The first year of our research programme, which was launched in February 2012, began with a study mission carried out jointly by Elisabeth Anstett, Jean-Marc Dreyfus, Caroline Fournet, Jon Shute and Sévane Garibian to Argentina and Uruguay in March-April 2012. In the course of this mission, the team was able to meet with the major institutional and academic actors involved in the conservation and analysis of the legacy of the political violence of the 1970s and 1980s, such as the conservators overseeing the preservation of the Olympo and ESMA sites, the lawyers of the CELS and the researchers of the Núcleo de Estudios sobre Memoria, with whom a joint workshop was organised. During the visit to Montevideo, a collaborative project was set up with the anthropologist José Lopez Mazz (Universidad de la República Uruguay), leading to plans for joint research and publications.
2012 also saw a number of key events: the organisation of our first thematic conference devoted to the question of the manipulation and destruction of bodies, which took place at the EHESS in Paris in September 2012, and the publication in November 2012 of our first edited volume, Cadavres impensables, cadavres impensés, approches méthodologiques du traitement des corps dans les violences de masse et les génocides, published by Éditions Pétra as the first book in a series entitled “Corpses in mass violence and genocides”.
The 2012 conference aimed to explore the phase of the initial treatment of corpses across a range of extreme situations including mass cremations, concealment, profanation, displacement and reburial. Focusing on the 20th century, the conference sought to re-evaluate the motivations, ideological frameworks and technical processes at work in the destruction of corpses, adopting a comparative and instrumental perspective that has opened up new avenues of research in mass violence studies. The papers presented at the conference will form the basis of a thematic volume to be published by Manchester University Press.
Our first edited volume brought together contributions from nine researchers, historians, legal specialists and anthropologists, presenting a panorama of the various disciplinary approaches to the “corpse-as-object” in contexts of extreme violence. This volume, currently being translated, will shortly be published in English by Manchester University Press and in Spanish by Miño y Davila.
The research carried out as part of our programme has also been the subject of several presentations delivered at major conferences such as Lessons & Legacies in October 2012, the International Network of Genocide Scholars conference in July 2012, the European Society of Criminology conference in September 2012 and the American Society of Criminology conference in November 2012.