John Wiley & Sons Anthropology of Violent Death Cover The first book to specifically focus on the theoretical foundations of humanitarian forensic science.. Product #: 978-1-119-80636-3 Regular price: $148.60 $148.60 In Stock

Anthropology of Violent Death

Theoretical Foundations for Forensic Humanitarian Action

Parra, Roberto C. / Ubelaker, Douglas H. (Editor)

Forensic Science in Focus


1. Edition March 2023
432 Pages, Hardcover
Wiley & Sons Ltd

ISBN: 978-1-119-80636-3
John Wiley & Sons

Further versions


The first book to specifically focus on the theoretical foundations of humanitarian forensic science

Anthropology of Violent Death: Theoretical Foundations for Forensic Humanitarian Action consolidates the concepts and theories that are central to securing the posthumous dignity of the deceased, respecting their memories, and addressing the needs of the surviving populations affected. Focusing on the social and cultural significance of the deceased, this much-needed volume develops a theoretical framework that extends the role of humanitarian workers and specifically the actions of forensic scientists beyond an exclusively legal and technical approach.

Anthropology of Violent Death is designed to inspire and alerts the scientific community, authorities, and the justice systems to think and take actions to avoid the moral injury in society and cultures due to grave disrespect against humanity, its memories and reconciliation. Humanitarian forensic science faces the role of mediator between the deceased and those who are still alive to guarantee the respect and dignity of humanity. Contributions from renowned experts address post-mortem dignity, cultural perceptions of violent death and various mortuary sites, the forms and critical effects of the so-called forensic turn and humanitarian action, the treatment of violent death in post-conflict societies, respect for the dead under International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and Islamic law, the ethical management of the death of migrants, and much more.
* In an increasingly violent world, this volume, develops a theoretical component for death management in scenarios where humanitarian action is required
* Facilities better understanding between the social sciences, the forensic sciences, and justice systems in situations involving violent death
* Discusses the latest theories from leading scholars and practitioners to enhance the activities of forensic scientists and authorities who have the difficult responsibility of making decisions
* It provides a better understanding of the humanitarian and cultural dilemmas in the face of violent death episodes, and the unresolved needs of the dignity of the deceased during armed conflicts, disasters, migration crises, including everyday homicides

Anthropology of Violent Death: Theoretical Foundations for Forensic Humanitarian Action is an indispensable resource for forensic scientists, humanitarian workers, human rights defenders, and government and non-governmental officials.

About the editors, xiii

About the contributors, xv

Foreword, xix

Preface, xxiii

Series preface, xxvii

Acknowledgments, xxix

1 The anthropology of violent death and the treatment of the bodies: an introduction, 1
Roberto C. Parra and Douglas H. Ubelaker

2 The posthumous dignity of dead persons, 1
Antoon De Baets

2.1 Introduction: generations and posthumous dignity, 15

2.2 The dead and posthumous dignity, 17

2.3 Evidence for posthumous dignity, 18

2.4 Duties flowing from posthumous dignity, 19

2.5 The nature of posthumous dignity, 23

2.6 Semantic debates about posthumous dignity, 25

2.7 Breaches of posthumous dignity, 26

2.8 Restoration of posthumous dignity, 28

2.9 Conclusion: the impact of posthumous dignity, 31

3 Continuing bonds and social memory: absence--presence, 39
Avril Maddrell

3.1 What are continuing bonds and how are they experienced and expressed?, 39

3.2 Continuing bonds and the well-being of mourners, 43

3.3 Implications for professional service providers, 46

4 The archaeology of disappearance, 49
Alfredo González-Ruibal

4.1 Introduction, 49

4.2 Disappearance and power: concealment, dispersal, and virtualization, 51

4.3 Material disappearance, human disappearance, 55

4.4 The disappearance of disappearance, 58

4.5 Concluding Remarks, 62

5 Bioarchaeology of violent death, 67
Anna Osterholtz, Debra Martin and Ryan Harrod

5.1 Introduction and background, 67

5.2 Categories of group-level violent death, 70

5.2.1 Bioarchaeology of Massacres, 70

5.3 Case studies illustrating integrative approaches to massacres in the past, 70

5.4 Differentiating between kratophanous violence and ritualized death, 77

5.5 Conclusions, 81

6 Destruction, mass violence, and human remains: Dealing with dead bodies as a "total social phenomenon", 91
Élisabeth Anstett

