To Know Where He Lies

To Know Where He Lies: DNA Technology and the Search for Srebrenica’s Missing

Sarah E. Wagner
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Pages: 352
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pq0db
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  • Book Info
    To Know Where He Lies
    Book Description:

    In the aftermath of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, the discovery of unmarked mass graves revealed Europe's worst atrocity since World War II: the genocide in the UN "safe area" of Srebrenica.To Know Where He Liesprovides a powerful account of the innovative genetic technology developed to identify the eight thousand Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) men and boys found in those graves and elsewhere, demonstrating how memory, imagination, and science come together to recover identities lost to genocide. Sarah E. Wagner explores technology's import across several areas of postwar Bosnian society-for families of the missing, the Srebrenica community, the Bosnian political leadership (including Serb and Muslim), and international aims of social repair-probing the meaning of absence itself.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94262-2
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Note on Pronunciation
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. Map of Bosnia and Herzegovina
    (pp. xix-xx)
  8. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    On July 11, 2003, the cemetery of the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Center filled with people in anticipation of the burial of 282 recently identified victims of the Srebrenica massacre. Most attendees had traveled a long and circuitous journey to arrive there that day. Crossing borders and, in some cases, time zones, they had come together to commemorate an act of physical and social devastation, the worst massacre to occur in Europe since World War II. But their presence also reflected another and altogether different achievement: the results of an innovative DNA-based identification technology that had reassembled bodies and for the first...

  9. CHAPTER 1 The Fall of Srebrenica
    (pp. 21-57)

    If inaction characterized the international community’s response to the events of July 1995, then documenting the story of the enclave and its fall, its mass graves, and its missing has become a principal means of redressing the failure to act. There are the official governmental reckonings: the United Nations Report of the Secretary General pursuant to General Assembly resolution 53/35 (1999), the report commissioned by the French National Assembly (Assemblée nationale 2001), and the Dutch Parliament–commissioned report of the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (Nederlands Instituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie [NIOD] 2002). In addition to detailing the Bosnian Serb forces’ crimes,...

  10. CHAPTER 2 The People and Place of Postwar Srebrenica
    (pp. 58-81)

    More than a decade after the fall of the enclave, Srebrenica remains a loaded term for Bosnians and for other people touched by the events of July 1995, including many who never set foot in the country, let alone the “Silver City,”¹ before the violence broke out in the spring of 1992. On one level, Srebrenica — the UN safe area — has come to represent the worst instance of the war’s collective violence and the ineptitude of the international community to protect the vulnerable. On another, Srebrenica as a postwar place testifies to the splintering, devastating effects of loss....

  11. CHAPTER 3 A Technological Innovation
    (pp. 82-122)

    From the end of the war in December 1995 to November 2001, fewer than 1 percent of Srebrenica’s missing were identified.¹ By the tenth anniversary of the genocide, the mortal remains of 1,938 individuals—nearly 25 percent of the total missing—had been identified and buried in the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Center.² The breakthrough in the identification process came on November 16, 2001, when DNA laboratory technicians at the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) successfully extracted and matched the genetic profiles from the mortal remains of a sixteen-year-old boy and the blood samples of his surviving family members. Rijad Konjhodžić,...

  12. CHAPTER 4 Memory at Work
    (pp. 123-150)

    In the July 2000 issue ofBilten Srebrenica, the Women of Srebrenica’s publication, there is a black-and-white photograph of a woman holding up what look to be the tattered remains of a jacket and pants. The caption reads, “Mother Đemila Recently Found the Mortal Remains of Her Two Sons Sulja and Sadik.”¹ Đemila’s story was an unusual one. Neighbors of hers had returned to their prewar property and in the process of clearing the neglected land, they came across the remains of eighteen victims from the enclave, including those of two of Đemila’s three missing sons. While it was common...

  13. CHAPTER 5 Where Memory and Imagination Meet
    (pp. 151-184)

    On August 2, 2001, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia convicted Bosnian Serb Army general Radislav Krstić of genocide. The first (and only, to date) such conviction in the history of the international court, the successful prosecution of the Drina Corps general finally recognized through legal instruments the level and nature of the crimes committed against the people of the Srebrenica enclave.¹ The decision officially legitimized the application of the termgenocideto the Srebrenica case, and thus became a major impetus for Bosnian Serb officials to confront the charge and, albeit in piecemeal public statements, begin to...

  14. CHAPTER 6 Return to Potočari
    (pp. 185-212)

    Over dinner one evening in Sarajevo I spoke with a former classmate and some of his international friends about the July 11 commemoration ceremony at the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Center. One person present at the dinner was working at that time as a high-ranking administrator in a large international aid organization’s headquarters in Sarajevo. Hearing that I was conducting research on the identification of Srebrenica’s missing, he asked me if I didn’t think the whole ceremony was a “circus.” In his view, the families were being used and, as far as he could tell, they appeared to be conscious, willing participants...

  15. CHAPTER 7 ‘That you see, that you know, that you remember’
    (pp. 213-244)

    Strictly speaking, the graves at Potočari are not destinations of pilgrimage, but the journey behind and beyond them helps us to understand why identifying Srebrenica’s missing is so meaningful to so many people. In examining the processes of innovation and recognition in the past several chapters, I have attempted to unfold the journey leading up to this final place, the graves in the cemetery at the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Center. In this chapter I turn to the events of commemoration and burial to explore how names etched onto wooden and stone markers remind the present of those absent, drawing people into...

  16. CHAPTER 8 Technology of Repair
    (pp. 245-265)

    On October 12, 2001, as the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) was on the verge of completing its first DNA-based identification, three staff members boarded a plane from Bosnia to New York City at the invitation of the National Institute of Justice.¹ In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, efforts had begun to identify mortal remains recovered from the ruins of the World Trade Center towers, the area which soon became known as “Ground Zero.” Edwin Huffine, Adnan Rizvić, and Fuad Suljetović were sent as ICMP’s delegates, traveling to the United States to provide input for the Kinship...

  17. Epilogue
    (pp. 266-270)

    Reattaching individual identity onto nameless physical bodies is a dynamic and multivalent process. In the case of Srebrenica, identifying the missing 8,000 Bosniak men and boys killed in the enclave has meant different things to different people in postwar Bosnia. Aims and expectations pinned to the innovative biotechnology do not always align and, indeed, are frequently at odds. Bosniak and Bosnian Serb divergent responses to the slowly filling cemetery in Potočari illustrate how the technology’s results can deepen communal divisions at the same time as they reconstitute physical and social beings. And as the Bosnian technology has gone on to...

  18. Notes
    (pp. 271-300)
  19. References
    (pp. 301-320)
  20. Index
    (pp. 321-330)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 331-331)