The disposal of bodies in the 1994 Rwandan genocide
Display, concealment and ‘culture’:
the disposal of bodies in the 1994
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
The concealment of bodies during
the military dictatorship in Uruguay
José López Mazz
The political violence that occurred in Latin America during the
second half of the twentieth century was deeply rooted in historic
and prehistoric cultural traditions. To study it in a scientific way
accordingly requires both the development of a specific set of cultural and historical methodologies and a leading role to be played by
archaeological techniques and forensic anthropology.
Our focus is in part on apprehending and understanding violent
Dispelling Misconceptions about Sexual Violence against Men and Boys in
Conflict and Displacement
, 2019 ). This concealment has
legal, medical, mental health and other implications for survivors. It also bolsters
the misconception that men are violated only when they are completely powerless
(i.e. as captives) and may result in differential treatment in legal contexts ( Sellers, 2007 ).
Misconception 2: The Most Common Form of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence against
Men and Boys Is Anal Rape
Among humanitarian aid workers and health providers, sexual
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.
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.
came before the courts
charged with infant murder; she was unmarried, worked as a domestic
servant and had allegedly murdered a newborn baby.
A woman suspected of infant murder or concealment of birth was
generally arrested and remanded in prison while the case was investigated. Criminal cases were initially heard at the local petty sessions, held
in a courthouse or a public ‘justice room’.4 Witnesses, some of whom
would have testified at the inquest on the body of the dead infant, were
examined under oath and could be cross-examined by the defendant.5
observes, children may boastfully chirrup to one another ‘I know something that you don’t know’ even where this ‘something’ ‘is made up and actually refers to no secret’ (ibid.). My reading of Simmel, then, partially echoes the authors above in affirming the centrality of boundaries and exclusion, as I outline below, but also especially in the next chapter in relation to fraternity.
Where I depart somewhat from these authors, however, is in their more or less explicit insistence that Simmel’s sociology of the secret necessarily places concealment and revelation in a
a newspaper headline or an in-depth report.
Cases of infant murder and concealment of birth, regularly committed in secret by individuals acting alone, were embedded in Irish society
and involved entire communities. Shared rural and urban spaces meant
that privacy, for some, was limited. As case studies in this book have
highlighted, domestic quarrels about pregnancies outside wedlock, the
sounds of childbirth or the cries of a newborn baby could be heard
through adjacent walls. Many neighbours also relied upon each other for
survival; items were loaned and
Fashioning madness: consumerism
In Charlotte Brontë’s
Jane Eyre (1847), a dramatic scene takes place when the mad
Bertha Rochester breaks into Jane’s room two nights before her
wedding and rends her bridal veil in two. As in Radcliffe and her
contemporaries, Jane’s white wedding-garments are accorded
spectral properties: they
thought I would die.’3 The suspected
infant murder discovered in County Leitrim was one of a sample of 4,645
suspected cases of attempted infanticide, infant murder or concealment
of birth that came to public attention in the period 1850 to 1900. This
chapter provides a general overview of the crime of infanticide. It assesses
rates of infant murder and concealment of birth in post-Famine Ireland,
and outlines the extent to which Mary Meehan was a ‘typical’ suspect.
‘Infanticide was a crime happily rare in Ireland’:4 the numbers
V. A. C. Gatrell and T. B. Hadden have