Tracing Infrastructure and its Evolution in the Search for the Missing in Poland


  • Anna Matyska University of Warsaw


Every day around the globe, people go missing for any number of reasons. Some disappearances are intentional, others are enforced by oppressive political regimes or the result of natural disasters. Whatever the reason, these disappearances produce family ruptures and anxieties, and require a search to establish, at the very least, whether the missing person is dead or alive. In Poland, the number of reported disappearances gradually rose to 20 000 by 2018. (For comparison, other countries’ figures vary widely due to the diverse contexts and calculations used—for instance, Finland records 700–800 missing incidents annually, while in the UK there are over 300 000.) The increase in Poland’s figures results from the sheer growth in disappearances given the ease of movement and rising socioeconomic pressures, bringing with them health issues, debt, and family conflicts. The increase in disappearance figures also results from an increased willingness among families to report missing persons and a willingness among the police to accept such reports. I associate the rising sociopolitical recognition of disappearances in Poland with the expansion of tracing infrastructure, which I define as the interlocking assembly of state and nonstate agents, institutions, and technologies engaged in the search for missing persons.




How to Cite

Matyska, A. (2024). Tracing Infrastructure and its Evolution in the Search for the Missing in Poland . Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society, 48(2), 127–131.