This article will investigate the process of confronting death in cases of the disappeared of the last military dictatorship in Argentina. Based on the exhumation and identification of the body of a disappeared person, the article will reflect on how the persons social situation can be reconfigured, causing structural changes within the family and other groups. This will be followed by a discussion of the reflections generated by the anthropologist during his or her interview process, as well as an investigation into the authors own experiences in the field. This intimate relationship between the anthropologist and death, through the inevitable contact that takes place among the bodies, causes resonances in the context both of exhumations and of identifications in the anthropologists wider fieldwork.
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.
In contemporary forensic medicine, in India, the label of complete autopsy applies to a whole range of post-mortem examinations which can present consid- erable differences in view of the intellectual resources, time, personnel and material means they involve. From various sources available in India and elsewhere, stems the idea that, whatever the type of case and its apparent obviousness, a complete autopsy implies opening the abdomen, the thorax and the skull and dissecting the organs they contain. Since the nineteenth century, procedural approaches of complete autopsies have competed with a practical sense of completeness which requires doctors to think their cases according to their history. Relying on two case studies observed in the frame of an ethnographic study of eleven months in medical colleges of North India, the article suggests that the practical completeness of autopsies is attained when all aspects of the history of the case are made sense of with regard to the observation of the body. Whereas certain autopsies are considered obvious and imply a reduced amount of time in the autopsy room, certain others imply successive redefinitions of what complete implies and the realisation of certain actions which would not have been performed otherwise.
Transnational dynamics in post-genocidal restitutions
Taking its starting point from a socio-anthropological study combining biographical interviews, semi-structured interviews and ethnographic observations collected between 2016 and 2018 in Germany, France and the United States among Ovaherero and Nama activists, and also members of different institutions and associations, this article focuses on the question of human remains in the current struggle for recognition and reparation of the genocide of the Ovaherero and Nama from a transnational perspective. First, the text shows the ways in which the memory of human remains can be considered as a driving force in the struggle of the affected communities. Second, it outlines the main points of mismatches of perspective between descendants of the survivors and the responsible museums during past restitutions of human remains from German anthropological collections. Third, the article more closely examines the resources of Ovaherero in the United States in the struggle for recognition and reparation, the recent discovery of Namibian human remains in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the questions that it raises.
Passion and politics in the English Defence League
‘Loud and proud’: Politics and passion in the English Defence League is a study of grassroots activism in what is widely considered to be a violent Islamophobic and racist organisation.
The book uses interviews, informal conversations and extended observation at EDL events to critically reflect on the gap between the movement’s public image and activists’ own understandings of it. It details how activists construct the EDL, and themselves, as ‘not racist, not violent, just no longer silent’ inter alia through the exclusion of Muslims as a possible object of racism on the grounds that they are a religiously not racially defined group. In contrast activists perceive themselves to be ‘second-class citizens’, disadvantaged and discriminated by a ‘two-tier’ justice system that privileges the rights of ‘others’. This failure to recognise themselves as a privileged white majority explains why ostensibly intimidating EDL street demonstrations marked by racist chanting and nationalistic flag waving are understood by activists as standing ‘loud and proud’; the only way of ‘being heard’ in a political system governed by a politics of silencing.
Unlike most studies of ‘far right’ movements, this book focuses not on the EDL as an organisation – its origins, ideology, strategic repertoire and effectiveness – but on the individuals who constitute the movement. Its ethnographic approach challenges stereotypes and allows insight into the emotional as well as political dimension of activism. At the same time, the book recognises and discusses the complex political and ethical issues of conducting close-up social research with ‘distasteful’ groups.
Paradoxes of hierarchy and authority in the squatters movement in Amsterdam
This book is an ethnographic study of the internal dynamics of a subcultural community that defines itself as a social movement. While the majority of scholarly studies on this movement focus on its official face, on its front stage, this book concerns itself with the ideological and practical paradoxes at work within the micro-social dynamics of the backstage, an area that has so far been neglected in social movement studies. The central question is how hierarchy and authority function in a social movement subculture that disavows such concepts. The squatters’ movement, which defines itself primarily as anti-hierarchical and anti-authoritarian, is profoundly structured by the unresolved and perpetual contradiction between both public disavowal and simultaneous maintenance of hierarchy and authority within the movement. This study analyzes how this contradiction is then reproduced in different micro-social interactions, examining the methods by which people negotiate minute details of their daily lives as squatter activists in the face of a funhouse mirror of ideological expectations reflecting values from within the squatter community, that, in turn, often refract mainstream, middle class norms.
The ethics and politics of research with the ‘far right’
audiences. The argument has three components. First, there is no methodological obstacle to such research; the experience of access, formation and management of relations with respondents in this study demonstrates that it is possible to develop the quality of relations necessary to do meaningful ethnographic research with distasteful groups. Second, to generate such relations does not require unacceptable epistemological (claiming an ‘objective’ position) or ethical (feigning sympathy) compromise. Respondents accept that research can be undertaken in the interests of
Entanglements and ambiguities
discipline was implicitly founded on broad disjunctions between Western societies grounded in history and reason, on the one hand, and non-Western cultures held in place by myth and ritual, on the other. 2 Such premises came to underlie particular protocols of salvage anthropology, also shoring up formative dispositions of the ethnographic enterprise. These procedures and orientations have been
Passion and politics
, socially, most pernicious? And does not such self-imposed constraint on what and how we research not weaken claims to the systematic creation and critique of knowledge (Gillan and Pickerill, 2012: 136)? This is not to dismiss the political implications of choosing to conduct an ethnographic study of a movement widely perceived to actively perpetuate racism. It is to take the position that there should be no areas of social life that are unfit for scientific study (Kirby and Corzine, 1981: 15) and to argue that such studies extend our, very limited, understanding of the
The disposal of bodies in the 1994 Rwandan genocide
8 Display, concealment and ‘culture’: the disposal of bodies in the 1994 Rwandan genocide Nigel Eltringham Introduction In their ethnography of violent conflict, ‘cultures of terror’ 1 and genocide, anthropologists have recognized that violence is discursive. The victim’s body is a key vehicle of that discourse. In contexts of inter-ethnic violence, for example, ante-mortem degradation and/or post-mortem mutilation are employed to transform the victim’s body into a representative example of the ethnic category, the manipulation of the body enabling the