Cate A Morley
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationPrinceton U.
Grant numberGr. 10333
Approve DateApril 13, 2022
Project TitleMorley, Cate (Princeton U.) "Partial Remains: Forced Disappearance and Humanitarian Forensic Intervention in Mexico"
Mexico is nearing a grim milestone: 100,000 people forcibly disappeared. If this number defies the imagination of the reader, it is an immediate and visceral reality for the teams of forensic scientists and civilian activists working to recover and identify their remains. My research proposes ethnographic study alongside forensic practitioners at mass graves and in Mexico’s most over-burdened morgues, in order to explore the ethical, social and political contours of forensic practice. In particular, my research asks how bones are read, contextualized, and cared for by forensic anthropologists working amid Mexico’s unfolding crisis of forced disappearance. I seek to articulate and expand their efforts through attention to the material dimensions of their practice, querying how forensic intervention is shaped by theological, ecological and political imaginaries. In so doing my investigation will, perhaps unexpectedly, fold recent anthropological explorations of state terror, forensic evidentiary practices, and materiality back into longstanding traditions of anthropological research on death and the state.