The bodyand counter-revolutionary warfare inapartheid South Africa
As resistance intensified in what would turn out to be apartheid's final decade, security forces in South Africa began covertly to execute opponents extra-judicially. A noteworthy aspect of these executions is that the modes of killing and disposing of corpses varied, sometimes along regional lines or according to the particular unit involved. The evidence of death and disposal within apartheid counter-insurgency warfare raises a number of issues concerning the reasons for a lack of a cohesive strategy regarding the disposal of dead bodies. It will be investigated how this helps us to understand the structures of violence within the apartheid state and the use of the corpse itself as a weapon of counter-insurgency.
Destruction and human remains investigates a crucial question frequently neglected from academic debate in the fields of mass violence and Genocide Studies: what is done to the bodies of the victims after they are killed? Indeed, in the context of mass violence and genocide, death does not constitute the end of the executors' work. Following the abuses carried out by the latter, their victims' remains are treated and manipulated in very particular ways, amounting in some cases to social engineering. The book explores this phase of destruction, whether by disposal, concealment or complete annihilation of the body, across a range of extreme situations to display the intentions and socio-political framework of governments, perpetrators and bystanders. The book will be split into three sections; 1) Who were the perpetrators and why were they chosen? It will be explored whether a division of labour created social hierarchies or criminal careers, or whether in some cases this division existed at all. 2) How did the perpetrators kill and dispose of the bodies? What techniques and technologies were employed, and how does this differ between contrasting and evolving circumstances? 3) Why did the perpetrators implement such methods and what does this say about their motivations and ideologies? The book will focus in particular on the twentieth century, displaying innovative and interdisciplinary approaches and dealing with case studies from different geographical areas across the globe. The focus will be placed on a re-evaluation of the motivations, the ideological frameworks and the technical processes displayed in the destruction of bodies.
The forensic and political lives of secondary mass graves in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Admir Jugo and Sari Wastell
This paper will examine the excavation of mass graves in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has evolved into a significantly standardized yet methodologically flexible set of procedures based on integrated principles of forensic archaeology, forensic anthropology and crime scene processing – the overall goal of which is to maximize the collection and documentation of all sets of human remains, forensic artifacts and features for the purposes of establishing an objective historical record, supporting the criminal justice process and the victim identification process. In particular, the phenomenon of the secondary mass grave will be explored. Why might a secondary mass grave play a distinct role from a primary mass grave, and in what ways, and for whom? Through an (admittedly implicit) description of the actor-network in which these graves are embedded, and the many sorts of actants with which they are in relation, the authors will attempt to describe the precarious and shifting place of Bosnia’s secondary mass graves in the country’s processes of social reconciliation and peace-building.
The disposal of bodies in the 1994 Rwandan genocide
In their ethnography of violent conflict, 'cultures of terror' and genocide, anthropologists have recognized that violence is discursive. The victim's body is a key vehicle of that discourse. Using Rwanda as a case study, this chapter proposes an agenda for ethnographic research to explore the relationship between concealment and display in contexts of genocide, with attention to the discursive quality of the disposal of bodies. The chapter explores this relationship in detail and discusses the historical background to the 1994 genocide. In pre-colonial Rwanda, the prevalence of burial or exposure was influenced by region and social status. In a sophisticated analysis drawing on his research into popular medicine in Rwanda and the cosmology of the pre-independence monarchy, Christopher Taylor suggests that Rwandans conceive of the body through a 'flow/blockage symbolism' which 'mediates between physiological, sociological and cosmological levels of causality'.
This chapter discusses the massacres carried out by the Ustaša in Croatia during the Second World War. It provides a brief presentation of the historical background, and describes the massacres carried out by the Ustaša militia and their corpse disposal methods. The chapter also discusses German and Italian reactions to discoveries of the physical traces of the massacres. The Germans supported the Ustaša in the transformation of Croatia into an ethnically homogenized state, and in doing so initially accepted the violent actions of Ustaša militias. The Germans had more difficulties dealing with the locations of the mass murders carried out by their Ustaša partners. The chapter raises the question of the extent to which the gruesome staging of death, using the corpses of killed opponents, might be part of the communications history of a civil war. Mass rape is typically an aspect of the violence in a civil war.
