Methodological approaches

Mass violence is one of the defining phenomena of the twentieth century, which some have even called the 'century of genocides'. The study of how the dead body is treated can lead us to an understanding of the impact of mass violence on contemporary societies. Corpses of mass violence and genocide, especially when viewed from a biopolitical perspective, force one to focus on the structures of the relations between all that participates in the enfolding case study. Argentina is an extraordinary laboratory in the domain of struggle against impunity and of 'restoration of the truth'. It constitutes a useful paradigm in the context of reflection on the corpses of mass violence. Its special character, in the immediate aftermath of the military dictatorship, is to test almost the entirety of juridical mechanisms in the handling of state crimes. The trigger for both the intercommunal violence and the civil war was the mass murders by the Ustaša. This book discusses the massacres carried out by the Ustaša in Croatia during the Second World War. After a brief presentation of the historical background, the massacres carried out by the Ustaša militia and their corpse disposal methods are described. Using Rwanda as a case study, the book proposes an agenda for ethnographic research to explore the relationship between concealment and display in contexts of genocide. This relationship is explored in detail after a discussion of the historical background to the 1994 genocide.

1 The biopolitics of corpses of mass violence and genocide Yehonatan Alsheh Introduction For the past four decades, students of biopolitics have been probing why the spectacular growth in the application of technologies and policies that aim at the optimization of human life has been articu­lated with a parallel proliferation of human death. Various studies have been suggesting many objects or sites that are arguably highly symptomatic of the issue at hand – a privileged epitome of the biopolitical quandary. The most famous of these is the camp that Giorgio

in Human remains and mass violence
Integrative concepts for a criminology of mass violence

4 Moral discourse and action in relation to the corpse: integrative concepts for a criminology of mass violence Jon Shute Introduction: the moral–emotional ‘work’ of serious crime in peacetime and in conflict In stable, late-modern societies, crimes are adjudicated breaches of morality formally defined in law. They are variable in content across place and time, and do not always have a readily identifiable victim or definitions that have the informal moral support of the population; however, many of the most serious offences against the person and property

in Human remains and mass violence
Open Access (free)
Corpses and mass violence: an inventory of the unthinkable

Introduction. Corpses and mass violence: an inventory of the unthinkable Élisabeth Anstett & Jean-Marc Dreyfus Mass violence is one of the defining phenomena of the twentieth century, which some have even called the ‘century of genocides’.1 Scarred by the Armenian genocide, the Holodomor in Ukraine, the Spanish Civil War, the Holocaust, the gulags and, more recently, the crimes against humanity committed in Bosnia, Europe alone offers a range of examples of such extreme events.2 These outbreaks of mass violence particularly affected civilians, unlike most

in Human remains and mass violence

.3 Yet, up until very recently, the treatment of the bodies resulting from mass violence – or, for that matter, this extreme violence itself – has received little attention from anthropologists.4 HRMV.indb 181 01/09/2014 17:28:43 182  Élisabeth Anstett However, a shift began with the large-scale exhumations under­ taken in Bosnia and Spain, which shed new light on the fate of bodies in such situations and led anthropologists to consider the agendas underpinning a set of practices which, in a real sense, link the killers to their victims even after the death of

in Human remains and mass violence
Open Access (free)
Victim, witness and evidence of mass violence

3 The human body: victim, witness and evidence of mass violence1 Caroline Fournet Introduction In the context of international criminal law and case law, the fact that the individual, as a human being, is the target of criminals against humanity and génocidaires alike is a legal reality that raises no doubt or controversy.2 The definition of a crime against humanity protects ‘any civilian population’,3 while that of genocide refers to the victim ‘group’.4 Further, both definitions protect the physical and moral integrity of the individual – although the text of

in Human remains and mass violence
The status of bodies in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge genocide

7 From bones-as-evidence to tutelary spirits: the status of bodies in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge genocide Anne Yvonne Guillou Introduction ‘What is a body?’ The question asked by Stéphane Breton is one that haunts those anthropologists who have to deal with any aspect of the materiality of flesh and of its corruption.1 On the one hand there is its materiality, through which the marks of mass violence such as that of the Khmer Rouge genocide can be read,2 while on the other there is its corruption, the slow process accompanying the change in the religious

in Human remains and mass violence
Open Access (free)
The French search mission for the corpses of deportees in Germany, 1946–58

6 Renationalizing bodies? The French search mission for the corpses of deportees in Germany, 1946–58 1 Jean-Marc Dreyfus Introduction Corpses are not a research subject that a historian would normally choose, and less still corpses en masse. Whether approaches to mass violence are of political, social or cultural history, the ­historical analysis of societies tends to focus on the living, and corpses are discussed only in terms of a social group’s structure in relation to death, the social definition of which can be addressed only through a detailed cultural

in Human remains and mass violence
Embodying the disappeared of the Argentinian dictatorship through law

their parents, as discussed in the last section of the chapter). If the disappearance is, initially, a challenge to the law, the law thus becomes, in turn, a challenge to the disappearance. Right to the truth and reconstruction of the fate of the disappeared Argentina is an extraordinary laboratory in the domain of struggle against impunity and of ‘restoration of the truth’, and constitutes a useful paradigm in the context of reflection on the corpses of HRMV.indb 46 01/09/2014 17:28:35 The disappeared of the Argentinian dictatorship  47 mass violence. Its special

in Human remains and mass violence
The disposal of bodies in the 1994 Rwandan genocide

a ‘meaningful cultural expression’ rather than ‘the absence of and destruction of all cultural and social order’.45 Mass violence, therefore, displays ‘macabre forms of cultural design and violent predictability’.46 This suggests that, in approaching episodes of genocide or mass violence, we must attend to the ‘“poetics” of violent practice’, those context-specific dimensions of violence that are ‘used discursively to amplify the cultural force of violent acts’.47 The key vehicle for the articulation of this discourse is the body. Difference is manufactured

in Human remains and mass violence