The Art of Torture and the Place of Execution: A Forensic Narrative
Article first published online: 1 MAY 2012
©2012 by the American Anthropological Association
PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review
Volume 35, Issue 1, pages 53–76, May 2012
How to Cite
Kane, S. C. (2012), The Art of Torture and the Place of Execution: A Forensic Narrative. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, 35: 53–76. doi: 10.1111/j.1555-2934.2012.01179.x
- Issue published online: 1 MAY 2012
- Article first published online: 1 MAY 2012
- [human rights;
- Latin America;
In El Calafate, Argentina, a remote global nature tour destination where tourists lodge en route to experience the spectacular glacial beauty of Patagonia, a 17-year-old local boy was kidnapped and taken to an otherwise unremarkable waterscape on the edge of town, where he was tortured and executed. His death, however, was officially declared a suicide. The malevolence of his assailants and their protectors moved outward from the youth's body and the crime site into the homes of despairing and disbelieving family and friends, overflowing into private and public protest, all to no avail. The crime and its aftermath dramatically altered the lives of the victim's working-class family and friends.
While their faith in the local police and courts has nearly been destroyed, and faith in relevant human rights law barely ignited, continued communication about this crime as part of an ongoing community disaster seems to infer an unspecified promise, or at least, a stubborn desire, to continue seeking justice with words. In this article, I explore the layered attempts of family and friend's to narrate, counter, and untangle the causes and effects emanating from the youth's murder, the official evidence box, and the spatially situated terror that persists. Mediated through ethnographic writing, the forensic narration shows how violent crime distorts and divides human perception of everyday places with ominous and artful precision.