Society for Psychological Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
This paper attends to the politically charged circumstances of life, death, burial, and mourning in situations of police violence against Algerians in France in the late 1950s and early 1960s, during the Algerian war of independence. I consider the life, death, and afterlife of a man who was seriously wounded by the police during a collective protest in October, 1961, and who died under obscure circumstances. In drawing from photographi and archival materials, the talk attends to the circumstances and politics of the man’s death, the legal-medical-bureaucratic regard of his corpse, and the family’s subsequent, uncertain mourning in his absence. Through such engagements, this paper gives intensive thought to the ways in which images can reflect wounds in the world, inscribing within their imaginal forms the wounds people or communities suffer, be it wounding spawned from colonial violence or from postcolonial legacies of death, absence, and remembrance. Images can also work as wounds in the world, affecting any viewers of such images in unsettling, wounding ways. The photographic images considered here work in multiple ways within complex flows of time; they have been variably encountered and perceived as testimonial images, images of the violent real, images of racism and colonial domination, images of survival, images of an absent life, and, in my subsequent reading, as wound images. In all, in considering images of life, wounding, and death in situations of state violence, this paper attends to the complicated linkages between violence, imagination, mourning, time, and history.