This article seeks to draw up an inventory of the various methods employed by the Young Turk regime to clear away the bodies of massacred Armenians, which were obstructing transport routes and posing a threat to public health. Particular attention will be paid to the role of the Interior Ministry, which regularly issued instructions to this effect to local authorities. The first section will examine the use of rivers, in particular the Tigris and Euphrates, during the first phase of the genocide (May-September 1915) for the rapid disposal of bodies of deportees who had suffered a violent death. This process will be considered in relation both to the upper reaches of these rivers, in the mountainous regions of Armenia, and downstream, in the deserts of Syria and Mesopotamia, where witnesses reported seeing bodies floating by for months. The second section will focus on the running of the concentration camps set up in Syria and Mesopotamia, in which prisoners died of "natural causes" through exhaustion, starvation or epidemics. The procedures implemented by the camp authorities regarding the daily collection of bodies from the previous 24 hours and the construction of mass graves will be analysed.
Chapter 1 explores a layering of time and space along the border between Germany and the Netherlands. At one time heavily patrolled, the Dutch-German border has been reduced to near-insignificance by recent EU decisions; but borderland signifiers encourage observers to remember and challenge both past and present meanings. The border can be seen as a montage which gives time a spatial representation. It enables a flaneur-like gaze on memory and mobility; a variety of signs present a palimpsest of meanings and historical referents, revealing the strangeness of a ‘blocked temporal passage’ between different types of border regimes. The flaneur recounts the spatial experience of relics of the past, whose afterlives awaken the observer to new conceptual constellations. Indeed, the juxtaposition of arbitrary relics, randomly witnessed, denaturalises assumed truths about the present and about borders, including the spatial power relations of conflicting border regimes
Portraying the exhumation and reburial of Polish Jewish Holocaust victims in the pages of yizkor books
Gabriel N. Finder
In the immediate aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust, Poland was quite literally a vast Jewish cemetery. In fields, forests, by the side of roads, and in Jewish cemeteries throughout the country, the corpses of dead Jews were buried helter-skelter in mass graves, partially buried in an apparent rush, or even left unburied. Even Jews who had no intentions of remaining in postwar Poland returned to their home towns resolved to fulfill a solemn duty to give the dead a proper burial, if possible in a Jewish cemetery. Using several yizkor books, this chapter will examine the efforts of Polish Jewish survivors to exhume the corpses of their dead and then rebury them with dignity in accordance with Jewish ritual and the role of memory in depiction of this act.
The status of bodies in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge genocide
Anne Yvonne Guillou
This chapter considers the corpses of mass violence in Cambodia. Cambodia's soil is made from the bodies of its children who have died throughout its history. Human remains have been variously defined and treated as corpses, dead people, ghosts, ancestors, bones-as-evidence and bones-as-memorials. There are similarities, at a village level, between the natural abodes of the land's tutelary spirits, such as groves, certain trees, termite hills or other mounds, and certain mass graves. The chapter explores how the question of observation schedules and temporality seems to be fundamental to our understanding of post-genocide Cambodian society, and in rural Khmer society. Following the 1991 peace accords, which were signed by all parties, including the Khmer Rouge guerrillas, and the placing of Cambodia under United Nations supervision, any reference to the genocide was not allowed in official documents.
This chapter demonstrates that the destruction of the human body is the proof of the perpetration of mass violence. The human body and the fate inflicted on it are absent from the definition of the crime of persecution, which directly concerns the treatment of the body before death, the victimized individual being expelled from both the social and the living spheres. The definition of a crime against humanity protects 'any civilian population', while that of genocide refers to the victim 'group'. The contemporary definition of crimes against humanity, as enshrined in the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court mentions neither human dignity nor the human body as such. If 'physical integrity' and 'body' reflect the reality, the legal norm does not go much further in the perception of the human body, thus neglecting both the significance of the body in the criminal modus operandi and its evidentiary value.