ROBBEN, Antonius (editor) (2018). A Companion to the Anthropology of Death

A thought-provoking examination of death, dying, and the afterlife

Prominent scholars present their most recent work about mortuary rituals, grief and mourning, genocide, cyclical processes of life and death, biomedical developments, and the materiality of human corpses in this unique and illuminating book. Interrogating our most common practices surrounding death, the authors ask such questions as: How does the state wrest away control over the dead from bereaved relatives? Why do many mourners refuse to cut their emotional ties to the dead and nurture lasting bonds? Is death a final condition or can human remains acquire agency? The book is a refreshing reassessment of these issues and practices, a source of theoretical inspiration in the study of death.

With contributions written by an international team of experts in their fields, A Companion to the Anthropology of Death is presented in six parts and covers such subjects as: Governing the Dead in Guatemala; After Death Communications (ADCs) in North America; Cryonic Suspension in the Secular Age; Blood and Organ Donation in China; The Fragility of Biomedicine; and more. A Companion to the Anthropology of Death is a comprehensive and accessible volume and an ideal resource for senior undergraduate and graduate students in courses such as Anthropology of Death, Medical Anthropology, Anthropology of Violence, Anthropology of the Body, and Political Anthropology.

  • Written by leading international scholars in their fields
  • A comprehensive survey of the most recent empirical research in the anthropology of death
  • A fundamental critique of the early 20th century founding fathers of the anthropology of death
  • Cross-cultural texts from tribal and industrial societies
  • The collection is of interest to anyone concerned with the consequences of the state and massive violence on life and death

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Antonius C. G. M. Robben;

Antonius C. G. M. Robben is Professor of Anthropology at Utrecht University, The Netherlands, and past President of The Netherlands Society of Anthropology. His most recent edited books include Necropolitics: Mass Graves and Exhumations in the Age of Human Rights (2017) and the second edition of Death, Mourning, and Burial: A Cross-Cultural Reader (Wiley Blackwell, 2017). He is also the author of the monograph Argentina Betrayed: Memory, Mourning, and Accountability (2018).


DUTRÉNIT, Silvia (coord.) (2018) Perforando la impunidad. Historia reciente de los equipos de antropología forense en América Latina.

The recent pasts were crossed by processes of repression and state violence over societies; they constitute a reference space for different generations and witnesses. This space is endowed by traumatic events that show socially filtered terror, with its inheritance of pain and crimes committed. While national experiences show a lot of distance from each other, they also illustrate the diversity of violent practices and conflicts. The common legacy is an accumulation of human rights violations that have an impact on social experiences. Since the mid 1980s, different types of transitions to democracy have begun in some countries. Respect for the rights of people in their relationship with public authorities began to be seen as an urgent issue, particularly in the face of the recurrent demand for truth and justice. Its development has been marked by marches and countermarches in terms of how to deal with the state of impunity inherited. On this past that is present, the forensic anthropology teams (EAF – in spanish) intervene and interact. They do so with a comprehensive humanistic social perspective, committed, at the same time with a scientific, methodological and instrumental way. The successful result of their work constitutes an excellent way of the historical narrative, at the same time that it has a restorative value for the victims and another legal value, for the compliance of the right to the truth. Who approaches and navigates in this book finds the evolution of these teams, their main characteristics, milestones and challenges in the experiences of Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico and Uruguay. Its content, focused on these emblematic actors of the framework of recent history, was in charge of Ana Buriano, Silvia Dutrénit, Claudia Rangel, Evangelina Sánchez, Octavio Nadal, Ricardo Sáenz, César Tcach and Isabel Torres, who are part of an interdisciplinary group of Latin American academics.

DZIUBAN, Zuzanna (2017) Mapping the “Forensic Turn”: Engagements with Materialities of Mass Death in Holocaust Studies and Beyond



During recent decades, forensic investigation has become a standard response to the reality of mass graves resulting from genocides and various forms of political violence. From Argentina to Rwanda, from former Yugoslavia to Poland, the search for the sites of mass burial, the application of archaeological and forensic practices, and the use of advanced technologies to collect and analyse evidence have all played a major role in transforming former landscapes of violence into scenes of crime. Yet truth-finding is not the only driving force behind forensic investigations performed at the spaces marked by a difficult past: the issues of politics and justice are at stake, as are the dynamics of memory and mourning and of the future of post-conflict societies, framed through the prism of the relationships between the dead and the living. The diagnoses of the ‘forensic turn’ therefore open up a complex terrain shaped by the interplay of scientific protocols, political interest, ethical sensitivities, and materialities of mass death – bringing about a proliferation of practices and counter-practices, discourses and counterdiscourses, imageries and counter-imageries. Building upon this recognition, this book asks how the turn towards forensics both as a standardized practice in the search for and identification of bodies, as a paradigm shift in remembrance and as an emergent cultural sensitivity, extends beyond the sites where forensic science operates, and transforms the fields of social and human sciences, political activism, popular imagination, and art.
Born out of debates held during the international workshop Forensic Turn in Holocaust Studies at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute in June 2015, this book gathers contributions investigating theoretical, methodological, political and practical implications of the ‘forensic turn’ within and well beyond the (inter)disciplinary realm of Holocaust studies.

