Inhabiting Unfinished Pasts: Law, Transitional Justice, and Mourning in Postwar Peru

This article examines the possibility of mourning and justice without the body and its implications for political community in the aftermath of state atrocities. It focuses on the forensic exhumation of clandestine mass graves at the military base of Los Cabitos, the headquarters of the 1980s and 1990s counterinsurgency campaign in the Peruvian south-central Andes. These procedures uncovered technologies of body disposal used by the military that made impossible the identification of victims of state terror. In the face of this impossibility, relatives of the disappeared have appropriated the unknown remains to articulate forms of political mourning and justice that speak truth to power through ordinary languages and tropes.