Hidden in full sight: kinship, science and the law in the aftermath of the Srebrenica genocide

Erica Haimes, Victor Toom

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20 Citations (Scopus)
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Terms such as “relationship testing,” “familial searching” and “kinship analysis” figure prominently in professional practices of disaster victim identification (DVI). However, despite the dependence of those identification technologies on DNA samples from people who might be related to the dead and despite also the prominence of the notion of “relatedness” as a device for identifying the dead, the concepts of “relatedness” and “kinship” remain elusive both in practice and in analyses of the social and ethical aspects of DVI by DNA; they are hidden in full sight. In this article, we wish to bring kinship more to the fore. We achieve this through a case study of a setting where bio-legal framings dominate, that is, in the trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) of Radovan Karadžić for the Srebrenica genocide in 1995. DNA samples from the families of those massacred in Srebrenica were vital for the identification of individual victims but are now also utilized as “evidence” by both the prosecution and the defense. By viewing practices of science (“evidence” and “identification”) and legal practices (“justice,” “prosecution” and “defence”) through the lens of kinship studies, we will present some alternative and complementary framings for the social accomplishment of ‘relatedness’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-294
JournalNew Genetics and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2014


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