Virtual Panel: The Politics of Dead Bodies

As part of the Death Marches: Evidence and Memory exhibition events series, we were pleased to host a virtual panel of speakers who discussed the forensic turn in Holocaust and genocide studies. The panel addressed how forensic evidence, such as sites of mass burial and human remains, has informed research and remembrance of genocide, as well as political and ethical dealings with sites of mass atrocity. Speakers discussed forensic archaeology and exhumations of mass graves related to the Spanish Civil War, the Holocaust and the Second World War, and the afterlives of related sites.

About the Speakers

Professor Jean-Marc Dreyfus is a Professor at the University of Manchester and associate researcher at the Centre of History, Sciences-Po Paris. He is a specialist of the economic and diplomatic aspects of the Holocaust and post-war reparations. His research considers other genocides, Jewish history in Europe and exhumations of corpses after mass violence. He also works on looted art in the Holocaust and the unfinished restitution process. Jean-Marc Dreyfus’ current research is three-fold. It considers the question of looted art in this Holocaust and its legacy; he is interested in the personal narrative and the microhistorical approaches of Holocaust victims; he considers the question of the ‘forensic turn’ in Holocaust studies, the ‘forensic turn’ being the studies of human remains’ treatment during and after the genocide, including their uses for commemorative purposes. He is currently writing a monograph on the French mission in search of deportees’ corpses in Germany from 1946 to 1960.

Dr Zuzanna Dziuban is a senior postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Culture Studies and Theatre History of the Austrian Academy of Sciences within the European Research Council’s Globalized Memorial Museums project. She holds a PhD in Cultural Studies from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. She is the author of Foreignness, Homelessness, Loss: Dimensions of Atopia of the Contemporary Cultural Experience (2009, in Polish), and the editor of Mapping the ‘Forensic Turn’: Engagements with Materialities of Mass Death in Holocaust Studies and Beyond (2017). Her current research focuses on material, political and affective afterlives of the former Nazi camps, and the post-Holocaust politics of dead bodies.

Dr Layla Renshaw is Associate Professor of Forensic Science at Kingston University, London. Her research interests include the role of archaeology and material culture in post-conflict investigations, the relationship between human remains and traumatic memory, and public perceptions of forensics. She has conducted extensive fieldwork in Spain on the exhumation of Civil War graves. She is the author of Exhuming Loss: Memory, Materiality and Mass Graves of the Spanish Civil War (2011). Her current research concerns the identification of World War I soldiers on the Western Front, examining the link between genetic testing and memory. In 2019, she was principal investigator on the ISRF-funded group project ‘Citizen Forensics: Materializing the Dead from Grave to Gene’.

Professor Roma Sendyka is Director of the Research Center for Memory Cultures and teaches at the Anthropology of Literature and Cultural Studies Department within the Faculty of Polish Studies, Jagiellonian University, Kraków. Her research specialises in criticism and theory, visual culture studies and memory studies. Professor Sendyka is also currently working on a project on non-sites of memory in Central and Eastern Europe. She is head of the research project ‘Awkward Objects of Genocide: Vernacular Art on the Holocaust and Ethnographic Museums’, developed within the project Transmitting Contentious Cultural Heritages with the Arts: From Intervention to Co-Production (TRACES, Horizon2020, Reflective Society, 2016-2019, led by Professor Klaus Schönberger) and of the team project ‘Uncommemorated Genocide Sites and Their Impact on Collective Memory, Cultural Identity, Ethical Attitudes and Intercultural Relations in Contemporary Poland’ (Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the National Programme for the Development of Humanities, 2016-2019).

Poster image: Exhumation registers of the Wetterfeld concentration camp cemetery, Northern Bavaria. Arolsen Archives.

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Tuesday 15th June 2021


Closed - Watch the recording here


Online Event