Corpses Of Mass Violence and Genocide

In Europe, and all over the world, mass violence and genocides have been a structural feature of the 20th century. Our research programme, Corpses of Mass Violence and Genocide, aims at questioning the social legacy of mass violence by studying how different societies have coped with the first consequence of mass destruction: the mass production of cadavers. What status and what value have indeed been given to corpses? What symbolic, social, religious, economic or political uses have been made of dead bodies in occupied Europe, the former Soviet Union, Serbia, Spain but also Rwanda, Argentina or Cambodia, both during and after the massacres? Bringing together perspectives of social anthropology, law and history, and raising the three main issues of destruction, identification and (re)conciliation, this research programme conducted by anthropologist Elisabeth Anstett and historian Jean-Marc Dreyfus, will enlighten how various social and cultural treatments of dead bodies simultaneously challenge common representations, legal practices and morality. Programme outputs will therefore open and strengthen the field of genocide studies by providing proper intellectual and theoretical tools for a better understanding of mass violence’s aftermaths in today societies. This research programme, which started in February 2012 and will develop over four years, is financed through a grant from the European Research Council.

New publication – Human remains and mass violence: methodological approaches

HMR coverThis latest book from editors Elisabeth Anstett and Jean-Marc Dreyfus outlines for the first time in a single volume the theoretical and methodological tools for a study of human remains resulting from episodes of mass violence and genocide. Despite the highly innovative and contemporary research into both mass violence and the body, the most significant consequence of conflict – the corpse – remains absent from the scope of existing research.

Why have human remains hitherto remained absent from our investigation, and how do historians, anthropologists and legal scholars, including specialists in criminology and political science, confront these difficult issues? By drawing on international case studies including genocides in Rwanda, the Khmer Rouge, Argentina, Russia and the context of post-World War II Europe, this ground-breaking edited collection opens new avenues of research.

Multidisciplinary in scope, this volume will appeal to readers interested in an understanding of mass violence’s aftermath, including researchers in history, anthropology, sociology, law, politics and modern warfare.

Human remains and violence: methodological approaches is available now. To purchase, please visit the publisher’s website or order using the form here.

New publication – Behind the material traces of Franco’s repression

Laura Muñoz Encinar and Julián Chaves Palacios have published the paper “Extremadura: behind the material traces of Franco’s repression” in a special edition of the journal Culture and History, presenting work from the long-running “Faces and traces of violence” seminars.

The paper analyses the mass executions linked to rebels’ occupation of territories in the Extremadura region of Spain throughout the Spanish Civil War and the post-war period. The authors pay particular attention to the systematic rearguard killings in occupied areas, elimination procedures carried out in concentration camps and prisons, and the fight against the armed guerrilla during the Franco dictatorship.

Fore more information please see here.

New publication – Space and the memories of violence

Space and violence coverPamela Colombo (Corpses of Mass Violence and Genocide programme) has published an edited collection with Estela Schindel on the relation between violence, memory and space: Space and the memories of violence: Landscapes of erasure, disappearance and exception.

Focusing on enforced disappearances and genocide as violent practices aimed at destroying and erasing the traces of the ‘enemy’, the contributions gathered inquire about the manifold spatial strategies of domination and violence, but also about the powers of memory, resistance and transformation. The originality and core contribution of this book lies in the dialogue it establishes between memory studies, on the one hand, and critical studies of space on the other. The bridging of these academic fields opens up a fertile and unexplored research area.

The volume brings together young academics and prominent international scholars from a variety of disciplinary fields, including Geography, Sociology, Political Science, Philosophy, Literature, Cultural Studies, Architecture and Theatre Studies. The authors engage with the spatial deployment of past and present violence in Argentina, Cambodia, Germany, Greece, Poland, Spain, Turkey and the United States.

Please click here for more information on the publisher’s website and a sample chapter.

Conference: Exhumed bodies and memory

imatge_antropologia_forenseOrganitza: Institut Català d’Antropologia (ICA) i ERAPI-Laboratori Cooperatiu de Socioantropologia. Amb la col·laboració de l’Insitut d’Estudis Catalans i el suport de l’Institut Ramon Muntaner i el Departament de Cultura de la Generalitat de Catalunya.

L’objectiu d’aquesta jornada és divulgar el treball efectuat pels professionals de l’antropologia en el marc dels processos de recuperació de la memòria de la repressió i la violència  durant la guerra civil i el franquisme, i en particular pel que fa als equips multidisciplinars que s’encarreguen d’exhumar fosses comunes.

Més informació aquí.

INOGS Conference – presentation

Elisabeth Anstett will deliver the paper ‘Undesirable corpses: Destruction of bodies and denial of memory in the Gulag’ on 6 December 2014 at the INGOS conference in Cape Town.

By examining the Soviet concentration system, the paper will address the burial procedure (or lack thereof) for the millions of prisoners sentenced to forced labour from 1918. It is a notable feature of the Soviet State that they did not return the bodies of the dead to their families. The paper will interrogate the variety of practices used on the bodies to dispose of them “without a trace”, and the effects the issues this raises on the memory of the Soviet camps today.

For the full conference programme, please see here.

Call for papers – Material traces of mass death

The international event ‘Material traces of mass death: the exhumed object’ will be held on 4th-6th November 2015, Marseille.

