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In search of the Republic of Vietnam war dead
Alex-Thái Dinh Võ

Finding, identifying and interring the war dead are ethically and ceremonially crucial tasks for healing, repairing and legitimising. Before the end of the Vietnam War, the United States had begun to look for missing Americans in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. In the wake of its victory and takeover of South Vietnam, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam went to great lengths to identify and immortalise its fallen soldiers. The same cannot be said for the war dead of the Republic of Vietnam, whose fall on 30 April 1975 made the war dead stateless; consequently they have never been legitimately acknowledged by the current Vietnamese government or their former ally, the United States. This article explores the accounting efforts by Nguyen Dạc Thành and the Vietnamese American Foundation to reveal the financial, logistical, technical and political opportunities and challenges in accounting for war dead associated with a state that no longer exists.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s policies for repatriating soldiers’ remains and accounting for the missing after the Chinese Civil War and the Korean War
Liu Zhaokun

After the Chinese Civil War (1946–49), hundreds of thousands of graves of the People’s Liberation Army soldiers dotted the country’s landscape; the ensuing Korean War caused more casualties. Honouring this immense sacrifice and mobilising the survivors for its reconstruction were indispensable for the nascent People’s Republic of China. This research probes China’s policies to repatriate soldiers’ remains and account for those missing after these wars. The dilapidating status of soldiers’ graves threatened the morale of soldiers’ families, the backbone of the country’s socialist revolution. The state acknowledged families’ wishes to retrieve soldiers’ remains and nationalised their repatriation to salvage popular support. However, the deceased were not to drain the labour and resources reserved for the revolution. This principle had effectively prevented most families from retrieving remains. Accounting for missing soldiers was to ensure that only the revolutionary martyrs’ families could receive due honour and privilege.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
Fate, fortune and families of fallen soldiers in nationalist China
Linh D. Vũ

Although local authorities, communities and charities played a major role in dealing with conflict fatalities, the Republican era (1911–49) saw new government initiatives to attend to the afterlives of common soldiers. Leaders of the Nationalist Party (Guomindang) exemplified ambitions to govern the dead by implementing a policy of collecting and burying fallen soldiers. As the first public military cemetery, constructed in Nanjing in 1935, could not accommodate the millions of war dead in the decade of war that followed, the Nationalist state promulgated regulations to help bereaved families transport remains back to their home towns for burial. The Nationalist government began to plan more national military cemeteries after World War II, yet most commemorative projects in mainland China were interrupted by the Chinese Civil War. By constructing martyrs’ shrines and national cemeteries in Taiwan, the Nationalists are continuing their efforts to look after the military dead.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Actions for the missing: scientific and vernacular forms of war dead accounting
Tâm T. T. Ngô
and
Sarah Wagner

This special issue examines Asian experiences of war and mass death in the previous century, with case studies from China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam (North and South, among its diaspora and across multiple generations). In this introduction we highlight several of the wider analytical interventions offered by the articles: (1) the spatiopolitical dynamics of war dead accounting in which forms of vernacular forensic expertise interact with and inform internationally honed, empirically grounded practices of exhumation and identification; (2) the complex hierarchy of authority over remains that structures programmes of war dead accounting; (3) the variegated (as opposed to monolithic) nature of war dead themselves; and (4) the material ecosystems of remains, graves, cemeteries and the non-human forces of decay acting upon them. Finally, the introduction highlights the issue’s comparative potential: that is, what these different cultural, religious and ideological modes of meaning-making reveal about why and how human remains matter in the aftermath of war – and not just according to Western notions of national memory politics in which the soldier stands in for the state and collective mourning animates the national imaginary.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
Anna Hickey-Moody

This chapter examines affect and joy as key analytic concepts and themes that run through the data. Firstly, Hickey-Moody explores Spinoza and Deleuze’s writings on affect and joy. She then examines the children’s artworks as materialisations of feeling, communicated through line, shape, form, tone, imagination and matter. The adults’ conversations are similarly drenched with affect. Faith is an affectively charged issue. It is impossible for such intimate matters to be devoid of emotion and connectedness to others, both of which are defining aspects of affect. The connectedness to others which is both part of collaborative art-making and participating in a faith is what also creates joy, as Spinoza explains it. To the extent that acts of connection, empathy and support facilitated through faith practices are real, they bring joy to those who experience them. This chapter explores affect and joy as created through children making artworks and as themes that run through the parents’ focus group discussions and interviews.

