The Tomašica mass grave and the trial of Ratko Mladić
This article focuses on the judicial consideration of the scientific analysis of the Tomašica mass grave, in the Prijedor municipality of Republika Srpska in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Often referred to as the largest mass grave in Europe since the Second World War, this grave was fully discovered in September 2013 and the scientific evidence gathered was included in the prosecution of Ratko Mladić before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Based on the exhaustive analysis of all the publicly available trial transcripts, this article presents how the Tomašica evidence proved symptomatic of the way in which forensic sciences and international criminal justice intertwine and of the impact of the former over the latter on the admissibility of evidence, the conduct of proceedings and the qualification of the crimes perpetrated.
The display of human remains is a controversial issue in many contemporary societies, with many museums globally removing them from display. However, their place in genocide memorials is also contested. Objections towards the display of remains are based strongly in the social sciences and humanities, predicated on assumptions made regarding the relationship between respect, identification and personhood. As remains are displayed scientifically and anonymously, it is often argued that the personhood of the remains is denied, thereby rendering the person ‘within’ the remains invisible. In this article I argue that the link between identification and personhood is, in some contexts, tenuous at best. Further, in the context of Cambodia, I suggest that such analyses ignore the ways that local communities and Cambodians choose to interact with human remains in their memorials. In such contexts, the display of the remains is central to restoring their personhood and dignity.
Sacralisation and militarisation in the remembrance of the ‘cursed soldiers’
Marije Hristova and Monika Żychlińska
Between 2012 and 2017, at the Ł-section of Warsaw’s Powązki Military Cemetery, or ‘Łączka’, the Polish Institute of National Remembrance exhumed a mass grave containing the remains of post-war anti-communist resistance fighters. Being referred to as the ‘cursed soldiers’, these fighters have become key figures in post-2015 Polish memory politics. In this article we focus on the role of the volunteers at these exhumations in the production of the ‘cursed soldiers’ memory. Following the idea of community archaeology as a civil society-building practice, the observed processes of sacralisation and militarisation show how the exhumations create a community of memory that promotes the core values of the currently governing national-conservative PiS party. We found that tropes related to forensic research and typically identified with cosmopolitan memory paradigms are used within a generally nationalist and antagonistic memory framework.
Debates on the relevance of repatriation of indigenous human remains are water under the bridge today. Yet, a genuine will for dialogue to work through colonial violence is found lacking in the European public sphere. Looking at local remembrance of the Majimaji War (1905–7) in the south of Tanzania and a German–Tanzanian theatre production, it seems that the spectre of colonial headhunting stands at the heart of claims for repatriation and acknowledgement of this anti-colonial movement. The missing head of Ngoni leader Songea Mbano haunts the future of German–Tanzanian relations in heritage and culture. By staging the act of post-mortem dismemberment and foregrounding the perspective of descendants, the theatre production Maji Maji Flava offers an honest proposal for dealing with stories of sheer colonial violence in transnational memory.
Greer Vanderbyl, John Albanese, and Hugo F. V. Cardoso
The sourcing of cadavers for North American skeletal reference collections occurred immediately after death and targeted the poor and marginalised. In Europe, collections sourced bodies that were buried and unclaimed after some time in cemeteries with no perpetual care mandate, and may have also targeted the underprivileged. The relationship between socio-economic status (SES) and abandonment was examined in a sample of unclaimed remains (603 adults and 98 children) collected from cemeteries in the city of Lisbon, Portugal, that were incorporated in a collection. Results demonstrate that low SES individuals are not more likely to be abandoned nor to be incorporated in the collection than higher SES individuals. Furthermore, historical data indicate that the poorest were not incorporated into the collection, because of burial practices. Although the accumulation of collections in North America was facilitated by structural violence that targeted the poor and marginalised, this phenomenon seems largely absent in the Lisbon collection.
Bordering intimacy is a study of how borders and dominant forms of intimacy, such as family, are central to the governance of postcolonial states such as Britain. The book explores the connected history between contemporary border regimes and the policing of family with the role of borders under European and British empires. Building upon postcolonial, decolonial and black feminist theory, the investigation centres on how colonial bordering is remade in contemporary Britain through appeals to protect, sustain and make family life. Not only was family central to the making of colonial racism but claims to family continue to remake, shore up but also hide the organisation of racialised violence in liberal states. Drawing on historical investigations, the book investigates the continuity of colonial rule in numerous areas of contemporary government – family visa regimes, the policing of sham marriages, counterterror strategies, deprivation of citizenship, policing tactics, integration policy. In doing this, the book re-theorises how we think of the connection between liberal government, race, family, borders and empire. In using Britain as a case, this opens up further insights into the international/global circulations of liberal empire and its relationship to violence.
The conclusion reflects on the main arguments and analysis of Bordering intimacy. This reflects on how borders are part of a broader logic of coloniality in our current moment which ties into an intensification of authoritarian politics. The reader is reminded why it is important to recognise where these practices came from and how they are orientated towards the dispossession of particular populations over others. Without an understanding of empire, we are unable to properly grasp how government works, how violence and borders are organised in our contemporary moment. Without an understanding of the role that family plays in all of this, we risk ignoring how this is normalised/naturalised and how colonial conceptions of human worth are resuscitated and remade in our current moment (such as in liberal conceptions of ‘universal love’).
This chapter asks what the expanding use of powers to deprive British citizens of their rights tells us about the impossibility of British citizenship after the Empire. Writing against existing studies which propose that deprivation of citizenship is a contemporary aberration, it reveals the colonial genealogy of deprivation. Whilst legal deprivation has expanded under the War on Terror and through the ‘hostile environment’, this is an expression of older logics of dehumanisation tied to appeals to developmental concepts of the family. De facto deprivation of not only political rights but personhood was central to colonial rule and the treatment of the colonised people deemed ‘undomesticated’. Because deprivation of citizenship is targeted at racialised subjects, this practice has the effect of making all British citizens of colour into potential migrants. It makes large swathes of the population, with formal citizenship, deportable. This is described here as the work of ‘sticky borders’.
This chapter develops a theory of domestication, which underpins the book’s approach to borders, family, empire, race and government. This begins with a unique reading of Jane Eyre, a key piece of nineteenth-century literature, and explores what the treatment of the character of Bertha Mason can tell us about family and empire. Domestication concerns the organisation of household rule and the push to domesticate untamed and uncivilised elements in the name of heteronormative capitalist order. Drawing from postcolonial, decolonial and black feminism, the chapter shows how the discovery of undomesticated populations was central to domesticating territory through imperialism. Historically, family has related to race just as much as it has to the more familiar inequalities of gender and sexuality. The chapter shows how the figure of Bertha Mason is dehumanised in Jane Eyre as an undomesticated presence within the English manor house. This works as an allegory for the contemporary racialised migrant and citizen.