State violence and death politics inpost-revolutionary Iran
in Destruction and human remains

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.

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Destruction and human remains

Disposal and concealment in genocide and mass violence

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