This article sets forth a theoretical framework that first argues that
necropolitical power and sovereignty should be understood as existing on a
spectrum that ultimately produces the phenomenon of surplus
death – such as pandemic deaths or those disappeared by the state. We
then expound this framework by juxtaposing the necropolitical negligence of the
COVID-19 pandemic with the violence of forced disappearances to argue that the
surplus dead have the unique capacity to create political change and reckonings,
due to their embodied power and agency. Victims of political killings and
disappearance may not seem to have much in common with victims of disease, yet
focusing on the mistreatment of the dead in both instances reveals uncanny
patterns and similarities. We demonstrate that this overlap, which aligns in key
ways that are particularly open to use by social actors, provides an entry to
comprehend the agency of the dead to incite political reckonings with the
violence of state action and inaction.
Burying the victims of Europe’s border in a Tunisian coastal
The Mediterranean Sea has recently become the deadliest of borders for
illegalised travellers. The victims of the European Union’s liquid border
are also found near North African shores. The question of how and where to bury
these unknown persons has recently come to the fore in Zarzis, a coastal town in
south-east Tunisia. Everyone involved in these burials – the coastguards,
doctors, Red Crescent volunteers, municipality employees – agree that
what they are doing is ‘wrong’. It is neither dignified nor
respectful to the dead, as the land used as a cemetery is an old waste dump, and
customary attitudes towards the dead are difficult to realise. This article will
first trace how this situation developed, despite the psychological discomfort
of all those affected. It will then explore how the work of care and dignity
emerges within this institutional chain, and what this may tell us about what
constitutes the concept of the human.
Destruction and human remains investigates a crucial question frequently neglected from academic debate in the fields of mass violence and Genocide Studies: what is done to the bodies of the victims after they are killed? Indeed, in the context of mass violence and genocide, death does not constitute the end of the executors' work. Following the abuses carried out by the latter, their victims' remains are treated and manipulated in very particular ways, amounting in some cases to social engineering. The book explores this phase of destruction, whether by disposal, concealment or complete annihilation of the body, across a range of extreme situations to display the intentions and socio-political framework of governments, perpetrators and bystanders. The book will be split into three sections; 1) Who were the perpetrators and why were they chosen? It will be explored whether a division of labour created social hierarchies or criminal careers, or whether in some cases this division existed at all. 2) How did the perpetrators kill and dispose of the bodies? What techniques and technologies were employed, and how does this differ between contrasting and evolving circumstances? 3) Why did the perpetrators implement such methods and what does this say about their motivations and ideologies? The book will focus in particular on the twentieth century, displaying innovative and interdisciplinary approaches and dealing with case studies from different geographical areas across the globe. The focus will be placed on a re-evaluation of the motivations, the ideological frameworks and the technical processes displayed in the destruction of bodies.
This book addresses the practices, treatment and commemoration of victims’ remains in post- genocide and mass violence contexts. Whether reburied, concealed, stored, abandoned or publically displayed, human remains raise a vast number of questions regarding their legal, ethical and social uses. Human Remains in Society will raise these issues by examining when, how and why bodies are hidden or exhibited. Using case studies from multiple continents, each chapter will interrogate their effect on human remains, either desired or unintended, on various political, cultural or religious practices. How, for instance, do issues of confiscation, concealment or the destruction of bodies and body parts in mass crime impact on transitional processes, commemoration or judicial procedures?
theory (‘between bio- and necropolitics’), the structuralist-functionalist anthropology of burial rituals (‘rites of separation and the sacralisation of authority’) and recent ideas of agency
and materiality (‘dead agency’). Despite their differences, the various
approaches point towards an excess of meaning and affect relating
to dead bodies and human remains, something that evokes the mystical, the sacred, the liminal and the transgressive, which, in the end,
The following nine chapters are organised in two parts. The first,
and creative interconnections or ‘friction’ that emerged in particular places, suggesting that the universal might be better understood as a series of ‘sticky engagements’ (Tsing 2005 : 1–6). The idea that it might be possible to comment upon global issues from the messy, immersive and sticky depths of an ethnographic study is something that has always been important to me. I have also been influenced by Achille Mbembe when he explained, in the first chapter of Necropolitics , that he wrote ‘from Africa, where I live and work (but also from the rest of the world
as well as other political
and moral communities.
This chapter sets out the theoretical terrain that the authors of
the volume navigate in their analyses, a terrain where dead bodies
and sovereign practice intersect. More specifically it looks at four
different approaches, including psychoanalysis (‘fear of death’), critical theory (‘between bio- and necropolitics’), the anthropology of
rituals (‘sacralisation of authority’) and lastly more recent ideas of
materiality and alterity (‘dead agency’).
Fear of death
The point seems rather banal and commonsensical: the
Introduction. Corpses in society:
about human remains, necro-politics,
necro-economy and the legacy
of mass violence
Élisabeth Anstett and Jean-Marc Dreyfus
The visible presence of human remains within societies is not a
new phenomenon.1 Whether these remains have been placed on
view for religious reasons (through the creation of ossuaries or
the use of relics, for example), for the purposes of experimental
science (in particular through the use and preservation of human
tissues and skeletons by the disciplines of medicine, biology and
Given the significant similarities and differences between the welfare states of Northern Europe and their reactions to the perceived 'refugee crisis' of 2015, the book focuses primarily on the three main cases of Denmark, Sweden and Germany. Placed in a wider Northern European context – and illustrated by those chapters that also discuss refugee experiences in Norway and the UK – the Danish, Swedish and German cases are the largest case studies of this edited volume. Thus, the book contributes to debates on the governance of non-citizens and the meaning of displacement, mobility and seeking asylum by providing interdisciplinary analyses of a largely overlooked region of the world, with two specific aims. First, we scrutinize the construction of the 2015 crisis as a response to the large influx of refugees, paying particular attention to the disciplinary discourses and bureaucratic structures that are associated with it. Second, we investigate refugees’ encounters with these bureaucratic structures and consider how these encounters shape hopes for building a new life after displacement. This allows us to show that the mobility of specific segments of the world’s population continues to be seen as a threat and a risk that has to be governed and controlled. Focusing on the Northern European context, our volume interrogates emerging policies and discourses as well as the lived experiences of bureaucratization from the perspective of individuals who find themselves the very objects of bureaucracies.
This book is about science in theatre and performance. It explores how theatre and performance engage with emerging scientific themes from artificial intelligence to genetics and climate change. The book covers a wide range of performance forms from the spectacle of the Paralympics Opening Ceremony to Broadway musicals, from experimental contemporary performance and opera to educational theatre, Somali poetic drama and grime videos. It features work by pioneering companies including Gob Squad, Headlong Theatre and Theatre of Debate as well as offering fresh analysis of global blockbusters such as Wicked and Urinetown. The book offers detailed description and analysis of theatre and performance practices as well as broader commentary on the politics of theatre as public engagement with science. It documents important examples of collaborative practice with extended discussion of the Theatre of Debate process developed by Y Touring theatre company, exploration of bilingual theatre-making in East London and an account of how grime MCs and dermatologists ended up making a film together in Birmingham. The interdisciplinary approach draws on contemporary research in theatre and performance studies in combination with key ideas from science studies. It shows how theatre can offer important perspectives on what the philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers has called ‘cosmopolitics’. The book argues that theatre can flatten knowledge hierarchies and hold together different ways of knowing.