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

in Human remains and mass violence

4 The concealment of bodies during the military dictatorship in Uruguay (1973–84)1 José López Mazz The political violence that occurred in Latin America during the second half of the twentieth century was deeply rooted in historic and prehistoric cultural traditions. To study it in a scientific way accordingly requires both the development of a specific set of cultural and historical methodologies and a leading role to be played by archaeological techniques and forensic anthropology. Our focus is in part on apprehending and understanding violent practices

in Human remains and identification
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.

Disposal and concealment in genocide and mass violence

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.

/09/2014 17:28:44 192  Élisabeth Anstett Practices of concealment and their effects The application of these practices of concealment to the evidence of the gulag in turn poses the anthropologist, as well as the historian and the legal specialist, with a set of questions that are essential to understanding the social effects of extreme violence. However, in order to pursue this line of investigation further, it is necessary to clarify certain key points. Firstly, as the case of the USSR clearly demonstrates, one of the principal social effects of the confiscation of bodies

in Human remains and mass violence
Open Access (free)
Curation and exhibition in the aftermath of genocide and mass-violence

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?

Mass violence, genocide, and the ‘forensic turn’

Human remains and identification presents a pioneering investigation into the practices and methodologies used in the search for and exhumation of dead bodies resulting from mass violence. Previously absent from forensic debate, social scientists and historians here confront historical and contemporary exhumations with the application of social context to create an innovative and interdisciplinary dialogue, enlightening the political, social and legal aspects of mass crime and its aftermaths. Through a ground-breaking selection of international case studies, Human remains and identification argues that the emergence of new technologies to facilitate the identification of dead bodies has led to a “forensic turn”, normalising exhumations as a method of dealing with human remains en masse. However, are these exhumations always made for legitimate reasons? Multidisciplinary in scope, the book will appeal to readers interested in understanding this crucial phase of mass violence’s aftermath, including researchers in history, anthropology, sociology, forensic science, law, politics and modern warfare.

Open Access (free)
A war of extermination, grave looting, and culture wars in the American West

.-M. Dreyfus (eds), Destruction and Human Remains: Disposal and Concealment in Genocide and Mass Violence (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014), pp. 226–42. T. Bender, A Nation among Nations: America’s Place in World History (New York: Hill and Wang, 2006), p. 21. See for example B. Kiernan, Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007); and J. Rawls, Indians of California: The Changing Image (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1984). J. W. Caughey, California (New York: Prentice

in Human remains and identification
Open Access (free)

formal institutional rules and regulations (such as official secrecy legislation or gagging clauses), or it can be obtained informally through unofficial concealment, taboos and socialisation (such as codes of silence, or agreed and shared needs for secrecy). The clash between openness and secrecy equates, rather too simply, to that between good and bad, and democratic and undemocratic. There has been a growing view in democracies across the world that secrecy, or too much concealment, is ‘incompatible with democracy’, and it continues to be associated with evil, with

in Science and the politics of openness
Open Access (free)
Why exhume? Why identify?

Uruguay has permitted the formation of a commission to search for the bodies of those who disappeared under the dictatorship. Since 2010, with the aid of archaeological expertise, this commission has engaged in the difficult task of exposing and circumventing the strategies of concealment employed by the military, slowly and patiently bringing to light the physical evidence of the implementation of ‘Operation Carrot’, which involved the illegal exhumation and systematic destruction of the remains of the dictatorship’s victims. Opening the section on the means and

in Human remains and identification