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Remembering the Japanese occupation massacres

Mass graves in post-war Malaysia

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Frances Tay

The violence visited upon British Malaya during the Japanese Occupation of December 1941 to August 1945 has prompted several historians to evoke comparisons with the atrocities that befell Nanjing. For the duration of three years and eight months, unknown numbers of civilians were subjected to massacres, summary executions, rape, forced labour, arbitrary detention and torture.

This chapter explores several exhumations which have taken place in the territory to interrogate the significance of exhumations in shaping communal collective war memory, a subject which has thus far eluded scholarly study. It argues that these exhumations have not been exercises in recording or recovering historical facts; rather they have obfuscated the past by augmenting popular perceptions of Chinese victimhood and resistance, to the exclusion of all other ethnic groups’ war experiences. As a result, exhumations of mass graves in Malaysia have thus far served as poor examples of forensic investigation; rather these operations highlight how exhumations can emerge as battlegrounds in the contest between war memory and historiography.

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New pasts, presents and futures

Time and space in family migrant networks between Kosovo and western Europe

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Carolin Leutloff-Grandits

The chapter analyses the shifting and layered temporalities within Kosovo-Albanians’ transnational family networks, illustrating both changing border regimes and divergent experiences and representations of border-crossing. The last three decades have entailed significant changes in Kosovo-Albanians’ past-future spatialities. Before 1989, many Kosovo-Albanians viewed migration to West Europe as temporary. After 1989, Kosovo’s ethnicised conflicts problematised the migrant’s ‘home-time’. Today, many migrants dismiss home-time as stagnant. They plan a future within the European Union for their children. Yet many also hope that their children will marry someone from home, in order to retain links with a static, idealised home, a time-space to which they themselves often hope to retire. Many villagers share at least part of this dream; they hope to flee stagnation and build a future abroad, a dream which, due to increasingly stringent entry regulations, is realised primarily through marriage migration. But marriage, in turn, is pre-eminently a village and family affair. Thus are the different time-space experiences of migrant and non-migrant re-synchronized through the strategies of transborder family networks. These times are brought into alignment, not least by the cyclical temporalities of family festivals (such as marriages) that draw migrants home.

Open Access (free)

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Zaira Lofranco

This chapter on post-war Sarajevo concentrates on the imposition of the new ‘inter ethnic boundary line’ that divides ‘Serbian’ Sarajevo from the rest of the city. This imposition changed many neighbourhoods, as people were either forced to leave, or found themselves living with new, albeit ethnically ‘correct’ neighbours. These recent mono-ethnic neighbourhoods have drastically disrupted the everyday associations and relationships that make for local belonging. The supposed ties of shared ethnicity cannot overcome other barriers to sociability: different social-economic groups’ disparate ways of being sociable; the seemingly incommensurate practices of long-term city dwellers and recently immigrated country cousins. The result, Lofranco argues, has been a reformulation of neighourhood time-space.

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Moral discourse and action in relation to the corpse

Integrative concepts for a criminology of mass violence

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Jon Shute

This chapter argues that the moral discourse and action surrounding the production and treatment of corpses is beneficial for an understanding of the long-term trajectory of societies affected by mass violence and to the formulation of a nascent criminology of atrocity and transitional justice. It describes important themes in what might be called 'moral arousal management theory': that body of interdisciplinary theory that attempts to understand the ways in which the moral-emotional 'work' of crime is performed and managed. The chapter then discusses the core methodological and ethical issues involved in establishing a criminology of the corpse and mass violence, and its place in the wider process of re-ascribing value to radically devalued human lives. It also describes something of the integrative potential of moral discourse in relation to the human remains of mass violence.

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Missing migrants

Deaths at sea and unidentified bodies in Lesbos

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Iosif Kovras and Simon Robins

This chapter examines the problem of how 'missing' migrants - in this case, migrants who died attempting to cross the Aegean Sea - constitute a novel (legal, political and moral) category. European securitization institutions refuse legal responsibility for such deaths; they lack administrative procedures for identifying and/or returning the bodies. Officially, the deaths at sea are pure 'accidents'; the Aegean thus becomes one of the EU's unacknowledged, largely non-territorialized, deadly borders. European securitization regimes are, however, indifferent to the dead bodies. They impose a biopolitical differentiation between dead and living: alive, migrants are a threat, a subject of surveillance without even the right to have rights (Agamben); dead, they are nothing. Locally, however, things are different. People on islands where migrants' bodies have washed ashore form subversive discourses: they give the dead both recognition and status. Locals bury the migrants who have gone out of time (so to speak), provide them with sites and memorials that give them place in both space and memory, and thus challenge the European border system by providing the migrants with retroactive, legitimate life.

