Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The dead and their public. Memory campaigns, issue networks and the role of the archaeologist in the excavation of mass graves

  • Layla Renshaw

Abstract

This contribution will consider how the practice of archaeology ‘brings a public into being’. Drawing on examples of the excavation of mass graves from the Spanish Civil War and the First World War, particularly those cases resulting from activism on the part of memory campaign groups, this paper considers how the act of excavation can serve as a catalyst for members of the public to coalesce and deliberate the complex and far-reaching questions associated with the post-mortem treatment and commemoration of the dead. The necessity to fulfil the aims of particular constituencies, such as the relatives of the dead, or the need to maintain a position of impartiality, may militate against the archaeologist's full intellectual engagement with these questions, resulting in the archaeologist's role being defined primarily by their technical or practical contribution. The concept of the issue network is explored as a way to understand the formation of memory campaigns and the archaeologist's relationship with the public. The idea of the network underlines the potential for the archaeologist to make an intellectual contribution that develops and democratizes the debate surrounding an excavation, even if their position is contested, and so bring a wider public into being.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Layla Renshaw, Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames, UK. Email: l.renshaw@kingston.ac.uk.

References

Hide All
Blair, C., Balthrop, V.W. and Michel, N., 2011: The arguments of the tombs of the unknown. Relationality and national legitimation, Argumentation 25 (4), 449–68.
Castells, M., 2004: The power of identity. Oxford.
Castells, M., 2008: The new public sphere. Global civil society, communication networks, and global governance, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 616, 7893.
Cobb, P., 2007: Fromelles 1916. Stroud.
Corfield, R., 2009: Don't forget me, cobber. The Battle of Fromelles, Victoria.
Fernández de Mata, F., 2010: The rupture of the world and the conflicts of memory, in Jerez-Farrán, C. and Amago, S. (eds), Uneathing Franco's legacy. Mass graves and the recovery of historical memory in Spain, Notre Dame.
Ferrándiz, F., 2006: The return of Civil War ghosts. The ethnography of exhumations in contemporary Spain, Anthropology today 22 (3), 712.
Ferrándiz, F., and Baer, A., 2008: Digital memory. The visual recording of mass grave exhumations in contemporary Spain. Forum, Qualitative Social Research 9 (3), Article 35.
Gassiot Ballbé, E., and Steadman, D.W., 2008: The political, social and scientific contexts of archaeological investigations of mass graves in Spain, Archaeologies 4 (3), 429–44.
González-Ruibal, A., 2007: Making things public. Archaeologies of the Spanish Civil War, Public archaeology 6 (4), 203–26.
Holland, M.M., and Parsons, T.J., 1999: Mitochondrial DNA sequence analysis. Validation and use for forensic casework, Forensic science review 11 (21), 2250.
Laqueur, T.W., 1996: Names, bodies and the anxiety of erasure, in Schatzki, T. and Natter, W. (eds), The social and political body, New York, 123–44.
Leach Scully, J., and Woodward, R., 2012: Naming the unknown of Fromelles. DNA profiling, ethics and the identification of First World War bodies. Journal of war and cultural studies 5 (1), 5972.
Lindsay, P., 2008: Fromelles. Australia's darkest day and the dramatic discovery of our fallen World War One diggers, Prahran.
Loe, L., 2010: Remembering Fromelles, British archaeology, 111 (March–April), 3641.
Marres, N., 2005: Issues spark a public into being. A key but often forgotten point of the Lippmann–Dewey debate, in Latour, B. and Weibel, P. (eds), Making things public. Atmospheres of democracy, Cambridge, MA, 208–17.
Marres, N., 2006: Net-work is format work. Issue networks and the sites of civil society politics, in Dean, J., Anderson, J. and Lovink, G. (eds), Reformatting politics. Information technology and global civil society, London. 319.
Marres, N., and Lezaun, J., 2011: Materials and devices of the public. An introduction, Economy and society 40 (4), 489509.
Preston, P., 2012: The Spanish holocaust. Inquisition and extermination in twentieth-century Spain, London.
Renshaw, L., 2010a: Missing bodies near-at-hand, in Bille, M., Hastrup, F. and Flohr Soerensen, T. (eds), An anthropology of absence. Materializations of transcendence and loss, New York, 4562.
Renshaw, L., 2010b: The scientific and affective identification of Republican civilian victims from the Spanish Civil War, Journal of material culture 15 (4), 449–63.
Renshaw, L., 2011: Exhuming loss. Memory, materiality and mass graves of the Spanish Civil War, Walnut Creek, CA.
Saunders, R., 2002: Tell the truth. The archaeology of human rights abuses in Guatemala and the former Yugoslavia, in Schofield, J., Johnson, W.G. and Beck, C.M. (eds), Matériel culture. The archaeology of twentieth century conflict. London.
Silva, E., and Macías, S., 2003: Las Fosas de Franco. Los Republicanos que el Dictador Déjo en las Cunetas. Madrid.
Steele, C., 2008: Archaeology and the forensic investigation of recent mass graves. Ethical issues for a new practice of archaeology, Archaeologies 4 (3), 414–28.
Summers, J., 2010: Remembering Fromelles. A new cemetery for a new century, Maidenhead.
Verdery, K., 1999: The political lives of dead bodies. Reburial and postsocialist change, New York.
Wagner, S.E., 2008: To know where he lies. DNA technology and the search for Srebrenica's missing, Berkeley.
Webmoor, T., 2007: What about ‘one more turn after the social’ in archaeological reasoning? Taking things seriously, World archaeology 39 (4), 563–78.
Whitford, T., and Pollard, T., 2009: For duty done. A WWI military medallion recovered from the mass grave site at Fomelles, northern France, Journal of conflict archaeology 5 (1), 201–29.

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed