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.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal

From 1945 until around 1960, ceremonies of a new kind took place throughout Europe to commemorate the Holocaust and the deportation of Jews; ashes would be taken from the site of a concentration camp, an extermination camp, or the site of a massacre and sent back to the deportees country of origin (or to Israel). In these countries, commemorative ceremonies were then organised and these ashes (sometimes containing other human remains) placed within a memorial or reburied in a cemetery. These transfers of ashes have, however, received little attention from historical researchers. This article sets out to describe a certain number of them, all differing considerably from one another, before drawing up a typology of this phenomenon and attempting its analysis. It investigates the symbolic function of ashes in the aftermath of the Second World War and argues that these transfers – as well as having a mimetic relationship to transfers of relics – were also instruments of political legitimisation.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal

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.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal

This paper traces the massacres of Jews and Soviet prisoners of war in November 1941 in the city of Bobruisk, Eastern Belarus. Sparked by a current memorial at one of the killing sites, the author examines the historic events of the killings themselves and presents a micro level analysis of the various techniques for murdering and disposing of such large numbers of victims. A contrast will be shown between the types of actions applied to the victims by the German army, SS, police personnel and other local collaborators, reflecting an imposed racial hierarchisation even after their death.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal

The Khmer Rouge forbade the conduct of any funeral rites at the time of the death of the estimated two million people who perished during their rule (1975–79). Since then, however, memorials have been erected and commemorative ceremonies performed, both public and private, especially at former execution sites, known widely as the killing fields. The physical remains themselves, as well as images of skulls and the haunting photographs of prisoners destined for execution, have come to serve as iconic representations of that tragic period in Cambodian history and have been deployed in contested interpretations of the regime and its overthrow.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal

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.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
War memorials, memory and imperial knowledge

Through its war memorials, the IODE has used memory to produce identity, instilling a shared sense of the past and defining aspirations for the future. 1 In recent years historians have placed renewed emphasis on the role of memory in the making and re-making of history. Raphael Samuel’s innovative work has destabilized memory as fixed or singular, and has brought into question

in Female imperialism and national identity
Ideology, physical destruction, and memory

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

in Destruction and human remains
The status of bodies in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge genocide

into a question with constantly shifting boundaries in which bodies, which are ceaselessly redefined and ‘renovated’, occupy a central position. Human remains have thus been variously defined and treated as corpses, dead people, ghosts, ancestors, bones-as-evidence and bones-as-memorials. They have subsequently been subjected to a range of different physical, ritual, discursive and museographic treatments which have transformed and arranged them, made them ‘speak’ or ‘keep silent’. One gets a sense of the multiplicity of these definitions and their ramifications when

in Human remains and mass violence
Open Access (free)
Individuality, identification and multidirectional memorialisation in post-genocide Rwanda

to retain its force as subject or stand as object. Enabled by a context of mass violence in which death ceases to singularly signify exceptional abjectness because of the ubiquity with which it is seen and experienced, identifications between the living subject and the corpse are enacted within new parameters. Rwanda’s corpses  –​viewed by many as the ultimate evidence of her genocidal history –​have become a literal part of the country’s landscape. At memorial sites such as Murambi, Nyamata and Nyarubuye, decomposing bodies and the bones of the dead commemorate

in Human remains in society