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Understanding Relationship Forensics Robert Levey Catelas1 has introduced a The Catelas solution is built on the notion that white collar crime is becoming rather, concentrates on people and relationships first, communications activity. Catelas: Next-Generation 'Relationship Forensics' Software . Why Do 'Cool Kids ' Choose Ruby or PHP to Build Websites Instead of Java?. Catelas Relationship Forensics leverages Social Network Analysis people know each other and the levels of activity throughout networks.
This analysis, however, raises a further question of how and why family members have come to see the work of scientists as a form of physical and political care of the dead.
Turning in the second section to the historical development of forensic DNA in Argentina, where mothers and grandmothers searched, advocated for, and created the first viable human rights application of genetics, I argue that historical configurations matter for the final configuration of a technology. I show the ways in which kinship became embedded in forensic praxis through the use of kinship charts, the structure of DNA databanks, the statistical methodology of identification, and the advocacy practices of scientists and families.
FFoorreennssiicc IIddeennttiiffiiccaattiioonn aanndd TThhee PPoolliittiiccaall C Caarree ooff tthhee D Diissaappppeeaarreedd Located in the remnants of a once luxurious upper-class house in a crumbling housing-turned-business zone of Guatemala City, the DNA laboratory of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation was visually stunning in contrast with the dilapidated neighborhood.
The entrance was guarded by two private police officers carrying large machine guns. A video intercom system allowed access to the lobby, where a secretary sat behind bullet-proof, opaque glass—a set-up common in a city characterized by some of the highest levels of violence in the world.
Access to the laboratory was carefully controlled through a biometric security system. Each time a worker entered or left the space, they were required to enter a code and scan their thumbprint to open the otherwise electronically locked door.
Across the street a small park stood empty, the one slide rusted into twisted sharp pieces, impossible to use. For all new arrivals at the foundation—new workers, searching family members, foreign dignitaries—entry began with a tour of the state-of-the-art DNA laboratory.
Large picture windows allowed visitors to peer into each of the nine rooms to watch laboratory staff process skeletal samples recovered from archeological excavations throughout Guatemala.
The director often proudly explained that the gleaming lab was the only accredited forensic lab in Guatemala—a status they had worked more than two years to achieve, and that had not even been achieved by the national forensic service. The foundation had invested in the latest technology, including genetic analyzers capable of doing STR and SNP analysis, real-time PCR machines, and amplification equipment.
Pointing out certain workers, he demonstrated how this lab had become a regional center not only for the analysis of difficult cases, but also a site of training of young forensic scientists from throughout Latin America.
Inthe FAFG was participating in a regional training grant to build capacity for forensic DNA analysis for two allied organizations: Similar tours were a regular feature of laboratory life, and scientists were accustomed to their role as exemplars of human rights identification.
In the course of a single week the ambassadors of Sweden, Norway, and the United States were each taken on the same journey. Newspaper reporters and camera crews from local news outlets, regional centers, and even from the Smithsonian came to film the scientists at work.
They, too, were treated to a technical explanation of how their family member would soon be identified through the latest technologies available. Turning quarter-inch samples of bone and tooth from the dead and disappeared of Guatemala into genetic data was a laborious process.
The tour of the laboratory emphasized the powerful role of DNA in determining identity, but this was neither the beginning nor the endpoint of the identification process. The Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation has worked for years to identify clandestine gravesites, collect DNA samples from surviving family members, and exhume and forensically analyze the remains of the dead.
The largest project of the foundation is a new initiative to identify the disappeared of Guatemala through massive excavations of the collective burial sites of public cemeteries in Guatemala City, Esquintla, and Antigua.
This was a decided shift in focus for an organization that had previously limited its work to the important task of identifying the victims of discrete massacres in rural areas. Surveying cemeteries for unregistered dead had been used with great success in Argentina, where activists found that the armed forces and police had subverted the medical examiner and mortuary system of the state, dumping bodies in state-sanctioned burial sites for the destitute without the proper medical or legal processing.
With funding from various European consulates and the US State Department, the foundation began excavating pozos, or deep wells where the indigent dead were routinely buried in mass graves.
The result has been the largest forensic undertaking in Latin America, the excavation at La Verbena in Guatemala City. Inthe foundation had already analyzed over 10, bodies and were working at a depth of 20 meters below ground. Forensic archeologists rappelled down the walls of the five-meter-in-diameter well, to a floor of human bodies, carefully disentangling each set of remains, photographing them, and depositing them in buckets to be hauled up to the surface for further analysis.
The conditions were unimaginable, with bodies so tightly packed together that they had failed to fully decompose, leaving bloated figures mingled with bones. Many bodies had become disarticulated, forcing archeologists to send up bags of long bones, leaving only skulls to be individually identified.
Roaches and rats added to the unhygienic conditions, prompting workers to wear fully body suits and special air purification masks. In many cases, bodies showed clear indications of government mismanagement and outright torture. Many bodies had no documentation or signs of medical autopsy, although both were required in cases of a suspicious death. Workers described cases where a recovered body still had a blindfold tightly tied around the skull, or ,in a particularly devastating case, a woman with her baby wrapped tightly to her back with a traditional Mayan cloth.
Given the conditions of bodies in mass graves, it is not surprising that the process within the laboratory began with cleaning potential sources of contamination from samples. Debris, dirt, mold, dried blood and skin, and hair—all the detritus accumulated in the 30 years these samples spent in mass graves—were removed by hand, the surface of bones and teeth carefully cleaned with sand paper and a dental drill.
Six to eight analysts and technicians, dressed in sterile gowns, shoe coverings, and masks, gathered around a laboratory bench to scrape and sand until teeth, pieces of the skull, and long bones gleamed white, despite years of abandonment and decay. A liquid nitrogen freezer mill ground the teeth, bones, and skulls into a fine powder. In the next 48 hours, the bone powder was treated using demineralization agents to transform the white powder into a cloudy liquid.
At each step, the volume was decreased until the analyst was left with 12 micrograms of purified DNA. Over the next week the sample was quantified and, if sufficient DNA was found to be the sample, amplified using one of several standard forensic kits mini-filer, identi-filer, or y-filer and run through the genetic analyzer. Each step in this process was carefully coded and circumscribed by standard operating procedures SOPs and best practices, guiding each step of analysis.
At one point in the middle of the long day, Ana, a mid-level geneticist at the organization held a test tube up to the light. Who knows if all of this will lead to anything at all?
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Rather than a power struggle in science as combat, for Ana, science became an act of faith. Meditating on faith, Ana was flagging an aspect of her work in the lab.
Although straightforward in the SOPs, the process of identification was inevitably complicated by degraded samples, lack of resources to buy reagents and repair machines, biological phenomena outside of the control of the protocols, and the very practices of disappearance and genocide which had left samples in devastating conditions of comingling, contamination, and degradation.
Obtaining usable profiles from year-old bones, although technically possible and routinely practiced in a number of forensic settings, often required multiple extractions. In a country where the average annual income is 2, USD, one profile from bone cost almost 1, dollars.
Even with this significant monetary investment, and months of laboratory work and analysis, many samples failed to produce any usable profile at all. To return to the specifics of lab practice, in a set of 16 samples of bone that had been processed for 40 hours already, 10 might precipitate unexpectedly, turning into an impenetrable foam, and rendering the subsequent purification steps null.
Because of the requirements of accreditation, the SOP process had to continue exactly as written, ignoring the materiality of foam, which simply would not be filtered in the subsequent steps. How can we reconcile this pressure to process in the face of the failure to produce results? In that light, what kind of faith did forensic genetics require? Ana and the other analysts struggled with their alienation from the labor of DNA analysis. And not in the sense of alienation from the humanity of the samples, from the real flesh and blood of the massacred, but from the labor and authorship of scientific research supplanted by a global hierarchy of value that had constructed this space as one of throughput and processing, not creation.
Moreover it testified to a core belief by human rights organizations, funding groups, and participating family members: In the face of ongoing violence, deep political failure, death threats, entrenched poverty and discrimination, the laboratory with its glassed-in rooms, genetic sequencers, and white-coated scientists evoked in its visitors a kind of wide-eyed wonder.
