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
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The bodyand counter-revolutionary warfare inapartheid South Africa

8 Death and dismemberment: the body and counter-revolutionary warfare in apartheid South Africa 1 Nicky Rousseau As resistance intensified in what would turn out to be apartheid’s final decade, security forces in South Africa began covertly to exe­cute opponents extra-judicially, despite a formidable arsenal of security legislation and a state of emergency from 1985 to 1990.2 A noteworthy aspect of these executions is that the modes of killing varied, sometimes along regional lines, or according to the particular security unit involved. Disposal of the bodies

in Destruction and human remains

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.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal

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.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic

chapter4 21/12/04 11:00 am Page 73 4 Journeying to death: Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic has received huge international acclaim.1 Within American studies, anthropology, black studies, Caribbean studies, cultural studies and literary studies the book has been hailed as a major and original contribution.Gilroy takes issue with the national boundaries within which these disciplines operate, arguing that, as the book jacket tells us there is a culture that is not specifically African, American, Caribbean, or British, but all

in Postcolonial contraventions
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Deaths and politicised deaths in Buenos Aires’s refuse

The appearance of corpses in rubbish tips is not a recent phenomenon. In Argentina, tips have served not only as sites for the disposal of bodies but also as murder scenes. Many of these other bodies found in such places belong to individuals who have suffered violent deaths, which go on to become public issues, or else are ‘politicised deaths’. Focusing on two cases that have received differing degrees of social, political and media attention – Diego Duarte, a 15-year-old boy from a poor background who went waste-picking on an open dump and never came back, and Ángeles Rawson, a girl of 16 murdered in the middle-class neighbourhood of Colegiales, whose body was found in the same tip – this article deals with the social meanings of bodies that appear in landfills. In each case, there followed a series of events that placed a certain construction on the death – and, more importantly, the life – of the victim. Corpses, once recognised, become people, and through this process they are given new life. It is my contention that bodies in rubbish tips express – and configure – not only the limits of the social but also, in some cases, the limits of the human itself.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal

7 State violence and death politics in post-revolutionary Iran 1 Chowra Makaremi 2 From 9 January to 19 July 2012, the Iranian daily Gooya News, one of the Iranian diaspora’s main information sites, published a series of forty-one articles, entitled ‘Interviews with a torture and rape witness’. The tortures and rapes in question were from the period of violent state repression that gripped the Islamic Republic throughout the 1980s. The interviews give voice to the anonymous testimony of an official involved in the penitentiary and judicial sphere of that period

in Destruction and human remains
Towards atypology of the treatment of corpses of ‘disappeared detainees’ in Argentinafrom 1975 to 1983

6 When death is not the end: towards a typology of the treatment of corpses of ‘disappeared detainees’ 1 in Argentina from 1975 to 1983 2 Mario Ranalletti (with the collaboration of Esteban Pontoriero) On 24 March 1976, the Argentine armed forces, with extensive civilian support, carried out a new military coup against President Isabel Perón, claiming the need to combat guerrilla groups. In order to achieve this goal, task forces and clandestine detention centres were created, which launched an intense campaign of repression, reaching far beyond the confines of

in Destruction and human remains
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Voyages in Search of Love

From the time of his early adolescence until his death, traveling was one of, if not the, driving force of James Baldwin’s life. He traveled to escape, he travelled to discover, and he traveled because traveling was a way of knowing himself, of realizing his vocation.

James Baldwin Review

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.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal