Our 2nd annual Conference

Corpses: Search and Identification
in post-Genocide and Mass Violence Contexts

Organisers Elisabeth Anstett (CNRS, France) and Jean-Marc Dreyfus (University of Manchester, United Kingdom)

Advisory Panel
Michel Signoli (CNRS, France), Caroline Fournet (University of Groningen, Netherlands), Sévane Garibian (University of Neufchatel and Geneva, Switzerland), Jon Shute (University of Manchester, United Kingdom).


Corpses: Search and Identification in post-Genocide and Mass Violence Contexts
2nd Annual & International Conference of the Research Programme
CORPSES OF MASS VIOLENCE AND GENOCIDE
Conference to be held at the University of Manchester, UK on 9 – 11 September 2013

Madrid conference picFollowing a first conference in Paris in September 2012 focusing on the treatment of corpses in the phase of destruction (see here), this second conference of the research programme “Corpses of mass violence and genocide” aims to explore another severe manipulation of bodies after the killings: addressing their search and identification.

The beginning of the 21st century has already experienced many occurrences of this phenomenon, be it the opening of mass graves from the Spanish Civil War, the identification of corpses by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the long-standing search for disappeared political detainees in Argentina or the large-scale exhumations pursued in Rwanda. Whether bodies have been destroyed through industrial processes, mutilated, buried individually or collectively or even reburied in secondary or tertiary sites, the search and identification of these victims remains are undertaken in various circumstances and raise a wide range of questions.

The conference organisers have therefore gathered multidisciplinary contributions dealing with the search and recovery of bodies in various contexts of mass crimes, focusing in particular on the twentieth century. Studies will deal with a variety of geographical areas (Europe, Africa, America and Asia) and focus on the methods and processes involved in the search and identification of victims, as well as the motivations and interests behind these pursuits aiming at understanding what is at stake in conducting exhumations and human remains identification. From understanding these historical objectives, can we learn as much about the ‘searcher’ as we can about the ‘searched’?

Monday 9th September 2013

14.00-15.30Introductory address by Élisabeth Anstett (CNRS, France) & Jean-Marc Dreyfus (University of Manchester, UK)

Keynote speech: Tony Platt (San Jose State University, USA) “Bitter Legacies: A War of Extermination, Grave Looting, and Culture Wars in the American West”.

16.00-18.00Methods for exhumation, Chair and discussant: Tim Thompson (Teesside University, UK)

Luis Fondebrider (Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense, Argentina), “Searching for the Disappeared: Argentinean Forensic Anthropology in a Global Perspective”.

Francisco Ferrandiz & Luis Rios (CCHS-CSIC, Spain), “Scientific Rituals in Contemporary Spanish Civil War Exhumations”.

Isaac L. Baker & Brittany Card (Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, USA), “Identification of Alleged Mass Grave Sites through Remote Sensing”.

Tuesday 10th September 2013

9.00-10.30What is at stake in DNA analysis? Chair & discussant: Belen Rodriguez Cardoso (Banco Nacional de Datos Genéticos, Argentina)

Ernesto Schwartz-Marin (University of Manchester, UK) & Arely Cruz, “Articulating Forensic Science, DNA Databases and Kinship as a Civic Response to Everyday Disaster in Mexico and Colombia”.

Victor Toom (Northumbria University, UK), “Collapse of the Twin Towers: Bodily Remains, Next of Kin and Forensic Identification Mechanisms”.

11.00-12.30 - Exhumations and their agents, Chair & discussant: Luis Fondebrider (EAAF, Argentina)

Admir Jugo & Senem Skulj (International Commission on Missing Persons), “Ghosts of the Past: The Competing Agendas of Forensic Work in Identifying the Missing across Bosnia and Herzegovina

Rémi Korman (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, France), “ Search and Identification of Corpses from the Rwandan Genocide since 1994: Rwandan and international agents”.

14.00-15.30Exhumations post-WW2, Chair & discussant: Jean-Marc Dreyfus (University of Manchester, UK)

Anna Galinskaya (Museum of Great Patriotic War – Byelorussia), “The Work of the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission (ChGK) in Byelorussia: the Case of Maly Trotsnets”.

Gabriel Finder (University of Virginia, USA), “Depicting the Exhumation and Reburial of Holocaust Victims in Yizkor Books”.

16.00-18.00 - Screening of “Earth Promised Sky”, a 52’documentary film (2003) by Sabina Subasic devoted to the search and identification of victims of Bosnian War.

Day and night, Shida tirelessly draws portraits of her five sons, currently reported missing. Like thousands of other women in Srebrenica, she lives in her dreams and takes part in the protests demanding that justice be done. For the first time in History, a large-scale initiative has been launched to search for the 27,731 people who went missing during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. “Earth promised Sky” portrays the painful process of searching for and identifying the bodies through the personal accounts of Eva, Amor and Jasna. They attempt to go beyond the horror of it all by returning human beings their dignity and doing them justice.

Screening followed by a round table with Sabina Subasic (film director), Sévane Garibian (Université de Genève, Suisse) and Élisabeth Anstett (CNRS, France).

Wednesday 11th September 2013

9.00-10.30Exhumations, peace building & state legitimacy, Chair & discussant: Jon Shute (University of Manchester, UK)

Nicky Rousseau (University of the Western Cape, South Africa), “‘The Political Lives of Dead Bodies’ and ‘The Disciplines of the Dead’: the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Exhumation of Human Remains and Echoes from the Past”.

Rachel Hatcher (University of Saskatchewan, Canada), “Forests of Bodies: How Exhumations Make Legible and Extend the Reach of the State in Guatemala”.

11.00-12.30Exhumations and politics, Chair & discussant: Élisabeth Anstett (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France)

Karel Berkhoff (NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, The Netherlands), “Bykivnia: How Grave Robbers, Activists, and Foreigners Ended Official Silence about Stalin’s Mass Graves near Kiev”.

Vieceslav Bitjutsky (Memorial, Russian Federation)” Exhumation of Goulags’ Mass Graves in the Voronej Region”.

14.00-15.30Exhumations and territories - Chair & discussant: Caroline Fournet (Gröningen University, The Netherlands)

Caroline Bennett (University of Kent, UK), “Embodied and Contested Spaces of Mass Graves in Cambodia”.

Frances Tay (University of Manchester, UK), “Multiple Exhumations in Malaysia”.

15.30-16.00Conclusive remarks and perspectives