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Cambodia’s bones
Fiona Gill

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.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Yann LeGall

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.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
Róisín Read
Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Gender Equality and Culture in Humanitarian Action
Ricardo Fal-Dutra Santos

Despite increasing attention to gender issues in the humanitarian sector, the notion of gender equality as a humanitarian goal remains largely rejected, as some argue it would require interfering with cultural values and practices, and thus lie beyond the remit of humanitarianism. This paper questions this by examining the close relationship between certain humanitarian goals, and cultural values and practices. It ultimately calls for a gender-transformative humanitarian action that recognises and supports local feminist actors, in an effort to transform gender relations both in local communities and within humanitarianism itself.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Catherine Akurut

This review examines the appropriateness of including men within the existing sexual and gender-based violence programming in armed conflict settings rather than providing services explicitly designed to address their needs. A central premise of the paper is that men experience sexual violence differently to women and that the way they seek help also varies. This gender-specific difference calls into question why humanitarian organisations pursue a ‘gender-inclusion’ approach, which simply extends services designed for women to men. There is a need to reconsider this approach, and specifically its implementation. The paper reviews relevant secondary sources and argues that current practices of sexual and gender-based violence programming fail to translate into actionable responses suited for and sensitive to men.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Dispelling Misconceptions about Sexual Violence against Men and Boys in Conflict and Displacement
Heleen Touquet, Sarah Chynoweth, Sarah Martin, Chen Reis, Henri Myrttinen, Philipp Schulz, Lewis Turner, and David Duriesmith

Sexual violence against men and boys in conflict and displacement has garnered increasing attention over the past decade and has been recognised in UN Security Resolution 2467. Despite increased evidence and understanding of the issue, myths and misconceptions nevertheless abound. The authors of this article – practitioners and academics with extensive experience in the field – aim to dispel ten of the most common misconceptions that we have encountered, and to highlight the current evidence base regarding sexual violence against men and boys in humanitarian settings. We argue that just as there is no universal experience of sexual violence for women and girls, there is no universal experience for men and boys, or for nonbinary people. In order to address the complexities of these experiences, a survivor-centred, intersectional approach is needed.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Corporations, Celebrities and the Construction of the Entrepreneurial Refugee Woman
Annika Bergman Rosamond and Catia Gregoratti

In this article we seek to extend recent debates on how the promotion of self-reliance through vocational training and entrepreneurship has become the new neoliberal mantra among refugee-supporting agencies, policymakers and humanitarian actors. More specifically, we do so in the context of corporate and celebrity-endorsed humanitarian partnerships and initiatives that single out refugee women and girls. Informed by postcolonial feminist scholarship and guided by Carol Bacchi’s ‘what is the problem represented to be’ (WPR) approach we compare IKEA’s partnership with the Jordan River Foundation (JRF) in Jordan and Angelina Jolie’s support for the RefuSHE project in Kenya. While differences between the two problem representations exist, both initiatives seek to empower refugee women by activating latent entrepreneurial abilities. These, we conclude, reinforce a saviour/saved humanitarian logic while also obscuring the gender division of responsibilities and precarious nature of artisanal labour.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
The Aid Industry and the ‘Me Too’ Movement
Charlotte Lydia Riley

In 2018, the global #MeToo movement turned its attention to the aid industry, after scandals at Oxfam and Save the Children highlighted the sexual harassment, abuse and assault prevalent in the sector. This article explores #MeToo in the context of the aid industry (informally known by many participants as #AidToo), particularly within a British context. The article argues that the aid industry exists in a historical, social and political space that is particularly volatile. The abusive behaviour of men in the sector is shaped and enabled by race, class and gender inequalities, which undermine many of the stated aims of international aid programmes. The humanitarian and development aid sector will not eradicate this behaviour until it recognises how it is enabled and encouraged by these inequalities. The article argues that the aid sector needs to develop an ethical code of conduct around sexual relationships, harassment and abuse that recognises power inequalities within the sector and seeks to protect vulnerable individuals.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs