This essay analyses the literature on the foibe to illustrate a political use of human remains. The foibe are the deep karstic pits in Istria and around Trieste where Yugoslavian Communist troops disposed of Italians they executed en masse during World War II. By comparing contemporary literature on the foibe to a selection of archival reports of foibe exhumation processes it will be argued that the foibe literature popular in Italy today serves a political rather than informational purpose. Counterpublic theory will be applied to examine how the recent increase in popular foibe literature brought the identity of the esuli, one of Italy‘s subaltern counterpublics, to the national stage. The paper argues that by employing the narrative structure of the Holocaust, contemporary literature on the foibe attempts to recast Italy as a counterpublic in the wider European public sphere, presenting Italy as an unrecognised victim in World War II.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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Warfare, politics and religion after the Habsburg Empire in the Julian March, 1930s– 1970s

,000 bodies at Redipuglia (a sixth of the total number of Italian First World War victims) increased the significance of the Great War anniversaries celebrated there in the national public discourse and in Italy’s relationship with the neighbouring Balkan nation.17 Exploiting victims: political propaganda after the foibe of 1943 During the world wars, in the border region north of the Adriatic sea, the cult of heroes had focused on a few figures with whom various collective identities could somewhat identify. In some cases, the body of the hero had a special role in the

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to have been constructed to a cave for the specific purpose of facilitating the transportation of the people destined to be killed.21 Eventually, the other warring parties also HRMV.indb 111 01/09/2014 17:28:39 112  Alexander Korb got used to throwing corpses in caves. In the second half of the war, Communist partisans are said to have pushed numerous Fascist collaborators into the karst crevices, and the Četnici also made use of this method.22 On the Italian side, the practice was described in the foibe, a narrative with a mystical character telling of victims

in Human remains and mass violence