Contents and Abstracts1The Stakeholders in International Forensic Investigations chapter abstractThis chapter analyzes the politics of mass graves through the lens of three major stakeholders: courts and war crimes tribunals, transitional governments, and families of the missing. It argues for the necessity of an international perspective based on common dynamics around mass gravesites, the global circulation of forensic experts, and the construction of ethics in the field. Mid-1990s exhumations in Bosnia and Kosovo are described as a formative controversy pitting the pressure to collect evidence quickly against the needs of families of the missing. The chapter also looks at two ways of framing the purposes of forensic investigations and the needs of stakeholders: creating a historical record backed by science and building capacity in post-conflict nations. The chapter concludes with a look at the process of identifying Chile's disappeared, which illustrates how scientific and political realities can complicate simple narratives of collective memory and capacity-building. 2The Politics of Grief chapter abstractAn early and enduring objection to mass grave exhumation is that in offering closure to individuals, it undercuts political demands for justice. This perspective was voiced most famously by some of Argentina's famous human rights activists, the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, whose opposing views on exhumation eventually fueled a schism in their ranks. This chapter argues that the Madres' views must be understood within the context of Argentina's particular transitional justice history, as well as for their subsequent impact on families of the missing globally. In contrast to other scholarship, the chapter pays equal attention to the pro-exhumation perspective of the Linea Fundadora group of Madres, generally written off as more straightforward and less radical than their peers. Their stance, it argues, is founded on compelling views of the political impact of exhumations, duties to the children of the disappeared, and the care of the dead. 3Forensics of the Sacred chapter abstractThis chapter examines another important reason some mass graves have not been exhumed: the belief that graves and dead bodies are sacred, and that to disturb them is a desecration. Using halted exhumations of Holocaust-era graves of Jews in Jedwabne, Poland and of massacred refugees in Congo as examples, it argues that the dynamics at these gravesites should not be viewed as clashes between international justice and local culture because the interests fueling religious objections are neither exclusively local nor solely religious. The chapter looks at recommendations that have been provided to forensic teams for handling these highly charged situations, and finds that they share a longstanding discomfort-present since the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights-with how the idea of the sacred interacts with the language and imperatives of human rights in both theory and practice. 4Dead to Rights chapter abstractThe rights of the dead, rarely invoked by forensic experts, are a last frontier for a field that has already embraced new human rights to truth, knowledge, and even mourning. Yet this frontier of human rights is essential to understanding forensic teams as political communities, the ways their successes and failures are measured, and what role the dead themselves play in the global project of exhumation. This chapter argues that violence against the dead, unlike that directed towards the living, may render them permanently rightless-and that human rights are thus a poor way to understand what exhumation and identification do for the dead. The chapter begins a more modest, concrete description of the changes forensic experts make to dead bodies by detailing the three major types of violence inflicted upon the bodies in mass graves-destruction of identity, placement in an unchosen location, and deprivation of care.
Adam Rosenblatt teaches Peace, Justice, and Human Rights at Haverford College.