In contemporary forensic medicine, in India, the label of complete autopsy applies to a
whole range of post-mortem examinations which can present consid- erable differences in
view of the intellectual resources, time, personnel and material means they involve. From
various sources available in India and elsewhere, stems the idea that, whatever the type
of case and its apparent obviousness, a complete autopsy implies opening the abdomen, the
thorax and the skull and dissecting the organs they contain. Since the nineteenth century,
procedural approaches of complete autopsies have competed with a practical sense of
completeness which requires doctors to think their cases according to their history.
Relying on two case studies observed in the frame of an ethnographic study of eleven
months in medical colleges of North India, the article suggests that the practical
completeness of autopsies is attained when all aspects of the history of the case are made
sense of with regard to the observation of the body. Whereas certain autopsies are
considered obvious and imply a reduced amount of time in the autopsy room, certain others
imply successive redefinitions of what complete implies and the realisation of certain
actions which would not have been performed otherwise.
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.
This article aims to shed light on the post-mortem practices for
Palestinian dead bodies when there is suspicion of human rights violations by
Israeli military forces. By focusing on the case of Omran Abu Hamdieh from
Al-Khalil (Hebron), the article explores the interactions between Palestinian
social-institutional agents, Israeli military forces and international
medico-legal agents. Drawing on ethnographic and archival data, the article
explores how the intersectionality between the various controlling powers is
inscribed over the Palestinian dead bodies and structures their death rites. The
article claims that inviting foreign medico-legal experts in the Palestinian
context could reveal the true death story and the human rights violations, but
also reaffirms the sovereignty of the Israeli military forces over the
Palestinian dead and lived bodies.
Thousands of people died in Rotterdam during the Second World War in more than
300 German and Allied bombardments. Civil defence measures had been taken before
the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940 and these efforts were
intensified during the country’s occupation as Allied bombers attacked
Rotterdam’s port, factories, dry docks and oil terminals. Residential
neighbourhoods were also hit through imprecise targeting and by misfired flak
grenades. Inadequate air raid shelters and people’s reluctance to enter
them caused many casualties. The condition of the corpses and their post-mortem
treatment was thus co-constituted by the relationship between the victims and
their material circumstances. This article concludes that an understanding of
the treatment of the dead after war, genocide and mass violence must pay
systematic attention to the materiality of death because the condition,
collection and handling of human remains is affected by the material means that
impacted on the victims.
This article considers the contexts and processes of forensic identification in 2004
post-tsunami Thailand as examples of identity politics. The presence of international
forensic teams as carriers of diverse technical expertise overlapped with
bureaucratic procedures put in place by the Thai government. The negotiation of
unified forensic protocols and the production of estimates of identified nationals
straddle biopolitics and thanatocracy. The immense identification task testified on
the one hand to an effort to bring individual bodies back to mourning families and
national soils, and on the other hand to determining collective ethnic and national
bodies, making sense out of an inexorable and disordered dissolution of corporeal as
well as political boundaries. Individual and national identities were the subject of
competing efforts to bring order to,the chaos, reaffirming the cogency of the body
politic by mapping national boundaries abroad. The overwhelming forensic effort
required by the exceptional circumstances also brought forward the socio-economic and
ethnic disparities of the victims, whose post-mortem treatment and identification
traced an indelible divide between us and them.
Human remains and identification presents a pioneering investigation into the practices and methodologies used in the search for and exhumation of dead bodies resulting from mass violence. Previously absent from forensic debate, social scientists and historians here confront historical and contemporary exhumations with the application of social context to create an innovative and interdisciplinary dialogue, enlightening the political, social and legal aspects of mass crime and its aftermaths. Through a ground-breaking selection of international case studies, Human remains and identification argues that the emergence of new technologies to facilitate the identification of dead bodies has led to a “forensic turn”, normalising exhumations as a method of dealing with human remains en masse. However, are these exhumations always made for legitimate reasons? Multidisciplinary in scope, the book will appeal to readers interested in understanding this crucial phase of mass violence’s aftermath, including researchers in history, anthropology, sociology, forensic science, law, politics and modern warfare.
education. Post-mortem examinations were rarely
discussed. Only when the controversy surrounding organ retention
erupted at the end of that century was public attention drawn to the
uses of bodies and their parts. That controversy obscured the fact
that donation of tissue for research and education, and donation of
bodies to train doctors, has an even greater role in saving lives
, travelled to sea in respect of practices such as post-mortem
examination and vaccination.
Questioning who controlled a person’s decisions about health and body
illustrates that emigrants and convicts did not share the same experience of voyaging as
passengers who could afford to pay for all of their passage to Australia. Closely monitored
movement through hatchways was symptomatic of a wider reality: convict transportees and
government-assisted emigrants could not assume the right to freedom of movement, or to
knowledge and experience of forensic medicine and inquests on infants.
It is impossible to judge how many verdicts of natural or accidental
deaths were returned in cases of infanticide as a result of errors or inexperience on the part of coroners or medical witnesses. In 1860, a doctor
who performed a post-mortem examination on an infant discovered in
Shanaboola, County Limerick, concluded that death had occurred from
natural causes. A medical student in the local Barrington’s Hospital
asked for the body in order to practise his post-mortem techniques. The
sheep’. Some ‘lysol’ had been bought for the
post-mortem. He confirmed that Beatrice had complained to the
police about Harry’s cruelty and Hamblin had warned Harry.18
He had also seen a damaged fireguard and tongs that fit the
description of Harry’s alleged Christmas outburst.
Chief Inspector Cornish was called to testify on 10 May.19 He
told the inquest that Beatrice was quite willing to be interviewed
(a point Wellington emphasised). When she came to the station on
11 March she began ‘talking very rapidly’ about her married life.
Cornish had told her the ‘fairest