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Re-individualising human remains from Namibia

Colonialism, grave robbery and intellectual history

Larissa Förster, Dag Henrichsen, Holger Stoecker and Hans Axasi╪Eichab

In 1885, the Berlin pathologist Rudolf Virchow presented three human skeletons from the colony of German South West Africa to the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory. The remains had been looted from a grave by a young German scientist, Waldemar Belck, who was a member of the second Lüderitz expedition and took part in the occupation of colonial territory. In an attempt to re-individualise and re-humanise these human remains, which were anonymised in the course of their appropriation by Western science, the authors consult not only the colonial archive, but also contemporary oral history in Namibia. This allows for a detailed reconstruction of the social and political contexts of the deaths of the three men, named Jacobus Hendrick, Jacobus !Garisib and Oantab, and of Belck’s grave robbery, for an analysis of how the remains were turned into scientific objects by German science and institutions, as well as for an establishment of topographical and genealogical links with the Namibian present. Based on these findings, claims for the restitution of African human remains from German institutions cannot any longer be regarded as a contemporary phenomenon only but must be understood as part of an African tradition of resistance against Western colonial and scientific practices.

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(Re)politicising the dead in post-Holocaust Poland

The afterlives of human remains at the Bełzec extermination camp

Series:

Zuzanna Dziuban

precise and often detailed answers, dispelling any doubts as to the responsibility of the local Polish residents for the devastation of the former camp’s terrain. A rather vague but also extremely inclusive 43 (Re)politicising the dead in post-Holocaust Poland   43 term, ‘local people’, repeatedly appeared in their statements. The grave-​robbery, which began immediately after the Nazis in authority left Bełzec in early July 1943, following the disposal of the bodies and dismantling of the camp,19 could thus be depicted as a ‘community enterprise’.20 For, even though

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Bykivnia

How grave robbers, activists, and foreigners ended official silence about Stalin’s mass graves near Kiev

Series:

Karel C. Berkhoff

which they belonged was immediately dispersed, and some of its members were arrested or fired from their jobs. Taniuk felt compelled to move to Odessa, where the KGB confiscated many documents from him, and then to Moscow. He returned from this exile only in 1986. Symonenko was viciously beaten in the street and died from his wounds. Horska became engaged in ‘dissident’ work and in 1970 was murdered, officially by her father-in-law.29 It is easy to find assertions that after the war, grave robbery at Bykivnia took decades to start.30 But that seems unlikely if looting

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Heather Shore

, cunningly Convert to their own Use the Labour Of their good-natur’d heedless Neighbour: These were called Knaves; but, bar the Name, The grave Industrious were the Same.19 Likewise Henry Fielding was well aware of the ironies that the criminal justice system brought to his court, commenting on the case of: several Wretches who had been apprehended the Night before by Mr. Welch, were brought before Mr. Fielding and Mr. Errington; when one who was in a dreadful Condition, being all over covered with the Itch, was recommended to the Care of the Overseers; another who

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Lands of Unkultur

Mass violence, corpses, and the Nazi imagination of the East

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Michael McConnell

activities were described in dramatic emotional terms; attacks were raids (Überfallen), cast at best as annoyances (Unwesen), or at worst as murder and robbery (Mord und Raub). The partisans were described as criminals; they allegedly plundered villages and towns and were described as bandits (Banden) or sometimes as a plague (Pest) haunt­ing the land. Keeping in tandem with such quasi-biological language, locations deemed under their control were described as Bandenverseuchtegebiete, literally ‘areas infested with bandits’, conjuring the image of a dangerous and spreading

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Series:

Alexander Korb

themselves work with the corpses, they simply left the bodies at the location of the massacre and relied on the families or the gendarmerie (the local – though nationally networked – police force) to bury them.5 Since this did not always occur, fields of stinking corpses were created that polluted the surrounding areas and attracted wild animals.6 Often the bodies HRMV.indb 108 01/09/2014 17:28:38 An ethnicized civil war: Croatia  109 were simply disposed of in nearby rivers.7 However, in some cases, the perpetrators hastily buried the dead in mass graves that had been

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Tony Fitzpatrick

transformation (Fitzpatrick, 1998a). The principle of social insurance came to embody the commonality of fate by having both a spatial dimension (universality) and a temporal dimension (cradle to grave) and so was oriented both to the past, in the form of work-based contributions, and to a knowable, predictable future. Social insurance was therefore suited to an age of working-class ascendancy (the commonality of fate) and to a widespread acceptance of the desirability and feasibility of planning (temporal continuity). A naive acceptance of free market globalisation (see

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Racing culture

The racecourse and racecourse life

Series:

Mike Huggins

for them, and then complaining to him when their horse lost, ‘It’s robbery!’ and ‘It’s lucky I didn’t give you my sovereign that you’ve lost’.50 Traditional expectations held that women should know little about racing and horses so that their more informed menfolk would place bets on their behalf. Pre-1914, few self-respecting women entered betting enclosures, with their noise, pushing and commotion. But after the war some women began accompanying their escorts, and in 1925 the Daily Sketch thought it sufficiently noteworthy to provide a large ‘shock

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Maureen Mulholland

, and especially for failing to be in frankpledge and for breaking the assizes of bread and ale. The leet’s punishments were often harsh, typically including stocks, pillory, tumbrel (exposure to ridicule and shame by being made to ride round in a dung cart), and, on some manors, imprisonment, but it could not take life nor could it mutilate unless the lord’s grant included infangthief, outfangthief and gallows.57 By the fourteenth century its powers had been limited by legislation, removing to the royal justices cases of burglary, robbery, theft, counterfeiting

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John Marriott

book reverberated with familiar concerns about the condition of the metropolitan poor. Mendicancy, alcohol, Sabbath breaking, gambling and robbery, he argued, were endemic witnesses to the moral destitution of the poor, in the face of which the church had proved ineffective. The attendant demand for new initiatives was a clarion call to evangelicals. London’s ‘mass of