Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationBoston U.
Grant numberGr. 10312
Approve DateApril 13, 2022
Project TitleJafarova, Leyla (Boston U.) "Unknown bodies of knowledge: The case of missing persons in post-war Azerbaijan"
The proposed ethnographic research critically engages with the handling of the case of missing persons and unknown graves within the context of post-war Azerbaijan. International humanitarian actors, such as the ICRC, and the Azerbaijani state are involved in clarifying the whereabouts of missing persons and the identification of human remains. However, the families of missing persons and the larger public are not fully informed about this handling of the case of missing persons. Their knowledge is rather structured by rumors and conspiracies, if not outright secrecy and concealment. My research then explores some of the ways through which the categories of knowable and non-knowable in relation to the fate of missing persons are produced, distributed, and reproduced within particular socio-political contexts. I also demonstrate how humanitarian ‘management of dead bodies’ as a form of disaster response naturalizes the source of these deaths and obscures political violence of nation-states that are responsible for these deaths. Alongside, the focus of this research on the governance of unknown dead bodies as a contested domain between the Azerbaijani state and international humanitarian actors illustrates how nation-states are performing sovereignty in a globalized world.