In post-revolutionary Iran, the most important factor in the construction of the state apparatus has been a war waged against twin enemies: the war of "sacred defence" against Iraq (1980-1988), and the elimination of political opponents through a post-revolutionary penal system encompassing prisons, revolutionary courts and Islamic militias. In the context of this repression, based on judicial, para-judicial and extra-judicial structures, several massacres of prisoners have been carried out since 1981, along with routine executions, disappearances and murders. The mass execution of several thousand prisoners in 1988 marked its apogee. The precise number of prisoners executed in the 1980s, and in 1988 in particular, remains unknown to this day, although the testimony of families and survivors, tend towards a figure of several tens of thousands. This article will draw on oral and written testimony, along with digital archive sources to examine how confiscating the bodies of victims of massacres, denying them a proper burial, and forbidding relatives from mourning, all fit into what one could term a "politics of death" covering the range of practices through which the manipulation of the dead has come to constitute a means of social control in post-revolutionary Iran.
If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book shows the undeniable contribution and the limits of the biopower theory in the understanding of dead bodies en masse. It talks about the fact that criminology has for so long ignored mass crime, even though the link between the corpse and the criminal is one of the fundamentals of the discipline. The book addresses the issue of the practical and symbolic treatment of corpses by societies affected by mass violence. It shows how working ideologies along with historical legacy and geographical landscapes determined the disposal of the bodies. The book examines the simultaneously diplomatic and medicolegal nature of the activities of the French Search Commission for Corpses of Deportees in Germany. It also draws on German archives to describe the various modalities of treatment of corpses in Croatia.