Outside the borders of the state, abandonment. On the new forms of disappearance

Gabriel Gatti (Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea )
Publication Year
Thematic Area
Law & Policies / Mechanisms / Technology & Data / The Search Process
Identification / Information Management (Archive/Database/Register) / Law – International / Law – National
Open access

In this article I propose an expanded definition of the categories of “disappearance” and “disappeared” with which to address situations marked by abandonment. In the first movement, I provide a critical description of the scientific literature available about disappearance in several fields, in particular legal and political sociology. Both have gradually constructed an interpretation that, while legally effective, sociologically sensitive, and socially successful, currently find themselves overwhelmed. The second movement confirms that the dominant meaning of disappearance and disappeared has been overwhelmed, and it addresses how that overwhelming affects three of their characteristics: the timeframes of reference for both categories (the past and memory); the anthropological assumptions that underpin the two (the bad death and the (im)possibility of its conventional management); and the normative social frameworks that both take as “a given” (the state and citizenship, and the forms of political agency associated with them). Finally, the third movement deals with different experiences of field research related to very open uses of the idea of disappearance, to gather different efforts of theoretical problematization that currently, and in various fields of social science research, turn disappearance and disappeared into tools for analyzing social forms of abandonment.