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.
This book looks at the theoretical issue of how a democracy can defend itself from those wishing to subvert or destroy it without being required to take measures that would impinge upon the basic principles of the democratic idea. It links social and institutional perspectives to the study, and includes a case study of the Israeli response to Jewish extremism and violence, which tests the theoretical framework outlined in the first chapter. There is an extensive diachronic scrutiny of the state's response to extremist political parties, violent organizations and the infrastructure of extremism and intolerance within Israeli society. The book emphasises the dynamics of the response and the factors that encourage or discourage the shift from less democratic and more democratic models of response.
The biopolitics of corpses of mass
violence and genocide
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
Atrocities that befell Ethiopia during the Dergue regime (1974–91) targeted both
the living and the dead. The dead were in fact at the centre of the Dergue’s
violence. Not only did the regime violate the corpses of its victims, but it
used them as a means to perpetrate violence against the living, the complexity
of which requires a critical investigation. This article aims at establishing,
from the study of Ethiopian law and practice, the factual and legal issues
pertinent to the Dergue’s violence involving the dead. It also examines the
efforts made to establish the truth about this particular form of violence as
well as the manner in which those responsible for it were prosecuted and
Since the early 1990s, armed actors have invaded territories in the Chocó and Antioquia
departments of Colombia, inhabited by Afro-Colombians and Indians whose collective rights
in these territories had recently been legally recognised. Based on long-term fieldwork
among the Emberá Katío, this article examines social, cosmological and ritual alterations
and re-organisation around violent death. Following a national policy of post-conflict
reparations, public exhumations and identifications of human remains reveal new local
modes of understanding and administration. In particular, suicide, hitherto completely
unknown to the Emberá, broke out in a multitude of cases, mostly among the youth. Local
discourse attributes this phenomenon to the number of stray corpses resulting from the
violence, who are transformed into murderous spirits which shamans can no longer control.
The analysis focusses on the unprecedented articulation of a renewed eschatology, the
intricate effects of an internal political reorganisation and the simultaneous inroad into
their space of new forms of armed insurrectional violence. Thus the article will shed
light on the emergence of a new transitional moral economy of death among the Emberá.
In discussions of conflict, war and political violence, dead bodies count. Although the
politics and practices associated with the collection of violent-death data are seldom
subject to critical examination, they are crucial to how scholars and practitioners think
about how and why conflict and violence erupt. Knowledge about conflict deaths – the who,
what, where, when, why and how – is a form of expertise, created, disseminated and used by
different agents. This article highlights the ways in which body counts are deployed as
social facts and forms of knowledge that are used to shape and influence policies and
practices associated with armed conflict. It traces the way in which conflict-death data
emerged, and then examines critically some of the practices and assumptions of data
collection to shed light on how claims to expertise are enacted and on how the public
arena connects (or not) with scholarly conflict expertise.
Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal is a biannual,
peer-reviewed publication which draws together the different strands of academic
research on the dead body and the production of human remains en masse, whether
in the context of mass violence, genocidal occurrences or environmental
disasters. Inherently interdisciplinary, the journal publishes papers from a
range of academic disciplines within the humanities, social sciences and natural
sciences. Human Remains and Violence invites contributions from scholars working
in a variety of fields and interdisciplinary research is especially welcome.
Intervention in markets of violence
backbone of a state, the monopoly of violence.
The society loses its cohesion. Behind smokescreens of ethnic, political,
religious or other ideological goals appears a new – mainly economic –
reference for social action: acquisition based upon violence. Markets of violence
are highly proﬁtable social systems, which can remain stable over several decades.
The dominant actors in this system, the warlords, combine violent appropriation
with peaceful exchange.
Markets of violence
Between 1975 and 1979, thirty-one unidentified bodies bearing marks of torture appeared
at various locations along Uruguays coastline. These bodies were material proof of the
death flights implemented in neighbouring Argentina after the military coup. In Uruguay,
in a general context of political crisis, the appearance of these anonymous cadavers first
generated local terror and was then rapidly transformed into a traumatic event at the
national level. This article focuses on the various reports established by Uruguayan
police and mortuary services. It aims to show how,the administrative and funeral
treatments given at that time to the dead bodies, buried anonymously (under the NN label)
in local cemeteries, make visible some of the multiple complicities between the Uruguayan
and Argentinean dictatorships in the broader framework of the Condor Plan. The repressive
strategy implemented in Argentina through torture and forced disappearance was indeed
echoed by the bureaucratic repressive strategy implemented in Uruguay through incomplete
and false reports, aiming to make the NN disappear once again.
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.