Accepted Paper:

Missing persons, forensics and posthumous rights: between Peru and Somaliland  

Authors:

Franco Mora (Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team)
Jose Baraybar (Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team (EPAF))

Paper short abstract:

Dwelling on the work of the Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team in Peru and Somaliland, this paper explores the role of forensic anthropology in supporting the re-acquisition of the rights of the missing –the so-called posthumous rights- and the production of more fact-based memory.

Paper long abstract:

It is argued that the process under which persons become victims of forced disappearance is deliberately construed through abuses that culminate with death. Under this perspective victimhood is an acquired condition with prevalence among those whose rights as citizens were suppressed or hindered from the outset by various factors and in different contexts.

This paper explores the role of forensic anthropology in determining the whereabouts of missing persons from a holistic rather than from a purely discursive perspective. It addresses both the consequences as well as the causes of marginalization and exclusion that made possible for those people to become victims in the first place. Two main subjects are discussed, one is the enforcement of so-called posthumous rights of the missing, or their right to be exhumed, identified and re-buried like humans even if the process by which they became victims was rather [in]human. We discuss how such process initiates a cycle of re-citizenizing or re-acquisition of the rights taken to transform him/her into a victim. The second subject relates to the role of forensic anthropology in the production of more fact-based memory promoting transactions between incontrovertible evidence and imagined facts that also assist in shaping local narratives and in certain contexts may promote a less contentious coexistence, en lieu of reconciliation.

In order to illustrate these arguments we dwell on the work of the Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team (EPAF) in Peru and Somaliland.

Panel P045
Missing persons, unidentified bodies: addressing absences and negotiating identifications