Burial is an integral part of reconciling with death. In this way, mortuary practices are made for the living; and the manner of death and burials continue to affect the politics of the living. Especially after collective traumatic events such as the Srebrenica massacre, reburials become central to the reconciliation process of the surviving communities. The process of reburial, however, also facilitates the claims that a particular territory is part of a specific, ethnic ‘homeland’. As reburials aim to forget the atrocities, they also commemorate them. Although reburial is one of the few ways of moving on after the death of a loved one, it simultaneously claims territory for the communities whose dead are buried there, potentially reigniting tensions in the future. Reburial allows communal reconciliation, but only for the community of the victims. For the community of the perpetrators, such a reburial only serves as a humiliation and inhibits harmony. Attempting to reconcile post-conflict multi-ethnic communities is thus impossible without understanding the profound effects that the community of the dead continues to play in the lives of the living.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.