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Migrating borders and moving times

Temporality and the crossing of borders in Europe

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Edited by: Hastings Donnan, Madeleine Hurd and Carolin Leutloff-Grandits

Migrating borders and moving times explores how crossing borders entails shifting time as well as changing geographical location. Space has long dominated the field of border studies, a prominence which the recent ‘spatial turn’ in social science has reinforced. This book challenges the classic analytical pre-eminence of ‘space’ by focusing on how ‘border time’ is shaped by, shapes and constitutes the borders themselves.

Using original field data from Israel, northern Europe and Europe's south-eastern borders (Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, Sarajevo, Lesbos), our contributors explore ‘everyday forms of border temporality’ – the ways in which people through their temporal practices manage, shape, represent and constitute the borders across which they move or at which they are made to halt. In these accounts, which are based on fine-tuned ethnographic research sensitive to historical depth and wider political-economic context and transformation, ‘moving’ is understood not only as mobility but as affect, where borders become not just something to be ‘crossed’ but something that is emotionally experienced and ‘felt’.

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A mere technical exercise?

Challenges and technological solutions to the ­identification of individuals in mass grave scenarios in the modern context

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Gillian Fowler and Tim Thompson

The chapter will examine how forensic scientists, including anthropologists, have been exploring the potential of new methods and processes in the resolution of mass grave contexts. The introduction of DNA to contexts where these challenges exist has had some success in the Balkans and in Guatemala, two areas that have experienced brutal civil wars for a number of years. More recently, the analysis of elemental and osteometric measures on the body have demonstrated potential in attempts to re-associate remains. Ultimately however, technological developments complement extensive ante-mortem investigation and the two cannot be utilised independently if the required end result is to successfully identify victims.

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Living on borrowed time

Borders, ticking clocks and timelessness among temporary labour migrants in Israel

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Robin A. Harper and Hani Zubida

This chapter explores the relationship between labour migration and everyday temporalities. It builds on the idea of a border as defining a time-space and of border crossing as generating new concepts of time. Migrants’ experiences of time are conditioned by their divergent legal status, their distance from home and family, and their relative power or powerlessness. This is particularly true of labour migrants in countries such as Israel. ‘Rupture time’ and ‘freedom time’ enable or hinder immigrant incorporation into national, institutional Israeli time-space. The result is a vivid illustration of how migrant border crossings are composed of diverse temporalities, between which migrants must navigate both in their everyday lives and as a past-future migrant trajectory.

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Lands of Unkultur

Mass violence, corpses, and the Nazi imagination of the East

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Michael McConnell

This paper uses the treatment of dead bodies in occupied Eastern Europe to argue that the public hangings and mass shootings of civilians committed by German troops reinforced their conceptions of the region as a disordered and barbaric space in need of outside intervention. It also intends to demonstrate how these views on the treatment of the dead later became displaced onto the populations of Western Europe and Germany itself in the last years of World War II. The historiography has overlooked how acts of subjugation, in particular, executions, served to reinforce the German imagination regarding the East and the people who inhabited it. Drawing upon contemporary police and military documents, as well as post-war trial material, this paper contends that the atrocities committed were far from merely arbitrary acts aimed at coercing the civilian population into supporting the goals of the occupation.

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Introduction

Crossing borders, changing times

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Madeleine Hurd, Hastings Donnan and Carolin Leutloff-Grandits

This chapter introduces the relationship between borders and time, exploring this relationship through three interrelated themes: the time-spaces generated by polity borders, which construct notions of ‘us’ and ‘them’; the ways in which time features in the cross-border networks of migrants; and time in relation to the body itself as borders are shaped, felt, experienced and embodied. Outlining the arguments of the contributors, the chapter highlights how the spatial-temporal representations of borders generate hierarchies between ‘East’ and ‘West’, which change with time as borders are redrawn. Border crossing may lead to a temporal synchrony and disjuncture both within and beyond the borders, which shape the practical as well as the moral and emotional contexts in which cross-border migrants live their daily lives. The affective networks which migrants build up across borders may link, fragment or rupture ties between spouses, neighbours, friends and families. The chapter also shows how border crossing is a very bodily experience, as borders slow, impede or advance the traffic of bodies according to prevailing constellations of power and opportunities for individual agency.