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Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Difficulties and challenges for the forensic medical system in Mexico
Isabel Beltrán-Gil, María Alexandra Lopez-Cerquera, Linda Guadalupe Reyes Muñoz, Sandra Ivette Sedano Rios, Nuvia Montserrat Maestro Martínez, and Diana Newberry Franco

As a result of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic, in 2020 forensic institutions in Mexico began using extreme measures in the treatment of bodies of confirmed or suspected cases, due to possible infection. A series of national protocols on how to deal with the virus were announced, yet forensic personnel have struggled to apply these, demonstrating the country’s forensics crisis. This article aims to reflect on two points: (1) the impact that COVID-19 protocols have had on how bodies confirmed as or suspected of being infected with the virus are handled in the forensic medical system; and (2) the particular treatment in cases where the body of the victim is unidentified, and the different effects the pandemic has had in terms of the relationship between the institutional environment and the family members of those who have died as a result of infection, or suspected infection, from COVID-19.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
The shock of Hart Island, New York
Sally Raudon

When drone footage emerged of New York City’s COVID-19 casualties being buried by inmates in trenches on Hart Island, the images became a key symbol for the pandemic: the suddenly soaring death toll, authorities’ struggle to deal with overwhelming mortality and widespread fear of anonymous, isolated death. The images shocked New Yorkers, most of whom were unaware of Hart Island, though its cemetery operations are largely unchanged since it opened over 150 years ago, and about one million New Yorkers are buried there. How does Hart Island slip in and out of public knowledge for New Yorkers in a cycle of remembering and forgetting – and why is its rediscovery shocking? Perhaps the pandemic, understood as a spectacular event, reveals what has been there, though unrecognised, all along.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
‘Evil deaths’ and the difficulty of mourning in Brazil in the time of COVID-19
Carmen Rial

Based on the anthropological classification of death into ‘good deaths’, ‘beautiful deaths’ and ‘evil deaths’, and using the methodology of screen ethnography, this article focuses on mourning in Brazil during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the extreme cases of deaths in Manaus and among the Yanomami people. The article ‘follows the virus’, from its first role in a death in the country, that of a domestic worker, to hurriedly dug mass graveyards. I consider how the treatment of bodies in the epidemiological context sheds light on the meanings of separation by death when mourning rituals are not performed according to prevailing cultural imperatives. Parallels are drawn with other moments of sudden deaths and the absence of bodies, as during the South American dictatorships, when many victims were declared ‘missing’. To conclude, the article focuses on new funerary rituals, such as Zoom funerals and online support groups, created to overcome the impossibility of mourning as had been practised in the pre-pandemic world.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Governing COVID dead in southern Arizona
Robin C. Reineke

Research into the governance of dead bodies, primarily focused on post-conflict contexts, has often focused on the aspects of the management of dead bodies that involve routinisation, bureaucratisation and order. Less attention has been paid to the governance of the dead in times of relative peace and, in particular, to the aspects of such work that are less bureaucratised and controlled. This article explores the governance of dead bodies in pandemic times – times which although extraordinary, put stress on ordinary systems in ways that are revealing of power and politics. Observations for this article come from over fifteen years of ethnographic research at a medical examiner’s office in Arizona, along with ten focused interviews in 2020 with medico-legal authorities and funeral directors specifically about the COVID-19 pandemic. The author argues that the pandemic revealed the ways in which the deathcare industry in the United States is an unregulated, decentralised and ambiguous space.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Political lives of the surplus dead
Nicole Iturriaga and Derek S. Denman

This article sets forth a theoretical framework that first argues that necropolitical power and sovereignty should be understood as existing on a spectrum that ultimately produces the phenomenon of surplus death – such as pandemic deaths or those disappeared by the state. We then expound this framework by juxtaposing the necropolitical negligence of the COVID-19 pandemic with the violence of forced disappearances to argue that the surplus dead have the unique capacity to create political change and reckonings, due to their embodied power and agency. Victims of political killings and disappearance may not seem to have much in common with victims of disease, yet focusing on the mistreatment of the dead in both instances reveals uncanny patterns and similarities. We demonstrate that this overlap, which aligns in key ways that are particularly open to use by social actors, provides an entry to comprehend the agency of the dead to incite political reckonings with the violence of state action and inaction.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Burial and the politics of dead bodies in times of COVID-19 (part 2)
Graham Denyer Willis, Finn Stepputat, and Gaëlle Clavandier
Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Author: Jacopo Pili

