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Accepted Paper:

Forensic Biodata and Scenes of Extraction: (Re)Biologizing Genocide in Guatemala  
Silvia Posocco (Birkbeck, University of London)

Paper short abstract:

Focusing on the making of biodata in forensic collections and databases established in the aftermath of genocidal violence in Guatemala, this paper explores how forensic biomaterials, bioinformation and biodata are tied to processes that (re)biologize genocide and (re)naturalize race and gender.

Paper long abstract:

The creation of biorepositories and the generation of biodata are tied to future-oriented projects which seek to collect, index and govern forms of life. Whilst the rationales for such ventures are diverse, they are often grounded in liberal values and visions of progress that promise improved health, greater equity or justice. In medical and juridical contexts, for example, notions of improvement and change are entangled with moral positionalities and aspirations for genomic futures of deracialization and universal health which are predicated on knowledge derived from biomaterials. Forensic biorepositories established in the aftermath of atrocities provide an apt entry point into the making of biodata collections and the assumptions, logics and aspirations that underpin them. Biorepositories acquire visibility in public life in conjunction with immediate and long-term emergencies and are bound up with humanitarian logics and interventions, as public appeals for biological samples are often tied to campaigns that purport to support communities in crisis. In this paper, I examine the making of biodata – as biomaterials and bioinformation assemblages – in forensic collections and databases established in the aftermath of genocidal violence in Guatemala. Through a focus on forensic anthropology campaigns geared towards the collection of biological samples, the paper argues that the forensic biodata that emerges through forensic anthropology and forensic science expertise and practice, mark shifts in the material-semiotic constitution of genocide. Forensic biomaterials, bioinformation and biodata are entangled in knowledge practices and socio-technical operations that result in (re)biologizing genocide, as well as in (re)naturalizing race and gender.

Panel P05a
Plastic Data – bioinformation, coloniality and the promise of data futures
  Session 1 Thursday 9 June, 2022, -