Our 1st annual Conference

Corpses and Destruction:
Destroyed, Hidden, Profaned and Displayed Corpses.
Conference held in Paris, France. 12th, 13th and 14th September 2012

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).


1st Annual & International Workshop of the Research Programme
« Corpses of Mass Violence and Genocide »

12th, 13th & 14th September 2012

École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales 105 Boulevard Raspail,
75006 Paris, France

This workshop addresses the first phase of the research programme “Corpses of mass violence and genocide”. In the context of mass violence and genocide, death is not the end of the executors’ work. After the abuses, the victims’ corpses are treated and manipulated in very specific ways, amounting in some cases to true social engineering; this phase is remarkably little documented in the existing research. This conference aims therefore to explore this phase of destruction, across a range of extreme situations including mass cremations, concealment, profanation, displacement or re-burials. Focused on the 20th century, the conference will seek to reevaluate the motivations, the ideological frameworks and the technical processes at work in the destruction of corpses, taking a comparative and instrumental perspective which should open to new research in mass violence and genocide studies.


Wednesday 12th September 2012

14h00-15h30 – introductory address/presentation

Elisabeth Anstett (CNRS, France) & Jean-Marc Dreyfus (University of Manchester, GB)

Key note speech: Yehonathan Alsheh (The University of the Free State, South-Africa),

‘Corpses of Genocide and Biopower – How Corpses Challenge the Biopolitical Paradigm in Genocide Research?’/ Les corps du génocide et le biopouvoir – comme les cadavres interrogent le paradigme sur le biopouvoir dans les études sur les génocides”


16h00-17h30 – Ideologies

Chair : Joost Fontein (The University of Edinburgh, GB)

•          Remi Korman (EHESS, France), ‘Les pratiques de cruauté pendant le génocide des Tutsi’/ ‘Cruelty practices in the genocide of Tutsi’

•          Michael Mc Connel (The University of Tennessee, USA), ‘Lands of Unkultur:  Mass Violence and Conceptions of Space and Peoples in the Nazi East’/ ‘Terres de Unkultur : violences de masse et conception de l’espace et des peuplements and les territoires de l’Est occupies par les Nazis.


Thursday 13th September 2012

9h00-10h30 – Criminology of mass violence

Chair : Caroline Fournet (Gröningen University, Netherland)

•          Jon Shute (University of Manchester, GB),  ’Unfamiliar territory: theory and method for a criminology of corporal destruction’/ ‘Territoire inconu: théorie et methode pour une criminology de la destruction physique des corps’

•          Kjell Anderson (The Hague Institute for Global Justice, Netherland), ‘Sleepwalking through Armageddon: Wilful Blindness and the Concealment of Human Remains in Genocide’/ ‘Marcher les yeux fermés vers Armageddon: aveuglement entêté et dissimulation des restes humaines dans les génocides’


11h00-12h30 – Secondary mass grave

Chair : Michel Signoli (CNRS-Aix Marseille Université, France)

•          José Lopez Mazz (Universidad de Montevideo, Uruguay), ‘Violence politique en Uruguay : une approche archéo-anthropologique’/ ‘Political violence in Uruguay : an archeological-anthropological approach’

•          Sari Wastell (Goldsmith College, GB) & Admir Jugo (International Commission for Missing Persons, Bosnia), ‘Primary, secondary and tertiary mass graves in Bosnia’/ ‘Fosses primaires, secondaires et tertiaires en Bosnie’


14h00-15h30 – Mass cremation

Chair : Robert Jan Van Pelt (University of Waterloo, Canada)

•          Elena Zhemkova (Memorial, Russia), “Les répressions politiques en Russie et le cas exceptionnel de la crémation de masse’/ ‘Political repressions in Russia and the exceptional case of mass cremation’

•          Elissa Mailänder (Sciences Po Paris, France), ‘Un spécialiste : le quotidien de travail (Arbeitsalltag) d’Erich Mußfeldt, chef du crématoire du camp d’extermination de Majdanek (1941‐1944)’/’A specialist : the daily work (Arbeitsalltag) of Erich Mußfeldt, chief of the Majdanek death camp crematoria (1941-1944)’


16h30-18h30 – Projection & round table
Organized in collaboration with the CNRS eschare-unit ADES
(Anthropologie bio-culturelle, Droit, Éthique & Santé).

Projection of «Las Manos en la Tierra», 52’ documentary film (2010) by Virginia Martínez devoted to the role of the forensic anthropologists in Uruguay in the search for the desaparecidos of military dictatorship (1973-85).

Projection followed by a round table with José Lopez-Mazz (Universidad de Mondevideo, Uruguay), Michel Signoli (CNRS, France), Sévane Garibian (Université de Genève, Switzerland), Elisabeth Anstett (CNRS, France) and Francisco Etxeberria (Universidad del País Vasco, Spain – to be confirmed).


Friday 14th September 2012 

9h00-10h30 – Governing the dead

Chair: Finn Stepputat (DIIS, Denmark)

•          Chowra Makaremi (CNRS, France), ‘« Et ils n’ont pas rendu son corps »: violence d’Etat, deuil et silence dans l’Iran postrévolutionnaire’/ « And they did not return his corpse » : state violence, mourning and silence in post-revolution Iran’

•          Max Bergholz (University of Concordia, Canada), ‘“As If Nothing Ever Happened”: Massacres, Corpses, and Silence in Post-World War II Bosnia-Herzegovina/ Comme si rien ne s’était jamais passé”: massacres, cadavres et silence en Bosnie-Herzégovine après la Seconde guerre mondiale’


11h00-12h30 – Disposal

Chair : Marcia Esparza (John Jay College of Criminal Justice – CUNY, USA)

•          Therkel Straede (University of Southern Denmark, Denmark), ‘The Dead Bodies of Bobruisk, 1941-1945‘/ ‚Les cadavres de Bobruisk, 1941-1945‘

•          Nicky Rousseau (University of the Western Cape, South Africa), ‘Death and dismemberment: the body and counter-insurgency in apartheid South Africa’/ ‘Mort et démembrement: le corps et la contre-insurrection dans l’Afrique du Sud de l’Apartheid’


14h00-16h00 – Concealment

Chair : Sévane Garibian (Université de Genève, Switzerland)

•          Mario Ranalletti  (UNTREF, Argentina), ‘Quand la mort n’est pas la fin. Vers une typologie du traitement des corps des « disparus » en Argentine, 1975-1983’/ When death is not the end. Towards a typology of cadavers’ treatment of « disappeared » in Argentina, 1975-1983’

•          Raymond Kevorkian (Université Paris-VIII-Saint-Denis, France), ‘L’eau et la terre ou comment faire disparaître les cadavres arméniens’/ ‘Water and earth or How to disappear Armenian cadavers’

•          Adrian Cioflanca (Romanian Academy, Romania), ‘Destruction and anonymisation: Holocaust-era mass graves in Romania’/ ‘Destruction and anonymisation: les fosses communes de la Shoah en Roumanie’

16h30-17h30 – Conclusion by Robert Jan Van Pelt (University of Waterloo, Canada).