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.
Gender Equality and Culture in Humanitarian Action
Ricardo Fal-Dutra Santos
Despite increasing attention to gender issues in the humanitarian sector, the
notion of gender equality as a humanitarian goal remains largely rejected, as
some argue it would require interfering with cultural values and practices, and
thus lie beyond the remit of humanitarianism. This paper questions this by
examining the close relationship between certain humanitarian goals, and
cultural values and practices. It ultimately calls for a gender-transformative
humanitarian action that recognises and supports local feminist actors, in an
effort to transform gender relations both in local communities and within
This review examines the appropriateness of including men within the existing
sexual and gender-based violence programming in armed conflict settings rather
than providing services explicitly designed to address their needs. A central
premise of the paper is that men experience sexual violence differently to women
and that the way they seek help also varies. This gender-specific difference
calls into question why humanitarian organisations pursue a
‘gender-inclusion’ approach, which simply extends services
designed for women to men. There is a need to reconsider this approach, and
specifically its implementation. The paper reviews relevant secondary sources
and argues that current practices of sexual and gender-based violence
programming fail to translate into actionable responses suited for and sensitive
Dispelling Misconceptions about Sexual Violence against Men and Boys in
Conflict and Displacement
Heleen Touquet, Sarah Chynoweth, Sarah Martin, Chen Reis, Henri Myrttinen, Philipp Schulz, Lewis Turner, and David Duriesmith
Sexual violence against men and boys in conflict and displacement has garnered
increasing attention over the past decade and has been recognised in UN Security
Resolution 2467. Despite increased evidence and understanding of the issue,
myths and misconceptions nevertheless abound. The authors of this article
– practitioners and academics with extensive experience in the field
– aim to dispel ten of the most common misconceptions that we have
encountered, and to highlight the current evidence base regarding sexual
violence against men and boys in humanitarian settings. We argue that just as
there is no universal experience of sexual violence for women and girls, there
is no universal experience for men and boys, or for nonbinary people. In order
to address the complexities of these experiences, a survivor-centred,
intersectional approach is needed.