6.1 Introduction, 91

6.2 Understanding the forms taken by the Forensic Turn, and its effects, 93

6.3 Understanding the genealogy of professional practices of disinterment, 98

6.4 The blind spots of a total social phenomenon of great complexity, 102

6.5 Conclusion, 103

7 Kill, kill again and destroy: when death is not enough, 109
Roberto C. Parra, Digna M. Vigo-Corea and Pierre Perich

7.1 Introduction, 109

7.2 Dehumanizing, 111

7.3 When death is not enough, 114

7.4 Dismembering/mutilating: the perspective from culture, 121

7.5 Conclusions, 126

8 Mourning violent deaths and disappearances, 133
Antonius C. G. M. Robben

8.1 Introduction, 133

8.2 The conflictive mourning of the dead and missing after the First World War, 134

8.3 Enduring bonds of the living, the dead, and the disappeared in Argentina, 138

8.4 Oscillatory mourning of the dead and the disappeared by the bereaved, 142

8.5 Conclusion, 147

9 Whose humanitarianism, whose forensic anthropology?, 153
Jaymelee J. Kim and Adam Rosenblatt

9.1 Introduction, 153

9.2 Positionality of the authors, 155

9.3 Reconceptualizing violent deaths, 156

9.4 The dead as articipants in forensic anthropology, 158

9.5 What's missing from human rights, 166

9.6 The continued expansion of forensic anthropology, 169

10 Battlefields and killed in action: tombs of the unknown soldier and commemoration, 177
Laura Wittman

10.1 Introduction, 177

10.2 Tomb of the unknown soldier, 178

10.3 Mutilated victory, 182

10.4 As an Epilogue, 190

11 Mass grave protection and missing persons, 197
Melanie Klinkner

11.1 Introduction, 197

11.2 Missing persons in mass graves: a worldwide phenomenon, 198

11.3 The legal framework for mass grave protection, 201

11.4 Practicalities of protection, 208

11.5 Protection on a global scale, 210

11.6 Conclusion: the need to do better, 213

12 Respect for the dead under international law and Islamic law in armed conflicts, 219
Ahmed Al-Dawoody and Alexandra Ortiz Signoret

12.1 Introduction, 219

12.2 The Legal Framework, 220

12.3 Search for, Collect, and Evacuate the Dead without Adverse Distinction, 221

12.4 Identification and Recording of Information on the Dead, 224

12.5 Respecting the Dead and Dignified Treatment, 226

12.6 Respectful Disposal of the Dead, 229

12.7 Gravesites and Other Locations of Mortal Remains, 233

12.8 Exhumations, 234

12.9 Return of Human Remains and Personal Effects of the Dead, 236

12.10 Conclusion, 239

13 Unmaking forgotten mass graves and honorable burial: engaging with the spanish civil war legacy, 251
Francisco Ferrándiz

13.1 Overture, 251

13.2 On Funerary Militarism, 252

13.3 Franco's Militarist Imprint Under Siege, 256

13.4 Unmaking the Generalissimo's Burial, 262

13.5 Military disassemblage, 269

14 Dealing with bad death in post-conflict societies: forensic devices, burials of exhumed remains, and mourning processes in Peru, 277
Valérie Robin-Azevedo

14.1 Models for dealing with death: morphologies of "good death" and "bad death", 277

14.2 Contexts of mass violence through the lens of bad death, 278

14.3 Transitional justice, the forensic turn, and the "dignified burial": can we reverse bad death?, 280

14.4 From the necropolitics to the necrogovernamentality of the Peruvian state, 281

14.5 Exhumation of mass graves and the reactivation of bad death in the Andes, 284

14.6 The task of identification or the process of rehumanization of ill-treated bodies, 287

14.7 The uncertain dates and stretched time of bad death, 291

14.8 Body substitutes in the absence of any trace of remains, 293

14.9 Conclusion, 295

15 Migrant death and the ethics of visual documentation in forensic anthropology, 303
Krista E. Latham, Alyson J. O'Daniel and Tanya Ramos

15.1 Introduction, 303

15.2 Disciplinary ethics and social change: contextualizingforensic anthropology practices, 304

15.3 Methods and scope, 309

15.4 Making the case for a more socially aware practice of forensic anthropology, 318

15.5 Closing, 320

16 Bedeviling binaries: an integrated and dialectical approach to forensicanthropology in northern Uganda, 327
Tricia Redeker Hepner and Dawnie W. Steadman

16.1 Introduction, 327

16.2 Restless spirits and human remains in Acholiland, Uganda, 329

16.3 The integrated approach, 336

16.4 To excavate or not to excavate?, 340

16.5 Conclusion: from binary to dialectical relationships, 344

17 Guiding principles for the dignified management of the dead in humanitarian emergencies and to prevent them from becoming missing persons, 351
Stephen Cordner and Morris Tidball-Binz

17.1 Why the need for these principles?, 351

17.2 To whom are the guiding principles addressed?, 354

17.3 Setting the scene, 355

17.4 The preamble to the Guiding Principles, 360

17.5 The Guiding Principles, 362

17.6 The process of producing the Guiding Principles, 369

17.7 Conclusions, 369

18 Epilog: Anthropology of violent death and forensic humanitarian action, 375
Douglas H. Ubelaker and Roberto C. Parra

18.1 Humanity and its less violent reactions?, 375

18.2 Anthropology applied to forensic sciences and the notion of anthropology of violent death in the humanitarian context, 377

Note 382

References 383

Index, 385
Edited by
Roberto C. Parra is a Peruvian forensic anthropologist and staff member of the technical assistance team of the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). He has worked as an expert witness and as a strategic manager for the application of forensic sciences in various cases, and has over 20 years of professional experience, including victims of plane crashes and shipwrecks, human rights violations during armed conflicts and post-conflict, as well as in everyday cases of common crime. Since 2012, he has developed international missions in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East for the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) of the United Nations.

Douglas H. Ubelaker is a Curator and Senior Scientist at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. He has been a Member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) since 1974, serving as its 2011-2012 President. He is a recipient of many honors, including the Anthropology Award of the Washington Academy of Sciences, the AAFS Lucas Medal, and the FBI Director's Award for Exceptional Public Service.

R. C. Parra, United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO); United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic R; D. H. Ubelaker, Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC