In this article we consider the afterlife of the remains of unidentified migrants who have died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Albania and North Africa to Italy. Drawing on insights from long term, multi-sited field research, we outline paths taken by human remains and consider their multiple agencies and distributed personhood through the relational modalities with which they are symbolically and materially engaged at different scales of significance. The rising number of migrant deaths related to international crossings worldwide, especially in the Mediterranean, has stimulated a large body of scholarship, which generally relies upon a hermeneutics of secular transitional justice and fraternal transnationalism. We explore an alternative approach by focusing on the material and ritual afterlife of unidentified human remains at sea, examining the effects they have on their hosting environment. The treatment of dead strangers (across the double threshold constituted by the passage from life to death on the one hand, and the rupture of exile on the other) raises new questions for the anthropology of death. We offer an interpretation of both ad hoc and organised recovery operations and mortuary practices, including forensic identification procedures, and collective and single burials of migrant dead, as acts of hospitality. Hosting the dead operates at different scales : it takes the politically charged form of memorialisation at the levels of the state and the local community ; however, while remembrance practices for dead strangers emphasise the latter’s status as a collective category, forensic technologies of remembrance are directed towards the reconstruction of (in)dividual personhood. These ritual and technological processes of memorialisation and re-attachment together awaken ghosts of Italian fascism and colonialism.

Accueillir les morts. Pratiques d’identification et d’inhumation des corps de migrants en Italie / Grotti, Vanessa; Brightman, Marc. - In: L'HOMME. - ISSN 0439-4216. - ELETTRONICO. - 231-232:(2019), pp. 227-260. [10.4000/lhomme.35591]

Accueillir les morts. Pratiques d’identification et d’inhumation des corps de migrants en Italie

Grotti, Vanessa;Brightman, Marc
2019

Abstract

In this article we consider the afterlife of the remains of unidentified migrants who have died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Albania and North Africa to Italy. Drawing on insights from long term, multi-sited field research, we outline paths taken by human remains and consider their multiple agencies and distributed personhood through the relational modalities with which they are symbolically and materially engaged at different scales of significance. The rising number of migrant deaths related to international crossings worldwide, especially in the Mediterranean, has stimulated a large body of scholarship, which generally relies upon a hermeneutics of secular transitional justice and fraternal transnationalism. We explore an alternative approach by focusing on the material and ritual afterlife of unidentified human remains at sea, examining the effects they have on their hosting environment. The treatment of dead strangers (across the double threshold constituted by the passage from life to death on the one hand, and the rupture of exile on the other) raises new questions for the anthropology of death. We offer an interpretation of both ad hoc and organised recovery operations and mortuary practices, including forensic identification procedures, and collective and single burials of migrant dead, as acts of hospitality. Hosting the dead operates at different scales : it takes the politically charged form of memorialisation at the levels of the state and the local community ; however, while remembrance practices for dead strangers emphasise the latter’s status as a collective category, forensic technologies of remembrance are directed towards the reconstruction of (in)dividual personhood. These ritual and technological processes of memorialisation and re-attachment together awaken ghosts of Italian fascism and colonialism.
2019
Accueillir les morts. Pratiques d’identification et d’inhumation des corps de migrants en Italie / Grotti, Vanessa; Brightman, Marc. - In: L'HOMME. - ISSN 0439-4216. - ELETTRONICO. - 231-232:(2019), pp. 227-260. [10.4000/lhomme.35591]
Grotti, Vanessa; Brightman, Marc
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/714311
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