This chapter argues that the moral discourse and action surrounding the production and treatment of corpses is beneficial for an understanding of the long-term trajectory of societies affected by mass violence and to the formulation of a nascent criminology of atrocity and transitional justice. It describes important themes in what might be called 'moral arousal management theory': that body of interdisciplinary theory that attempts to understand the ways in which the moral-emotional 'work' of crime is performed and managed. The chapter then discusses the core methodological and ethical issues involved in establishing a criminology of the corpse and mass violence, and its place in the wider process of re-ascribing value to radically devalued human lives. It also describes something of the integrative potential of moral discourse in relation to the human remains of mass violence.
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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.