This chapter investigates the intensification of data practices that has occurred over the last decades in the environmental sciences. Moving away from a critical focus on the commodification of the environment, the chapter examines how a recent international databasing initiative in Global Earth Observations can be understood through the critical analytic of the archive. However, a focus only on the archival logics of such infrastructural data practices risks losing sight of other important elements of emergent data-driven scientific landscapes. One such element is data collection. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted with a large-scale Earth Systems project in the Brazilian Amazon, in comparison with a historical analysis of British colonial collections in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the chapter argues that paying attention to data collection as a process of both appropriation and transformation is crucial for understanding the relations that constitute contemporary scientific knowledge production.
The chapter will show how both the Soviet authorities and the leaders of independent Ukraine attempted to block real investigation and commemoration at the hamlet of Bykivnia, where the NKVD buried murdered bodies from 1939-1941. The chapter will look into how their attempts failed due to pressure from within—grave robbers and activists—and, especially, without—Germany and Poland. Following this account, details about the little-known Nazi and Soviet exhumations at the site will be examined.
In the immediate aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust, Poland was quite literally a vast Jewish cemetery. In fields, forests, by the side of roads, and in Jewish cemeteries throughout the country, the corpses of dead Jews were buried helter-skelter in mass graves, partially buried in an apparent rush, or even left unburied. Even Jews who had no intentions of remaining in postwar Poland returned to their home towns resolved to fulfill a solemn duty to give the dead a proper burial, if possible in a Jewish cemetery. Using several yizkor books, this chapter will examine the efforts of Polish Jewish survivors to exhume the corpses of their dead and then rebury them with dignity in accordance with Jewish ritual and the role of memory in depiction of this act.
The chapter will examine how forensic scientists, including anthropologists, have been exploring the potential of new methods and processes in the resolution of mass grave contexts. The introduction of DNA to contexts where these challenges exist has had some success in the Balkans and in Guatemala, two areas that have experienced brutal civil wars for a number of years. More recently, the analysis of elemental and osteometric measures on the body have demonstrated potential in attempts to re-associate remains. Ultimately however, technological developments complement extensive ante-mortem investigation and the two cannot be utilised independently if the required end result is to successfully identify victims.