Organization for Regional and Inter-regional StudiesWaseda University


[Lecture]”Sovereignty in Ruins: Necropower, Necro-governmentality, and the Figure of the People in Peru’s post-war Andes” (3/18)

Sovereignty in Ruins: Necropower, Necro-governmentality, and the Figure of the People in Peru’s post-war Andes
Soberanía en Ruinas: Necropoder, necrogubernamentalidad, y la figura del pueblo en los andes del Perú posguerra

  • Date & Time
    Monday,March 18, 14:00-17:15
  • Venue
    Room 212,  Building #7
  • lecture
    Mr. Isaias Rojas-Perez
  • Participation
    Free, No registration required
  • Language
    English and Spanish
  • Audience
    Students, faculty members, and the general public
  • Contact
    Dr. Chie ISHIDA[email protected]
  • Flyer

    In 2009, the Peruvian legal authorities completed a six-year forensic archaeological investigation at Los Cabitos, the former regional headquarters of the 1980s and 1990s counterinsurgency campaign in Peru’s central southern Andes. This investigation uncovered dozens of clandestine mass graves containing the shattered remains of an unknown number of “disappeared” suspects during Peru’s “war on terror.” Also discovered were the foundations of demolished furnaces, where the Peruvian military presumably burned their victims’ bodies to dispose of them without a trace. Two years later (2011), Quechua mothers of the disappeared erected a plain cross of cement at the site, to pay tribute to their missing relatives. Drawing from my book “Mourning Remains,” in this talk I show how an ethnographic approximation to the physical remnants left on the site by these very different assemblages of power (counterinsurgency terror, forensic intervention and commemoration) compels a reconsideration of the question of sovereignty in the aftermath of state atrocity. Indeed, contemporary contexts of transitional justice in the wake of genocide suggest that a new form of power has emerged that seeks to shape how the recent past of violence should be reckoned. That power, which I call “necro-governmentality,” takes as its means the governing of dead bodies in order to structure the field of action and speech of survivors and members of society at large as ostensibly free subjects. Necro-governmentality, I argue, stands in opposition term by term to “necropower”— a concept Mbembe (2003) coined to insist that biopolitics ultimately manifests itself through the creation of “death-worlds.” Specifically, my talk examines the political significance of the Quechua mothers’ gesture of erecting the cross at Los Cabitos. Whereas the technical, expert and modern character of post-atrocity political processes tend to exclude ordinary practices and technologies of self and truth, these women assert their primacy in matters of death. By mobilizing cultural grammars that govern the thresholds within which Andean peoples test what a human form of life should be, these mothers hold the state to account. In so doing, they make a claim on political community that evokes—against necropower but also in contrast to necrogovernmentality—the figure of the people standing in its own right, to affirm the full stakes of the aftermath and to reimagine its future.

  • 0318



7rd Building 212


Fri, 22 Feb 2019

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