Representations of Rwanda have been shaped by the display of bodies and bones at Tutsi genocide memorial sites. This phenomenon is most often only studied from the perspective of moral dimensions. This article aims in contrast to cover the issues related to the treatment of human remains in Rwanda for commemorative purposes from a historical perspective. To this end, it is based on the archives of the commissions in charge of genocide memory in Rwanda, as well as interviews with key memorial actors. This study shows the evolution of memorial practices since 1994 and the hypermateriality of bodies in their use as symbols, as well as their demobilisation for the purposes of reconciliation policies.
This article describes the brutalisation of the bodies of Tutsi and Jewish victims in 1994 and during the Second World War, respectively, and contrasts the procedures adopted by killers to understand what these deadly practices say about the imaginaries at work in Rwanda and Poland. Dealing with the infernalisation of the body, which eventually becomes a form of physical control, this comparative work examines the development of groups and communities of killers in their particular social and historical context. Different sources are used, such as academic works, reports from victims organisations and non-governmental organisations, books, testimonies and film documentaries.
8 Display, concealment and ‘culture’: the disposal of bodies in the 1994 Rwandan genocide Nigel Eltringham Introduction In their ethnography of violent conflict, ‘cultures of terror’ 1 and genocide, anthropologists have recognized that violence is discursive. The victim’s body is a key vehicle of that discourse. In contexts of inter-ethnic violence, for example, ante-mortem degradation and/or post-mortem mutilation are employed to transform the victim’s body into a representative example of the ethnic category, the manipulation of the body enabling the
Mass violence is one of the defining phenomena of the twentieth century, which some have even called the 'century of genocides'. The study of how the dead body is treated can lead us to an understanding of the impact of mass violence on contemporary societies. Corpses of mass violence and genocide, especially when viewed from a biopolitical perspective, force one to focus on the structures of the relations between all that participates in the enfolding case study. Argentina is an extraordinary laboratory in the domain of struggle against impunity and of 'restoration of the truth'. It constitutes a useful paradigm in the context of reflection on the corpses of mass violence. Its special character, in the immediate aftermath of the military dictatorship, is to test almost the entirety of juridical mechanisms in the handling of state crimes. The trigger for both the intercommunal violence and the civil war was the mass murders by the Ustaša. This book discusses the massacres carried out by the Ustaša in Croatia during the Second World War. After a brief presentation of the historical background, the massacres carried out by the Ustaša militia and their corpse disposal methods are described. Using Rwanda as a case study, the book proposes an agenda for ethnographic research to explore the relationship between concealment and display in contexts of genocide. This relationship is explored in detail after a discussion of the historical background to the 1994 genocide.
9 Bury or display? The politics of exhumation in post-genocide Rwanda Rémi Korman The practices and techniques employed by forensic anthropologists in the scientific documentation of human rights violations, and situations of mass murder and genocide in particular, have developed enormously since the early 1990s.1 The best-known case studies concern Latin American countries which suffered under the dictatorships of the 1970s–1980s, Franco’s Spain, and Bosnia. In Rwanda, the first forensic study of a large-scale massacre was carried out one year before the
the holder’s ethnic origin from 1931 onwards. While these representations of the Tutsi body formulated in the colonial era remained throughout the twentieth century, the meanings they carried changed over time. An idealized ‘Tutsi beauty’ became a mark of stigma following the fall of the Tutsi monarchy and the establishment of the first exclusively Hutu Rwandan republic at the beginning of the 1960s. However, it was at the beginning of the 1990s that these representations underwent a radical shift. With the emergence of economic tensions at the end of the 1980s, the
Destruction and human remains investigates a crucial question frequently neglected from academic debate in the fields of mass violence and Genocide Studies: what is done to the bodies of the victims after they are killed? Indeed, in the context of mass violence and genocide, death does not constitute the end of the executors' work. Following the abuses carried out by the latter, their victims' remains are treated and manipulated in very particular ways, amounting in some cases to social engineering. The book explores this phase of destruction, whether by disposal, concealment or complete annihilation of the body, across a range of extreme situations to display the intentions and socio-political framework of governments, perpetrators and bystanders. The book will be split into three sections; 1) Who were the perpetrators and why were they chosen? It will be explored whether a division of labour created social hierarchies or criminal careers, or whether in some cases this division existed at all. 2) How did the perpetrators kill and dispose of the bodies? What techniques and technologies were employed, and how does this differ between contrasting and evolving circumstances? 3) Why did the perpetrators implement such methods and what does this say about their motivations and ideologies? The book will focus in particular on the twentieth century, displaying innovative and interdisciplinary approaches and dealing with case studies from different geographical areas across the globe. The focus will be placed on a re-evaluation of the motivations, the ideological frameworks and the technical processes displayed in the destruction of bodies.
The after-effects of mass atrocity – bodies and bones – struggle to be defined within memorial projects. This article seeks to examine the politics at play in displaying dead bodies to interrogate the role of materiality in efforts to memorialise and raise awareness about on-going violences. It focusses on the nexus between evidence, dignity, humanity and memory to explore bone display in Rwanda. It then takes up two artistic projects that play on the materiality of human remains after atrocity: the art of Carl Michael von Hausswolff, who took ashes from an urn at the Majdanek concentration camp and used them as the material for his painting, and the One Million Bones Project, an installation that exhibits ceramic bones to raise awareness about global violence. In thinking about the intersections between human biomatter, art and politics, the article seeks to raise questions about both production and consumption: how bones and ashes of the dead are produced, and how they are consumed by viewers when placed on display in a variety of ways.
Anstett & Jean-Marc Dreyfus Africa has suffered the Rwandan genocide, which claimed 800,000 victims over the course of just three months in 1994,8 and the sporadic yet recurring violence in Sudan since 1982, which has claimed over 2 million victims in total, many of them in Darfur,9 while specialists in this field find it difficult even to agree on what to call the constantly mutating cycle of violence which has claimed 4 million victims since 1994 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), and which has become far more than a simple aftershock from the
utilization of the work of forensic pathologists by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in 1995, or even the large-scale opening – only beginning in 2000 – of the mass graves of the Spanish Civil War. In Rwanda the victims of the genocide committed against the Tutsis were exhumed and reburied, sometimes repeatedly, by the tens of thousands between 1994 and today. This case of incomparable scale, which is sometimes accompanied by the exhibition of certain human remains or of entire bodies in memorials like those of Murambi or Ntarama, contrasts