Dr. Sarah Wagner, George Washington University, and I were recently awarded a Wenner Gren Foundation Grant for our upcoming workshop, “The Gift of Death: Violent Conflict and Obligations of Care,” which will be held next week in Washington DC!
Built around the notion of death as a gift, this workshop will examine the relationships of obligation between the living and the dead during violent conflict and in post-conflict societies. It convenes forensics experts, sociocultural anthropologists, historians and non-governmental experts to consider what the dead and missing give to the living, and how the living receive and reciprocate. Moving beyond the frameworks of human rights and transitional justice, the workshop’s focus on reciprocity redirects attention to the humanistic obligations of care. The aim is to examine the nexus of values, practices, and needs that underwrites attempts to recover and identify victims’ remains; expand our understanding of what constitutes care itself to include theological responses and acts of remembrance; and foster a comparative perspective by considering contemporary and historical missing persons populations and survivor communities from Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe.