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Updated on
19 June 2017
The Archaeology of Violence

International colloquium organized by Inrap and the Museum of Louvre-Lens.
October 2, 3 and 4, 2104 at La Scène du Louvre-Lens

The archaeology of violence: wartime violence, mass violence 
by Luis Fondebrider, Universidad de Buenos Aires/Equipo Argentino de Antropología

Since 1984, when forensic archaeology began to be used in a massive way in Argentina, to recover the remains of the people who disappeared during the military dictatorship that ruled the country between 1976 and 1983, this particular application of Archaeology had been extensively used in around 50 countries around the world, such as Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, former Yugoslavia, East Timor and South Africa, among others, to document cases of human rights violations. 
The introduction of this specialty in the traditional world of the forensic sciences and criminal investigations had been not easy, facing different challenges related to the specific political context, the academic world, cultural and religious aspects as well security issues. At the same time, the transition from a local context to an international one for the practitioners had been a difficult process, facing questions from for which agency an archaeologist works to the uses of his/her findings. 
This presentation will reflex on a balance of the experience accumulated, taking examples from the different context where the EAAF had worked during the last 30 years.

Luis Fondebrider is an argentine forensic anthropologist of 50 years old, co-founder and current President of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF), a non-profit, scientific organization based in Buenos Aires, with offices in New York, Mexico and South Africa.   

Through the application of forensic sciences - mainly forensic anthropology, archaeology and genetics - and in collaboration with victims‘relatives and investigative bodies, EAAF aims to shed light on the investigation of human rights violations.   

Founded in Argentina in 1984, EAAF has worked in nearly 50 countries in the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia. Through its innovative work, the organization has helped make forensic sciences and the use of physical evidence a valuable component of human rights investigations and judicial proceedings, contributing to the search for truth, justice, reparation and prevention of further violations.   

EAAF has a forensic genetic laboratory specialized in the recovery of DNA from bones and teeth, serving Argentine´s, as well other countries.   

EAAF is one of the main reference´s forensic organizations for United Nations as well for the Inter American Court of Human Rights.   

EAAF had contributed to establish forensic teams in Chile, Guatemala, Cyprus and South Africa.     

Mr Fondebrider had worked as expert witness and/or forensic adviser, in the following countries: Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, El Salvador, Haiti, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Romania, Iraq, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cyprus, Georgia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Morocco, Lebanon, Libya, Vietnam, Thailand, Solomon Is., Sri Lanka, Sudan, Kenya, and Namibia. 

Mr Fondebrider had worked as forensic expert for the following bodies:   

  • Truth Commissions of Argentina, El Salvador, Haiti, Uruguay, Peru, South Africa and Solomon Islands;
  • International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia;
  • Committee of Missing Persons of Cyprus;
  • OAS Forensic Team case of 11 MP from Colombia;
  • International Commission of Experts on the investigation of cause of death of President Salvador Allende, Chile;
  • UN Secretary General Investigation Team for Democratic Republic of Congo;
  • UN Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, Sudan;
  • Presidential Commission for searching and identification of Che Guevara remains;
  • Presidential Panel of Forensic  Experts for Chile;
  • Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Australia, case Ned Kelly;
  • Special Prosecutor Office of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia;
  • National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa;
  • Prosecutors Office of Colombia;
  • International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for the project "The Missing”;
  • Medico Legal Institute of Colombia;
  • Medico Legal Institute of Vietnam;
  • Federación Latinoamericana de Asociaciones de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos (FEDEFAM);
  • Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD);
  • Amnesty International;
  • Human Rights Watch;
  • nternational Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ)  
Mr Fondebrider is part of the Forensic International Team leading the Manual on Genetics and Human Rights, under the Government of Argentina and the ICRC.   

Mr Fondebrider teaches forensic anthropology at the annual course of Legal Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Buenos Aires.   

  • Hanbook of Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology (World Archaeological Congress Research,)Soren Blau (Editor), Douglas Ubelaker (Editor)
  • Hard Evidence: Case Studies in Forensic Anthropology (2nd Edition) by Dawnie W. Steadman (Jan 2, 2009)
  • A Companion to Forensic Anthropology, Dennis Dirkmaat (May 7, 2012)
  • Forensic Archaeology and Human Rights Violations, Roxana Ferllini (Jun 1, 2007)    


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