This chapter aims to explore the Duha concepts of proper and improper burial, including how their 'return' to open-air funerals may be conceived as an effort to regain control over local bodies, lives and lands. The traditional funeral practice of the Duha reindeer nomads of northern Mongolia consists in placing corpses on the open ground in the wild forest to be eaten by wild animals. The Duha are a Tuvinian minority group of reindeer herders and hunters, amounting to only around 400 people, living in the forested and mountainous regions of northern Mongolia bordering Russia. Following the collapse of socialism in Mongolia, the Duha have increasingly returned to their traditional open-air funerals. The collapse of socialism have marked the end of the state law on funerals, but also the end of social security, which the Mongolian People's Republic had provided for its citizens.
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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.