As a community radio organizer from the Nebaj in the highlands, bilingual in Ixil and Spanish, explained: He saw the local processing of DNA as an answer to the failed process of justice for indigenous Mayans. Although the return and reburial of bodies identified via other forensic methods has occurred in Guatemala for the last 20 years, it was the laboratory as an icon of justice and accountability that shifted his position from indifference to excitement.
The processing of samples regardless of actual identifications, which was the explicit goal, revealed an additional dimension to the work of Ana and her colleagues: As one surviving sister of a disappeared man, now in her 40s, who attended an inaugural event for a new excavation site explained, she was offering her DNA sample because this was the first time she had ever felt safe enough to publicly mourn her disappeared brother.
However, by thinking these two cases together, the structuring transnational dimensions of both the practice of Cold-War violence and sociopolitical and technical responses to it are revealed.
Forensic genetics had its genesis in human rights work in Argentina in the early s, with the development of the Index of Grandpaternity, a legally recognized genetic test capable of proving genetic relatedness between a grandparent and a child in the absence of the parental generation.
Moreover theorists of nationalism like Mosse, Anderson, and Parker have emphasized the strong relationship between the nation-state and the particular gendered and sexed constructions of the citizen and family.
Survivors and searching family members describe the government and the organized Left as both adopting a pronatalist policies, encouraging their members to have children even as disappearances were going on.
Suddenly an entire culture based on familial love, devotion, and the capacity for mutual sacrifice collapses. Nothing is possible in such a universe, and that is precisely what the torturers know.
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This focus on the family was central to court rulings declaring that the disappearances in Argentina fit international definitions of genocide, thereby expanding existing legal frameworks to include the explicit destruction of political groups as a form of genocide. If you spent less time on the street and more time doing your motherly duty, your daughter would not be in this trouble. Argentina is paradigmatic in its family-based organizing. In contemporary Argentina, the family as a form of identity politics has become the grounds of social movements for human rights, and status as an injured family is central to making claims on the Argentine state for justice.
Part of the power of this form of resistance is the seeming naturalness of this kind of claims-making, locating democratic transition in realm of the reproductive. Although the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo have become the international symbol for the family movement, an equally important organization in Argentina is the Abuelas of the Plaza de Mayo.
They have chosen to organize with the explicit goal of identifying and being reunited with their grandchildren, rather than primarily with their children.
Regarding our grandchildren, we ask that the fate handed to each and every one of the disappeared children in the Argentine Republic since be clarified, as well as the fate of the babies born in detention camps where their young mothers were taken while pregnant, and that these children be integrated with their family members, and all their rights respected: The Abuelas received no official response from the state for their demands to know the location of each of their missing grandchildren.
They were most often told to stop looking or that the babies were dead, killed in utero along with their subversive mothers. The Abuelas have spent the last 30 years proving that this appropriation of children during the dictatorship was a systematic plan by the government to rupture natal families.
Like a television or a nice piece of furniture, children became one more piece of booty used to reward the foot soldiers of the right.
The government not only broke apart families, but also built new ones with all the concomitant realities of duty, love, and socialization. Through their investigations the Abuelas found children they believed to be their disappeared grandchildren.
However, they faced serious difficulties in making legal claims to these children in the Argentine courts. The Abuelas appealed to the state, claiming an epistemology of maternal love and recognition. As Nelida Navajos described in the early days of searching: She walks the same way.
Eyewitness testimony of live births and appropriations, interviews with neighbors, and documentary analysis of allegedly falsified birth certificates were not accepted by the court as sufficient proof of relatedness. How did they know this child was related to this grandmother? What seems routine today, genetic tests for relatedness between a grandparent and child in the absence of the parental generation, took a heroic effort to establish in the early s.
The Abuelas traveled to more than twelve countries in Europe and the Americas, begging scientists to help them with their attempt to prove relatedness. It took an international team of mathematicians and scientists to successfully identify the first grandchild.
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Not only was this a scientific process, but it was coproduced with a legal apparatus that recognized the authoritativeness of this claim. Inthe Abuelas regained custody of the first child via this method, Paula Logares, placing genetic tests for identity at the center of Argentine attempts to reconcile the crimes of the past.
