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.
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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.