The Introductory chapter situates this ethnographic study within recent debates in sociology and anthropology on statecraft in the aftermath of neoliberalism, on the temporalities of the global political economy, and on bare life and ordinary life as conceptual lenses. The chapter carves out a conceptual space for recognising both politics and ethics that underpin the contemporary austerity state and introduces the post-Soviet Latvian case as particularly apt for pursuing such an analytical approach. It presents the two central arguments of the book, outlines the materials and methods used, and provides a summary of the chapters to follow.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book shows the undeniable contribution and the limits of the biopower theory in the understanding of dead bodies en masse. It talks about the fact that criminology has for so long ignored mass crime, even though the link between the corpse and the criminal is one of the fundamentals of the discipline. The book addresses the issue of the practical and symbolic treatment of corpses by societies affected by mass violence. It shows how working ideologies along with historical legacy and geographical landscapes determined the disposal of the bodies. The book examines the simultaneously diplomatic and medicolegal nature of the activities of the French Search Commission for Corpses of Deportees in Germany. It also draws on German archives to describe the various modalities of treatment of corpses in Croatia.