In this article we explore the relational materiality of fragments of human
cadavers used to produce DNA profiles of the unidentified dead at a forensic
genetics police laboratory in Rio de Janeiro. Our point of departure is an
apparently simple problem: how to discard already tested materials in order to
open up physical space for incoming tissue samples. However, during our study we
found that transforming human tissues and bone fragments into disposable trash
requires a tremendous institutional investment of energy, involving negotiations
with public health authorities, criminal courts and public burial grounds. The
dilemma confronted by the forensic genetic lab suggests not only how some
fragments are endowed with more personhood than others, but also how the very
distinction between human remains and trash depends on a patchwork of multiple
logics that does not necessarily perform according to well-established or
that was characterised by winner-take-all outcomes.
What is a trial?
60 In each case the Apology purports, rather, to recount Socrates’ speech in his own
defence. Of course, the extent to which these works provide accurate summaries of
the trials of Jesus and Socrates, free of the interpretations of their followers, has
long been controversial.
61 Jeremy Bentham, ‘Rationale of judicialevidence, specially applied to English practice’, in J. Bowring (ed.), The Works of Jeremy Bentham (11 vols, Edinburgh, 1843),
vi, p. 355.
62 Jeremy Bentham, ‘Draught of a code