In the decades since that first case, the Abuelas and the democratic Argentine state have relied on blood testing, first using HLA analysis and later forensic genetics to arbitrate identity. The historical emergence of this kind of identificatory genetics in Argentina shows how a focus on kinship created a very specific kind of faith in the reconstruction of the biological family as political reconstitution.
Given the form of political violence with its focus on families, this genetic reification of biological kinship tied DNA analysis to the furthering of the project of democratic legitimacy. We can see this linkage in a speech by Juliana, whose younger brother was disappeared by the dictatorship and is thought to be one of the young adults in Argentina who live with falsified names and identities: Because even now there are those who still live beneath the boots of the dictatorship. It was a particular kind of identification that linked the unidentified not as themselves as the same across time in place, but as a member of a particular biogenetic grouping—DNA, as it was deployed in human rights, explicitly did the work of kinship.
An important difference in the focus of identification in Argentina is its consolidation around the living, rather than the dead. Living Abuelas seeking justice were connected through the analysis of their blood to their living grandchildren whose present-day but fraught and complicated kinship to both dictatorship-aligned families, and prospectively to the Abuelas themselves, the very victims of that dictatorship, represented a victory of sorts for democracy.
Returning, then, to contemporary practices of forensic genetic identification in Guatemala, it is only through the material construction of DNA technology in the early post-dictatorship period in Argentina that the packaged nexus of forensic DNA science as a tool for justice on behalf of the disappeared in Guatemala takes shape.
The Index of Grandpaternity provides identity—but a very specific kind; not identity in the sense of being one and the same i. In the Index of Grandpaternity, which has, in the last 30 years become a field of forensic genetics, kinship analysis motivates the taking of a sample from an unidentified body or child, and matches that to a reported missing person within a genealogical family tree. In this paper, I draw on a moment in the field when a colleague explained that genetics was as much about faith as it was about science.
I explore the sacred and affective dimensions of contemporary practice in Guatemala and the historical foundations of forensic genetics in the region in post-dictatorship Argentina. In the first section, I closely examine the contemporary laboratory practices of excavation, identification, and genetic analysis of the disappeared in Guatemala, suggesting a rereading of laboratory work as ritual.
By offering a reading of the purification of DNA from contaminants, bone, and tissue as a ritual process akin to religious rituals surrounding mortality and death, I highlight the ritual performance of the sacred throughout the transformation of polluted tissue in mass graves to data configured as capable of rendering an identification and the return of the disappeared person to their grieving family.
This analysis, however, raises a further question of how and why family members have come to see the work of scientists as a form of physical and political care of the dead. Turning in the second section to the historical development of forensic DNA in Argentina, where mothers and grandmothers searched, advocated for, and created the first viable human rights application of genetics, I argue that historical configurations matter for the final configuration of a technology.
I show the ways in which kinship became embedded in forensic praxis through the use of kinship charts, the structure of DNA databanks, the statistical methodology of identification, and the advocacy practices of scientists and families.
Latin America in the Cold War, Chicago: Routledge, ; Gilbert M. Joseph, Daniela Spenser, and Emily S. Rosenberg, In from the Cold: Duke UP, ; M.
Feitlowitz, A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture, New York: Latin America, the U. The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Wilmington: SR Books, ; M.
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Mellibovsky, Circle of Love over Death: Testimonies of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Willimantic: Madres de Plaza de Mayo, Txalaparta, Judith Butler, Precarious Life: In Latin America, forensic analysis of the victims of political repression has been generally organized into national teams of forensic anthropologists constituted as NGOs.
These professional anthropologists, geneticists, and human rights workers often organized as students during the conflict, seeking tools and methods that would allow them to bring their technical skills to address the immediacy of the ongoing violence.
Although both Guatemala and Argentina have state criminological services within the police forces, these groups organized outside of the purview of the state to do the work of investigation, excavation, and identification that the state has not done. Moreover, their work during ongoing genocide and in the intervening years has focused on the importance of scientific documentation as an explicit tool to counteract state discourses of denial of the violence and a cultural politics of oblivion.
The science-based human rights groups focused on in this paper are: