From 1994 onwards, bodies have been at the centre of the politics of memory surrounding the genocide of the Tutsi. As well as constituting evidence in forensic investigations, bodies are on display in the memorials to the genocide. This exhibiting of bodies aims principally to remind visitors of the historical facts of the genocide: the sites of the massacres and the methods used during them. The research carried out by Rwandan institutions with a view to memorialising the genocide is uniformly insistent on the "practices of cruelty" employed during it. Inventories of weapons used during the massacres are accompanied by descriptions of different methods of killing. These methods are also represented in many memorials. This paper will examine how these constructed ideologies of the twentieth century affected the treatment of Tutsis in the Rwandan genocide and the alarming consequences this created for the destruction of dehumanised bodies.
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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.