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Death, femininity and the aesthetic

Narrative and visual representations of death, drawing their material from a common cultural image repertoire, can be read as symptoms of our culture. The feminine body appears as a perfect, immaculate aesthetic form because it is a dead body, solidified into an object of art. This book explores the conjunction of death, art and femininity, which forms a rich and disturbing strata of Western culture. It unfolds the psychoanalytic and semiotic terminology and raises issues concerning representation, the interstice between the dead body and the image, sacrifice of the body for the production of art and re-establishment of order. The book then explores myths of femininity and beauty, and presents a socio-historical discussion of death since the mid eighteenth century and in its relation to the new value ascribed to femininity during this period. Using Lacan's typology of gender constructions, it presents Jane Eyre as the typical Victorian example for a tripartite feminine death figure. The book also focuses on the way that the death of the bride constitutes social bonds much as the more obvious bartering of daughters for purposes of marriage does. The concluding chapters focus on the issue of dead brides, and how women writers install, comply with, critique and rewrite the cultural image repertoire that links the feminine subject position to a speaking through and out of death. The book is richly illustrated throughout with thirty-seven paintings and photographs.

John Borneman

12 Abandonment and victory in relations with dead bodies John Borneman Katherine Verdery was the first to make some systematic observations about the accelerated movement of dead bodies in EastCentral Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Empire. She noted that, in this period of political transformation, the corpses of political leaders and cultural heroes accrued certain powers leading to a struggle over appropriating those powers, and to the exhumation and displacement of their bodies (Verdery 1999). Here I wish to consider the modes of appropriation

in Governing the dead
Jessica Auchter

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.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Therkel Straede

This paper traces the massacres of Jews and Soviet prisoners of war in November 1941 in the city of Bobruisk, Eastern Belarus. Sparked by a current memorial at one of the killing sites, the author examines the historic events of the killings themselves and presents a micro level analysis of the various techniques for murdering and disposing of such large numbers of victims. A contrast will be shown between the types of actions applied to the victims by the German army, SS, police personnel and other local collaborators, reflecting an imposed racial hierarchisation even after their death.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Exception and rupture?
Graham Denyer Willis
,
Finn Stepputat
, and
Gaëlle Clavandier
Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal is a biannual, peer-reviewed publication which draws together the different strands of academic research on the dead body and the production of human remains en masse, whether in the context of mass violence, genocidal occurrences or environmental disasters. Inherently interdisciplinary, the journal publishes papers from a range of academic disciplines within the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Human Remains and Violence invites contributions from scholars working in a variety of fields and interdisciplinary research is especially welcome.