Necroviolence

Necroviolence is “violence performed and produced through the specific treatment of corpses that is perceived to be offensive, sacrilegious, or inhumane by the perpetrator, the victim (and her or his cultural group), or both” (De León 2015: 69). Confronting necroviolence with Achille Mbembe’s concept of necropolitics, Jason De León highlights that unlike necropolotics which centers on the killing or letting to live in the name of sovereignty, necroviolence “is specifically about corporeal mistreatment and its generative capacity for violence”  (De León 2015: 69). Corporeal mistreatment has historically and culturally diverse forms and functions, from ancient times to today, with the complete destruction of a corpse as the most complex and durable form of necroviolence. The lack of corpse as an outcome of its complete destruction suspends knowledge, memorialization, grief, as well as obscures perpetrators. As shown by the violent disappearances of political opponents in totalitarian states all over the world, erasure of a body can be conceived as a deeply political act.   De León in his book The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail argues that the abandonment and decomposition of the bodies of migrants in the Sonoran Desert at US-Mexican border are forms of necroviolence tied to Prevention Through Deterrence, territorial sovereignty and US government perception of undocumented border crossers is largely outsourced to nature and the environment. The crucial part of the necroviolence  and suffering is the invisibility. This invisibility is actively produced by strategies of prevention through deterrence and redirection of movement into the perilous terrain.

Literature:  

De León, Jason. 2015. The Land of Open Graves. Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail. Oakland: University of California Press.

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