz-Santiago

The article will present the findings of ethnographic research into the Colombian and Mexican forensic systems, introducing the first citizen-led exhumation project made possible through the cooperation of scholars, forensic specialists and interested citizens in Mexico. The coupling evolution and mutual re-constitution of forensic science will be explored, including new forms of citizenship and nation building projects – all approached as lived experience – in two of Latin America‘s most complex contexts: organised crime and mass death.

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
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.

Challenges and technological solutions to the ­identification of individuals in mass grave scenarios in the modern context
Gillian Fowler and Tim Thompson

, traditional, and isolated villages such as are found in Guatemala, with little admixture between settlements, using mtDNA may not be the best option. Since then in Guatemala, a Short Tandem Repeat (STR) population allele frequency database was created from 451 Guatemalans.40 In the Balkans, where it was estimated that 40,000 people went missing, the first DNA-led strategy for identification was proposed and implemented by the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) Forensic Science Department.41 However, in all of these contexts, traditional techniques are still

in Human remains and identification
Open Access (free)
Élisabeth Anstett and Jean-Marc Dreyfus

The introduction outlines the book’s scope and addresses the central questions raised by the included chapters: when, how and why are bodies hidden or exhibited, and what is their effect, either desired or unintended, on various political, cultural or religious practices? With explicit reference to each chapter, a historic and disciplinary background will be presented, raising issues such as the increased application of forensic sciences on the discovered dead body, the emergence of debates surrounding necro-political strategies by states and political communities, and the economy and chain of custody over human remains resulting from historic and contemporary forms of violence.

in Human remains in society
José López Mazz

"Operation Carrot" was devised and executed by the Uruguayan military at the time of the country’s return to democracy, between 1983 and 1985. The objective of this secret operation was to exhume all the bodies of disappeared prisoners who had been murdered during the dictatorship, in order either to destroy them or make them disappear permanently.

This chapter discusses the tools and methodological processes that allow us to physically identify and then interpret these types of actions, which are often extremely hard to detect, given that they are part of an intentional and systematic attempt by the killers to conceal their past deeds.

However, we also seek to develop a better understanding of violence within Uruguayan social and political life: for, while the country’s dictatorship only lasted around ten years (between 1973 and 1984), political violence had already begun in the 1960s in the context of social conflicts surrounding land ownership, wages, and civil rights. It is, we argue, precisely because political violence is deeply rooted in Latin America that we must, in order to analyze it, adopt an integrated historical and anthropological approach which also draws on the more specialised disciplines of archaeology and forensic science.

in Human remains and identification
The forensic and political lives of secondary mass graves in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Admir Jugo and Sari Wastell

prisoners managed to survive by pretending to be dead.56 Kravica warehouse was examined by the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) at the request of the ICTY on 30 September 1996. NCIS uncovered evidence of bullet strikes both on the inside and the outside of the building, evidence of blood spatter, and explosive residue along with human blood, bone and tissue adhering to the walls and floors of the building.57 These samples Secondary mass graves in Bosnia and Herzegovina   155 were later examined by the Netherlands Forensic Science Laboratory, and proved to

in Human remains and identification
Open Access (free)
The politics of exhumation in post-genocide Rwanda
Rémi Korman

-ethnic war’. In anticipation of the work that the ICTR would have to carry out, a Special Investigation Unit (SIU) consisting of two teams was formed in 1994.16 The first would investigate sites of genocide while the second would deal with documentation and search for evidence. During a follow-up mission that lasted from 29 October to 7 November 1994, two forensic science experts provided by Spain studied various genocide sites. While no exhumations were performed owing to a lack of funds and the limited time available, bodies that had not been buried could nevertheless be

in Human remains and identification