The Tomašica mass grave and the trial of Ratko Mladić
This article focuses on the judicial consideration of the scientific analysis of the Tomašica mass grave, in the Prijedor municipality of Republika Srpska in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Often referred to as the largest mass grave in Europe since the Second World War, this grave was fully discovered in September 2013 and the scientific evidence gathered was included in the prosecution of Ratko Mladić before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Based on the exhaustive analysis of all the publicly available trial transcripts, this article presents how the Tomašica evidence proved symptomatic of the way in which forensic sciences and international criminal justice intertwine and of the impact of the former over the latter on the admissibility of evidence, the conduct of proceedings and the qualification of the crimes perpetrated.
The display of human remains is a controversial issue in many contemporary societies, with many museums globally removing them from display. However, their place in genocide memorials is also contested. Objections towards the display of remains are based strongly in the social sciences and humanities, predicated on assumptions made regarding the relationship between respect, identification and personhood. As remains are displayed scientifically and anonymously, it is often argued that the personhood of the remains is denied, thereby rendering the person ‘within’ the remains invisible. In this article I argue that the link between identification and personhood is, in some contexts, tenuous at best. Further, in the context of Cambodia, I suggest that such analyses ignore the ways that local communities and Cambodians choose to interact with human remains in their memorials. In such contexts, the display of the remains is central to restoring their personhood and dignity.
Sacralisation and militarisation in the remembrance of the ‘cursed soldiers’
Marije Hristova and Monika Żychlińska
Between 2012 and 2017, at the Ł-section of Warsaw’s Powązki Military Cemetery, or ‘Łączka’, the Polish Institute of National Remembrance exhumed a mass grave containing the remains of post-war anti-communist resistance fighters. Being referred to as the ‘cursed soldiers’, these fighters have become key figures in post-2015 Polish memory politics. In this article we focus on the role of the volunteers at these exhumations in the production of the ‘cursed soldiers’ memory. Following the idea of community archaeology as a civil society-building practice, the observed processes of sacralisation and militarisation show how the exhumations create a community of memory that promotes the core values of the currently governing national-conservative PiS party. We found that tropes related to forensic research and typically identified with cosmopolitan memory paradigms are used within a generally nationalist and antagonistic memory framework.
Debates on the relevance of repatriation of indigenous human remains are water under the bridge today. Yet, a genuine will for dialogue to work through colonial violence is found lacking in the European public sphere. Looking at local remembrance of the Majimaji War (1905–7) in the south of Tanzania and a German–Tanzanian theatre production, it seems that the spectre of colonial headhunting stands at the heart of claims for repatriation and acknowledgement of this anti-colonial movement. The missing head of Ngoni leader Songea Mbano haunts the future of German–Tanzanian relations in heritage and culture. By staging the act of post-mortem dismemberment and foregrounding the perspective of descendants, the theatre production Maji Maji Flava offers an honest proposal for dealing with stories of sheer colonial violence in transnational memory.
Greer Vanderbyl, John Albanese, and Hugo F. V. Cardoso
The sourcing of cadavers for North American skeletal reference collections occurred immediately after death and targeted the poor and marginalised. In Europe, collections sourced bodies that were buried and unclaimed after some time in cemeteries with no perpetual care mandate, and may have also targeted the underprivileged. The relationship between socio-economic status (SES) and abandonment was examined in a sample of unclaimed remains (603 adults and 98 children) collected from cemeteries in the city of Lisbon, Portugal, that were incorporated in a collection. Results demonstrate that low SES individuals are not more likely to be abandoned nor to be incorporated in the collection than higher SES individuals. Furthermore, historical data indicate that the poorest were not incorporated into the collection, because of burial practices. Although the accumulation of collections in North America was facilitated by structural violence that targeted the poor and marginalised, this phenomenon seems largely absent in the Lisbon collection.
In this chapter the reader learns about the early-modern Swedish judicial
system and the ecclesiastical structure. The judicial body, which was fairly
uniform, consisted of three secular levels. Each level had its counterpart
in the ecclesiastical structure. Readers are also introduced to incest
prohibitions in a historical context with a focus on Christian rules and
notions. The differences between Catholic and Protestant ideas in respect of
incest prohibitions are clarified. The intense debate that was going on
between theologians on a European level before, during, and after the
Reformation is discussed and the outcome presented. Finally, the position of
Johan Stiernhöök, a high-ranking Swedish jurist in the late 1600s, is
demonstrated in order to explain the judicial discourse in Sweden at the
point in time where the investigation begins.
This chapter is divided into two sections, the first of them dealing with a
kind of intermediate period until 1872 and the second dealing with the later
period. The first period is described as one that consolidated the seeds of
change that were observed around the turn of the century in 1800. Incest was
discussed as a moral crime, the number of judgements upheld by higher
authorities diminished, and the punishments were often more lenient. After
1872, when several incest prohibitions were abolished, many of the
relationships that had been consensual disappeared from the material, and
incest came to be seen as a crime of violence. The notions of incestuous
relations were also affected by changing attitudes with regard to, for
instance, male and female sexuality, positive and negative eugenics, and
age. The chapter ends with a comparison to developments in other European
After a short review and update regarding social and judicial changes until
the turn of the century in 1800, crime cases and marriage applications are
once more analysed separately for the same period. The fact that the number
of dispensations was rising dramatically from around the second half of the
eighteenth century is discussed in comparison to economic and cultural
changes and also placed in a wider European context. The material shows that
a significant change in practical assessments of incest cases took place
during the last decades of the century, even though the laws remained
exactly the same as before. The changes can be related to cultural changes
in society regarding religion, passion, family position, and age relations
between spouses. The final section of the chapter analyses the political
debates that followed, presenting the arguments for and against a liberation
of some incest prohibitions.