Jedwabne has turned into Poland's “national problem." After a partial exhumation of the mass graves in 2001, a full exhumation has been proposed in 2016 in order to discover the true identity of the perpetrators, how many people died, and how. This talk presents various points of view on this matter. In fact, it is not the victims that are at the center of attention but their depersonalized remains, which have come to be treated as corpus delicti. Exhumation in Jedwabne will be analyzed as an aspect of the “exhumation movement” that is going on not only in Poland, but also in Spain and a number of Latin American countries, and a manifestation of “the forensic turn” in genocide studies. This movement constitutes a pathology of transitional justice, a bargaining chip in a memory conflict, and above all a shift of credibility from a human witness to a material evidence. The concept of “forensic truth” enables us to relate the debate over the massacre to the idea of “the forum” as a site of practicing and executing civil rights.
Ewa Domanska is professor of human sciences and holds her permanent position at the Department of History, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland. She is affiliated with Anthropology Department and CREEES at Stanford. Her teaching and research interests include comparative theory of the human and social sciences, history and theory of historiography, genocide and ecocide studies. She is the author and editor of 18 books. Her more recent publications: Existential History (in Polish, 2012); History and the Contemporary Humanities: Studies in Theory of Historical Knowledge (in Ukrainian, 2012); History-Today (ed. with Rafal Stobiecki and Tomasz Wislicz, in Polish, 2014).https://dlcl.stanford.edu/people/ewa-domanska