Zuzanna Dziuban;

Dr. Zuzanna Dziuban es investigadora postdoctoral en la Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (dentro del proyecto iC-ACCESS HERA project)

ROJAS-PEREZ, Isaias (2017) Mourning Remains State Atrocity, Exhumations, and Governing the Disappeared in Peru’s Postwar Andes




Mourning Remains examines the attempts to find, recover, and identify the bodies of Peruvians who were disappeared during the 1980s and 1990s counterinsurgency campaign in Peru’s central southern Andes. Isaias Rojas-Perez explores the lives and political engagement of elderly Quechua mothers as they attempt to mourn and seek recognition for their kin.
Of the estimated 16,000 Peruvians disappeared during the conflict, only the bodies of 3,202 victims have been located, and only 1,833 identified. The rest remain unknown or unfound, scattered across the country and often shattered beyond recognition. Rojas-Perez examines how, in the face of the state’s failure to account for their missing dead, the mothers rearrange senses of community, belonging, authority, and the human to bring the disappeared back into being through everyday practices of mourning and memorialization. Mourning Remains reveals how collective mourning becomes a political escape from the state’s project of governing past death and how the dead can help secure the future of the body politic.


Isaias Rojas-Perez;

Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Newark.



SUMMER COURSE UPV-EHU “Massive violence, mass graves and human rights. Perspectives from the forensic and social sciences”


“Massive violence, mass graves and human rights. Perspectives from the forensic and social sciences”


UPV-EHU Summer Courses, under the direction of Francisco Etxeberria: Mass violence, mass graves and human rights. Perspectives from the forensic and social sciences.


This course aims to link the technical aspects of the forensic and social sciences as essential elements for the obtaining of useful evidence for the judicial authorities. Specifically, will be exposed the validity of what is being done for the institutions regarding exhumations of victims of the Civil War.




The course will be a continuation of the one held in 2015 under the title “Contributions of Forensic Anthropology in the framework of Human Rights and Humanitarian Action”.

This course aims to link the technical aspects of the forensic and social sciences as essential elements for the obtaining of useful evidence for the judicial authorities. Specifically, will be exposed the validity of what is being done for the institutions regarding exhumations of victims of the Civil War.

It is intended to discuss a topic in which a social sector demands more institutional actions.




09:00 – 09:15

Reception ansubmission of documentation

09:15 – 10:30

“Current state of exhumations of the Civil War: contributions to human rights”

  • Francisco Etxeberria Gabilondo UPV/EHU – Professor of Forensic Medicine
10:30 – 10:45


10:45 – 12:00

“International Protocols on Exhumations: The Right to Justice”

  • Laura Pego Otero Basque Institute of Criminology, UPV/EHU – Lawyer and researcher
12:00 – 12:15


12:15 – 13:30

“The role of the criminologist in the configuration the evidences on exhumations and human rights”

  • Rakel Pérez Basque Institute of Criminology, UPV/EHU – Criminologist and researcher


09:00 – 10:00

“The impact of global human rights on Spanish exhumations.”

  • Francisco Ferrándiz Martín Spanish National Research Council –  Senior researcher
10:00 – 11:00

“The Spanish Justice in front of the crimes of the Franco regime and the International Jurisdiction. The Amnesty Act of 1977 “

  • Jacinto Lara Bonilla Association Pro Human Rights of Spain—JACINTO lARA BONILLA – Lawyer of CEAQUA, State Coordinator of Support to the Querella Argentina, President de la APDHE
11:00 – 11:30


11:30 – 12:30

“Procedural status of the Querella Argentina about the victims of the Franco regime”

  • Ana Messuti CEAQUA para la querella de Argentina – Jurist and lawyer
12:30 – 13:30

“The victims of Francoism and its protection in front of the Spanish courts of justice: procedural and substantive issues”

  • Patxi Etxeberria Guridi UPV/EHU – Professor of Procedural Law
  • Enara Garro Carrera UPV/EHU – Professor of Criminal Law (acred.)


09:00 – 13:00

“Round Table of Historical Memory Associations: Institutions in the face of scientific-social evidence and human rights”

  • Chato Galante Political prisoner of the Franco regime and member of the Association “La Comuna” of Madrid
  • Josu Ibargutxi San Pedro    -Political prisoner of the Franco regime, member of “Goldatu Elkartea” and Coordinator of the Basque Platform against the crimes of Franco
  • Emilio Silva   – Member of the Asociación para la Recuperación de la memoria Histórica
16:00 – 19:00

Visit to the Kattintxiki grave in Oiartzun and explanation in the town hall of Oiartzun


SIMIć, Olivera (2014) Surviving Peace. A political memoir

 – A deeply human narrative set within the growing body of feminist writings on war – (Kathleen Barry)

How do you pick up the pieces after your life is shattered by war? How do you continue living when your country no longer exists, your language is no longer spoken and your family is divided, not just by distance but by politics too? What happens when your old identity is taken from you and a new one imposed, one that you never asked for?

When Olivera Simić was seven years old, President Tito died. Old divisions re-emerged as bitter ethnic conflicts unfolded. War arrived in 1992. People were no longer Yugoslavs but Serbs, Croatians, Bosniaks. Old friends became enemies overnight.

In this heartfelt account of life before, during and after the Bosnian War and the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, Simić talks of her transition from peace to war and back again. She shows how she found the determination to build a new life when the old one was irretrievable.

Traversing four continents, she takes us on her winding journey from Bosnia to Australia, revealing the complex challenges of adjusting to life in a new country and exposing the harsh reality of the post-traumatic stress that accompanies her.

Simić strives to find the balance between wanting to move on to a different future and a pressing need to look back at a past that won’t go away. The pull of her homeland remains irresistible despite it being ravaged by destruction, and her exposure of the war crimes that took place there means she is labelled both a ‘traitor’ and a ‘truth seeker’.

Surviving Peace is one woman’s story of courage that echoes the stories of millions of people whose lives have been displaced by war. As we still face a world rife with armed conflict, this book is a timely reminder that once the last gunshot has been fired and the last bomb dropped, the new challenge of surviving peace begins.


Olivera Simić:

Olivera Simić is a feminist, human rights activist and academic at the Griffith Law School, Australia. Originally from the former Yugoslavia, Dr Simić has lived and studied in Eastern and Western Europe, the USA and South America. She has published one monograph and three co-edited collections, book chapters, journal articles and personal narratives. She completed a Doctorate of Law at the University of Melbourne in 2011. She now teaches international law and transitional justice at Griffith Law School and lives in Brisbane. In 2013 she was a nominee for the Penny Pether Prize for Scholarship in Law, Literature and the Humanities, and won the Peace Women Award from Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF, Australian branch).



PODCAST: Olivera in conversation at the Outspoken Literary Festival held at Maleny, NSW


Table of Contents: 

Acknowledgements ix

Map A Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) xi

Map B Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) xii

Preface The Past Lives On 1

Chapter One Journeying Through War and Peace 8

Chapter Two Traitor or Truth Seeker? 26

Moral Responsibility 35

The Masculinity of War 38

Truth Seekers 44

Paying a High Price 45

How to Face the Past? 52

Chapter Three Moving From War to Peace 59

The NATO Bombings 60

Life as a Refugee 65

Building Peace 70

Where are you From? 75

Chapter Four The Past is the Present 81

Chapter Five Victims and Survivors 97

From One Disaster to Another 103

Facing the Past Begins 113

Chapter Six Between Remembering and Forgetting 126

Minefields 134

Conflicting War Memories 138

Epilogue Troubled Homeland 148

Appendix Timeline of Yugoslavia’s Disintegration 161

Glossary 164

Bibliography 167

Index 178




The Memory of the Bones

Script and filmmaking: Facundo Beraudi

“Hundreds of the victims’ relatives cling to hope by placing their trust in the Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense (EAAF “Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team”), which —for 30 years now— has been recovering and identifying the remains of disappeared people in Argentina and in more than thirty countries. This quest cannot be put at an end but by giving back the remains to the relatives, so they may try to close some open wounds.”

To know more 


Objetivo: Exhumar a Franco EITB

Equipo de redacción – TV EITB
March 30, 2017

The program investigates the difficulties  of families to recover the bodies of their relatives from the Valle de los Caídos.


The Bones Reader II: The Civil War Graves

“Bringing to light the bones that were below earth and closing the story of the people who disappeared during the Civil War is the goal of the program. The forensic anthroplogist Paco Etxeberria and the journalist Dani Álvarez go to the chasms of Gaztelu and Otsaportilo.”


CONGRAM, Derek (2016) Missing Persons Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the Disappeared


Uniting the voices of twenty-two experts from academic, government, and civil sectors who study and help search for missing persons in Canada and internationally, Derek Congram’s new collection responds to growing public awareness of persons who have disappeared due to armed conflict, repressive regimes, criminal behaviour, and racist and colonial policies towards Indigenous persons and minority populations.


Missing Persons centres its attention on the people who seek others, and explores how scientists, law-enforcement agents, and researchers serve and relate to those who miss. This multidisciplinary volume both attends to the varied circumstances of disappearance and illustrates how disparate contexts connect, making for a valuable comparative resource in criminology and forensic anthropology, science, and psychology classrooms.


Edited by: Canadian Scholars’ Press

Derek Congram

Derek Congram is a Research Associate and Lecturer at the University of Toronto and an independent forensic consultant. As an anthropologist and archaeologist, he has worked in 20 countries for families of missing persons, universities, governments, and international organizations, including the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.