The second chapter discusses the methodological and personal dilemmas of
conducting long-term anthropological fieldwork in a highly politicised
context. The chapter begins with a discussion of recent anthropological
debates about how to take the viewpoints of others seriously, even when
doing so implies accepting the existence of invisible beings and phenomena
such as angels, jinn, God, schizophrenia, psychosis, or depression. The
chapter explores a number of critical experiences and conversations between
the author and the people he worked with and introduces several of the
people in the accompanying film.
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.