Within the context of a historiography and of practices in renewal, the multidisciplinary team wishes to pursue reflections on a particular dimension of the material traces of mass deaths. If mass graves shelter human residues of the victims they also contain various objects, which equally challenge professionals of exhumations, researchers or relatives of the victims. Too often left aside (except by archaeologists), being considered appendices of skeletal left overs, these objects are not only rich in information, but they are also carriers of emotions and multiple interrogations. It is to these objects, signifying per se, their function in the practice of exhumation and their uses posterior to the practices of reburial and maintenance of memory, which this seminar is devoted.

Papers may focus in a non-exhaustive manner on the following themes:
- The object as a source: The object in a mass graves is a major carrier of knowledge: it represents one of the fundamental elements of expertise, anthropological treatment and scientific data.
- The object as a sign: Material traces of the massacre, which constitute the object, refer to the human being whom possessed it as a sort of metonymy and therefore disposes of a stronger evocative power. Thus the objects find themselves in the centre of the museum’s representations of mass violence.

The paper proposals, approximately 300 words and written in French or in English, should be accompanied by a brief CV (1 page maximum) and sent before the 12th January 2015 to the following address: objetsfosses@gmail.com

Fore more information please see here.

Conference – Traité des nouveaux droits de la mort

pgm-TDM1Il n’existe aucun ouvrage juridique à ce jour qui embrasse les questions funéraires et du cadavre de manière exhaustive. Afin de combler ce manque, le colloque projeté et organisé sous l’égide de l’association Collectif l’Unité du Droit offre une dimension transdisciplinaire qui sera valorisée non seulement à travers le prisme juridique de l’Unité du / des droit(s) (public, privé, pénal, historique, européens, etc.) mais encore au-delà des frontières juridiques en faisant appel à la médecine, à l’anthropologie, à l’histoire, aux arts, à l’urbanisme, aux religions, à l’économie, à la bioéthique, à la philosophie, etc.).

Ie projet s’articule autour de deux grandes thématiques (I. La mort, activité(s) juridique(s) et II. La mort, incarnation(s) cadavérique(s)) qui déboucheront sur des propositions concrètes (et notamment législatives) à l’instar d’une nouvelle définition du cadavre et de son statut juridique.

Le colloque <Traité des nouveaux droits de la mort> aura lieu à l’Université du Maine (13 & 14 novembre 2014) avec pour porteur principal le laboratoire Themis-Um.

Workshop: Towards a criminology of mass violence and the corpse

AFF Towards Criminology 06112014-page-0Criminology emerged in the 19th Century as a Europe-wide technology of enquiry into crime and its control. Despite this, European criminologists have only very recently begun to confront the mass atrocities committed on continental soil and in the name of the imperial/ideological ambitions of member states. This workshop aims to contribute to the development of a European criminology of mass violence and genocide.

Bringing together leading European scholars of crime and punishment whose work touches on mass violence, together with experienced practitioners of forensic archaeology and humanitarian emergency response, the workshop has four principle aims: (i) to contextualise the area by analysing trends in the prevalence and nature of European mass violence and corpse disposal; (ii) to understand the socio-legal status and forensic value of cadavers, together with their potential criminological value; (iii) to describe theory and methods that can make sense of the treatment and distribution of dead bodies by perpetrators; and (iv) to understand the links between the legal/professional handling of corpses in peacetime and the illegal handling of them in times of conflict. In so doing, we hope to lay some of the foundations for theoretical, methodological and practical engagement with the subject matter, better understand how societies do and do not come to terms with a legacy of mass violence, and assist in the important project of re-ascribing value to radicallydevalued lives.

The workshop, organised by criminologist Jon Shute, will be held at the University of Manchester on 6th-7th November 2014. Please see the programme here and contact: l.radford@corpsesofmassviolence.eu
for further information.

New publication – Destruction and human remains

Destruction bookDestruction and human remains: disposal and concealment in mass violence and genocide is the latest book from editors Elisabeth Anstett and Jean-Marc Dreyfus, investigating a crucial question frequently neglected in academic debate in the fields of mass violence and genocide studies: what is done to the bodies of the victims after they are killed? In the context of mass violence, death does not constitute the end of the executors’ work. Their victims’ remains are often treated and manipulated in very specific ways, amounting in some cases to true social engineering, often with remarkable ingenuity. To address these seldom-documented phenomena, this volume includes chapters based on extensive primary and archival research to explore why, how and by whom these acts have been committed through recent history.

Interdisciplinary in scope, Destruction and human remains will appeal to readers interested in the history and implications of genocide and mass violence, including researchers in anthropology, sociology, history, politics and modern warfare.

Destruction and human remains is available now. To purchase, please visit the publisher’s website or order using the form here.

New publication – La consécration juridique de témoins oubliés

Sevane Garibian has published ”La consécration juridique de témoins oubliés: le juge argentin face au génocide des Arméniens”, in Carrières de témoins de conflits contemporains (2). Les témoins consacrés, les témoins oubliés.

“The Turkish state perpetrated the crime of genocide against the Armenian people between 1915 and 1923.” This statement, made in Buenos Aires on 1 April 2011 by an Argentinian Federal Judge, constitutes the core of a court decision that is the first of its kind in the world and that offers a legal consecration – (re)cognition – of the forgotten witnesses of a crime denied by Turkey. The sentence takes its place in an altogether singular framework: the sui generis judicial practice of juicio por la verdad (trial for the truth), a national procedure created in Argentina in the 1990s in response to the politics of forgetting then related to the crimes committed during the military dictatorship. This practice is the direct product of an initial situation of effacement and impunity, that calls for the creation of alternative judicial mechanisms of validation of the criminal fact and consecration of its victims / witnesses.