The chapter concerns an attempt to bring an ethnographic sensibility to the data generated by contemporary software developers. It focuses on numbers as processes and counting as a form, and explores how re-counting might be useful in attempts to reconstruct platforms and their associative realities. Since launching in late 2007, the code repository Github (Github.com) has become tremendously popular amongst programmers. Github’s growth attests to some substantial transformations in the way coders, coding and code associate with each other. On Github, coding practices have been re-formatted in ways that emulate the traits and tendencies of contemporary social media platforms. ‘Sharing’, ‘liking’, ‘watching’ and recirculation abound. Not only does Github host a wide variety of commercial, industry, government, scientific, educational and civil society software (and non-software) projects, but highly dispersed and diverse human and non-human actors congregate there. Github in early 2016 claimed to host 29 million code repositories and 6 million coders. The chapter describes some ways in which such large numbers might be re-counted. It explores how coders render accounts of what happens on Github through analysis of big data generated by other coders. It outlines some preliminary attempts to map the ripples of associative imitation that animate the platform’s growth and capitalisation. The growth of Github as intersectional assemblage, the reshaping of coding practices in imitation of social media and the susceptibility of large-scale public data about coding to analysis by coders alter the scope and focus of ethnographic study.
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.