Missing persons and infrastructures of search and identification



People go missing all over the world, but the reasons for disappearances are enormously diverse. Some people are intentionally disappeared by the state: totalitarian and military governments as well as various paramilitary and criminal organizations have used enforced disappearances as a tactic to control the population and create submissive citizens or subjects though fear and insecurity. Both civilians and soldiers disappear invariably in the chaotic circumstances of war and armed conflict. Some people disappear in natural catastrophes or fatal accidents; some disappear of their own free will. Whatever the reason for disappearance, it disturbs the everyday flow of life in families and communities, and in many places, it creates anomalies for modern state bureaucracies. Unaccounted-for absences give rise to search practices, but the circumstances of search are radically different in different places and different contexts of disappearance. One way to approach these differences is to analyse the infrastructures of search in each site. I am especially interested in the entanglement of the local with the global, and of the spatial reach of search infrastructures . Moreover, I consider the significance of the material affordances of some infrastructural forms, especially of the DNA as the key tool for identification. I make some observations on how the entanglements of local and transnational investment and the material affordances of the techniques allow some of the disappeared to be found and identified, while others stay more ‘disappearable’ (Laakkonen 2022).





How to Cite

Huttunen, L. (2024). Missing persons and infrastructures of search and identification. Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society, 48(2), 118–122. https://doi.org/10.30676/jfas.143673