Marije Hristova 1 and Monika Żychlińska 2
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  • 1 Radboud University Nijmegen
  • 2 University of Warsaw
Mass grave exhumations as patriotic retreat
Sacralisation and militarisation in the remembrance of the ‘cursed soldiers’
in Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal

Between 2012 and 2017, at the Ł-section of Warsaw’s Powązki Military Cemetery, or ‘Łączka’, the Polish Institute of National Remembrance exhumed a mass grave containing the remains of post-war anti-communist resistance fighters. Being referred to as the ‘cursed soldiers’, these fighters have become key figures in post-2015 Polish memory politics. In this article we focus on the role of the volunteers at these exhumations in the production of the ‘cursed soldiers’ memory. Following the idea of community archaeology as a civil society-building practice, the observed processes of sacralisation and militarisation show how the exhumations create a community of memory that promotes the core values of the currently governing national-conservative PiS party. We found that tropes related to forensic research and typically identified with cosmopolitan memory paradigms are used within a generally nationalist and antagonistic memory framework.

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