in Faith stories
Open Access (free)
Anna Hickey-Moody

This chapter examines stories of outside belonging, which illustrate complex attachments to social groups. Anna Hickey-Moody collects the belonging stories that people have shared, including a diverse range of ways that people find connection and community. For many, community is a complex set of attachments to places, spaces, people and things: attachments that create a sense of belonging. These connections are variously found online, on a soccer field, through marriage or at a mosque or church, and they make people feel like they are part of something bigger. Furthermore, both online and offline communities are central to people’s sense of self, and these communities reflect people’s faith, geography, and sexuality. Migration stories and geographic community play central roles in determining community belonging, often followed by sexuality and career choices. Many participants who belong to a church, for example, do so for the music, storytelling and community, as well as (or even instead of) faith and spirituality. Embedded in this search for and experience of community is often a history of being rejected by other communities. Many research participants are inside and outside communities that are online and offline, intertwined in both. Through the themes of outside belonging and community, this chapter shows that those things to which we are attached, things that make us feel we belong, whether they be people, places, values or things, are of utmost importance in considering what makes a community.

in Faith stories
Open Access (free)
Anna Hickey-Moody

Faith sustains everyone in different ways through troubling times. Across diverse places, cultures and ages, children and adults are sustained by very different forms of faith. The implications of this for further research are that faith systems very much need to be seen as part of children’s lives, as well as continuing to be acknowledged as shaping adults’ worlds. Whether they are taught to believe in capitalism, Hinduism or climate change, children are born into belief systems that come to be part of who they are. We all have faith in something. The qualitative empirical research discussed in this book has shown that people are similar in the respect that we are all sustained by faith: faith that our children’s lives will be better than ours; that life after death will be better than it is now; faith in the ‘truth’ of science and the Enlightenment; in the fact that humans will never know all there is to this world; in the hope that our partner will outlive us; in whatever it is we need to believe.

in Faith stories
Open Access (free)
Anna Hickey-Moody

This chapter explores some of the internal systems of connection that constitute joyful assemblages in the lives of research participants. The examples brought together here are closed systems that create safety and provide physical, social, emotional and imaginative ecosystems in which people can flourish. In some respects, these systems of connection need to be read in relation to vulnerability. They provide protection from broader contexts of marginalisation. They offer platforms for visibility, identity and relationality that are built on recognition, community and creativity. Many research participants are part of communities that have historically been marginalised, colonised, de-valued by global cultural processes. This broader context of historical marginalisation means that specific interiorities need to be created and inhabited. Interiorities that offer safe visibility. This chapter offers three of many possible examples. These are council housing estates as sites of class belonging, football as a global community that affirms superdiversity and digital games as creative imaginative platforms and resources for children.

in Faith stories
Open Access (free)
Anna Hickey-Moody

This chapter examines six cities in England and Australia and the research sites within them in which Anna Hickey-Moody’s ethnography took place. The chapter orients the reader in relation to her approaches to research and the motivations for undertaking this project.

in Faith stories
Open Access (free)
A new materialist approach / Creideamh
Anna Hickey-Moody

This chapter develops a new materialist philosophy of faith. Through mobilising affect theory and writing from the new materialisms, Anna Hickey-Moody demonstrates how faith operates as both a form of what Spinoza (1996) calls ‘joy’ and, alternatively, what Lauren Berlant (2011) calls ‘cruel optimism’. Hickey-Moody shows that a change in the capacity to act (affect), such as that which is created through belief, is an experience that unites both secular and religious people. Hickey-Moody outlines the three scales across which faith entanglements and resulting unconscious orientations articulate: macro, meso and micro. On a macro level, global material economies, worldviews, geographies and networks of faith impact substantively upon an individual’s capacity to act, as these assemblages are both political and world-making. On a meso level, the individual and community geographies of belonging that constitute people’s everyday lives demonstrate the complex entanglements of matter and belief that make up lived faith worlds. At a micro level, ‘joy’ is the feeling that is brought about by an increase in our capacity to act and, alternatively, ‘cruel optimism’ is deferring pleasure (for example, sexual pleasure) in the hope that the act of deferral will lead to reward. We are all consciously or unconsciously enmeshed in various systems of faith relations, both formal and informal, religious and secular. This chapter puts forward a unified approach to thinking about the social and individual politics of orientation as expressions of different forms of faith.

in Faith stories