Anglophobia in Fascist Italy traces the roots of Fascist Anglophobia from the Great War and through the subsequent peace treaties and its development during the twenty years of Mussolini’s regime. Initially, Britain was seen by many Italians as a ‘false friend’ who was also the main obstacle to Italy’s foreign policy aspirations, a view embraced by Mussolini and his movement. While at times dormant, this Anglophobic sentiment did not disappear in the years that followed, and was later rekindled during the Ethiopian War. The peculiarly Fascist contribution to the assessment of Britain was ideological. From the mid-1920s, the regime’s intellectuals saw Fascism as the answer to a crisis in the Western world and as irredeemably opposed to Western civilisation of the sort exemplified by Britain. Britain was described as having failed the ‘problem of labour’, and Fascism framed as a salvation ideology, which nations would either embrace or face decay. The perception of Britain as a decaying and feeble nation increased after the Great Depression. The consequence of this was a consistent underrating of British power and resolve to resist Italian ambitions. An analysis of popular reception of the Fascist discourse shows that the tendency to underrate Britain had permeated large sectors of the Italian people, and that public opinion was more hostile to Britain than previously thought. Indeed, in some quarters hatred towards the British lasted until the end of the Second World War, in both occupied and liberated Italy.

Jacopo Pili

Chapter 3 challenges the notion that, despite some Anglophobic outbursts, Mussolini had a healthy respect for Britain’s global power, instead directing his contempt either towards France or onto some individual British leaders. In order to do so, the chapter utilises the reports compiled by Italian military attachés in Britain from the late 1920s to 1939, underlining how the perception of Britain in the eyes of military experts, who were not necessarily ideologues and had close contact with British reality changed as they absorbed fascist ideological biases. During the second half of the 1930s, military attachés had absorbed the equivalence that Fascist ideology sought to create between democracy and emasculated weakness and applied it to Britain. The chapter then examines the point of view of the military elites, as well as the war plans of the Chief of Staff. By doing so, and comparing it with the outlook of the attachés, it tries to determine whether the process of creating an ideological and unrealistic image of Britain as an emasculated, decaying power was a top-down, bottom-up or an osmotic process. The second half of the chapter addresses the subject of Fascist wartime propaganda, contesting the historiographic point of view that propaganda began as relatively moderate in its content, only shifting towards greater truculence as the conflict progressed.

in Anglophobia in Fascist Italy
Jacopo Pili

Chapter 2 focuses on social, economic and cultural issues, navigating the Fascist assessment of Britain’s social crisis during the interwar years and how this led to the construction of the image of a decrepit and decaying Britain in the Fascist imaginary. The main focus of the chapter is on the years between 1922 and 1935, a period during which the opinions of Fascist commentators on British political, social and economic systems dramatically evolved with the development of Fascist ideology and the regime at home. These perceptions and the regime’s representation created an ideologically based understanding of Britain as a political and economic system. The regime decided to act in accordance with this image, for example concerning the support given by the regime to Oswald Mosley’s British Fascist movement. Unlike British liberalism, Fascist ideology was perceived as revolutionary and capable of solving the problem of labour by restraining the egoisms of both workers and capitalists in the name of national prosperity. Fascist intellectuals used their image of Britain as a negative example, framing Fascism itself as a universal message of progress. Far from being a later development, this ideological tendency was present in Fascist public discourse long before the Ethiopian War (1935–1936) and even the Great Depression, drawing its roots in the mid-1920s. Chapter 2 also addresses the themes of family, feminism, religion and art, examining the Fascist representation of British culture and how the ties of the Fascist regime to the Catholic Church influenced the representation of the Anglican Church.

in Anglophobia in Fascist Italy