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Comparing genocides

‘Numbers games’ and ‘holocausts’ at Jasenovac and Bleiburg

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David Bruce MacDonald

2441Chapter6 16/10/02 8:05 am Page 160 6 Comparing genocides: ‘numbers games’ and ‘holocausts’ at Jasenovac and Bleiburg What will our children say about us when they read about the Balkan Holocaust in their history books? (Stjepan Meštrović et al., The Road from Paradise) Chapter 5 outlined some of the principal myths of victimisation and persecution stemming from the wartime activities of the Serbs and Croats. By invoking images of historic genocide and persecution, both sides portrayed their actions in the 1990s as defensive only – a reaction to

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Elyse Semerdjian

This article discusses how Armenians have collected, displayed and exchanged the bones of their murdered ancestors in formal and informal ceremonies of remembrance in Dayr al-Zur, Syria – the final destination for hundreds of thousands of Armenians during the deportations of 1915. These pilgrimages – replete with overlapping secular and nationalist motifs – are a modern variant of historical pilgrimage practices; yet these bones are more than relics. Bone rituals, displays and vernacular memorials are enacted in spaces of memory that lie outside of official state memorials, making unmarked sites of atrocity more legible. Vernacular memorial practices are of particular interest as we consider new archives for the history of the Armenian Genocide. The rehabilitation of this historical site into public consciousness is particularly urgent, since the Armenian Genocide Memorial Museum and Martyr’s Church at the centre of the pilgrimage site were both destroyed by ISIS (Islamic State in Syria) in 2014.

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The Tutsi body in the 1994 genocide

Ideology, physical destruction, and memory

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Rémi Korman

9 The Tutsi body in the 1994 genocide: ideology, physical destruction, and memory Rémi Korman Since 1994, bodies have been at the centre of the memorialization of the Tutsi genocide. For, in addition to constituting evidence in the context of forensic investigations, they are publicly exhibited in memorials to the genocide. The display of bodies aims principally to remind visitors of the historical facts of the genocide: not only the sites of massacres, but also the form these took. Far from being an incidental detail, the methods employed by the killers are an

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Jessica Auchter

The after-effects of mass atrocity – bodies and bones – struggle to be defined within memorial projects. This article seeks to examine the politics at play in displaying dead bodies to interrogate the role of materiality in efforts to memorialise and raise awareness about on-going violences. It focusses on the nexus between evidence, dignity, humanity and memory to explore bone display in Rwanda. It then takes up two artistic projects that play on the materiality of human remains after atrocity: the art of Carl Michael von Hausswolff, who took ashes from an urn at the Majdanek concentration camp and used them as the material for his painting, and the One Million Bones Project, an installation that exhibits ceramic bones to raise awareness about global violence. In thinking about the intersections between human biomatter, art and politics, the article seeks to raise questions about both production and consumption: how bones and ashes of the dead are produced, and how they are consumed by viewers when placed on display in a variety of ways.

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Yehonatan Alsheh

1 The biopolitics of corpses of mass violence and genocide Yehonatan Alsheh Introduction For the past four decades, students of biopolitics have been probing why the spectacular growth in the application of technologies and policies that aim at the optimization of human life has been articu­lated with a parallel proliferation of human death. Various studies have been suggesting many objects or sites that are arguably highly symptomatic of the issue at hand – a privileged epitome of the biopolitical quandary. The most famous of these is the camp that Giorgio

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Rémi Korman

Representations of Rwanda have been shaped by the display of bodies and bones at Tutsi genocide memorial sites. This phenomenon is most often only studied from the perspective of moral dimensions. This article aims in contrast to cover the issues related to the treatment of human remains in Rwanda for commemorative purposes from a historical perspective. To this end, it is based on the archives of the commissions in charge of genocide memory in Rwanda, as well as interviews with key memorial actors. This study shows the evolution of memorial practices since 1994 and the hypermateriality of bodies in their use as symbols, as well as their demobilisation for the purposes of reconciliation policies.

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Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal is a biannual, peer-reviewed publication which draws together the different strands of academic research on the dead body and the production of human remains en masse, whether in the context of mass violence, genocidal occurrences or environmental disasters. Inherently interdisciplinary, the journal publishes papers from a range of academic disciplines within the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Human Remains and Violence invites contributions from scholars working in a variety of fields and interdisciplinary research is especially welcome.

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Imperial skulduggery, science and the issue of provenance and restitution

The fate of Namibian skulls in the Alexander Ecker Collection in Freiburg

Reinhart Kößler

This article explores the history of the Alexander Ecker Collection and situates it within the larger trajectory of global collecting of human remains during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This is then linked to the specific context of the genocide in then German South West Africa (1904–8), with the central figure of Eugen Fischer. The later trajectory of the collection leads up to the current issues of restitution. The Freiburg case is instructive since it raises issues about the possibilities and limitations of provenance research. At the same time, the actual restitution of fourteen human remains in 2014 occurred in a way that sparked serious conflict in Namibia which is still on-going four years later. In closing, exigencies as well as pressing needs in connection with the repatriation and (where possible) rehumanisation of human remains are discussed.

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Anouche Kunth

Braving the Ottoman‘s ban on capturing any images of the persecuted Armenians, witnesses dodged censorship and photographed pictures that would later be branded as proofat the Paris Peace Conference in 1919–20. Despite the challenge of these images to representations of the Armenian genocide, they were soon forgotten after the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne erased the Armenian Question, while time took care of destroying the corpses abandoned in the desert. This article will examine the image-disappearance dialectic through distinct temporalities of remembrance,and commemoration, each of which mobilises its own specific, iconographical semantics. In response to contemporary challenges, the repertoire of images has not remained sealed; over the last decade it has been reopened through depictions of bare landscapes and stretches of desert and bones,that suddenly pierce through the earth. The article will show how these images implicitly speak of the disappearance and seek meaning through emptiness.

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Human remains of Ovaherero and Nama

Transnational dynamics in post-genocidal restitutions

Elise Pape

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.