Joint MUSTS-GTD colloquium: Amade M’charek (UvA) – Vital Elements, Post-colonial Flows’

Amade M'charek

Wednesday April 19th, 15:30-17:00

This event will take place on-campus

If you would like to attend as non-MUSTS member, please register by sending an email to: j{dot}bruyninckx{at}maastrichtuniversity{dot}nl


Vital elements, post-colonial flows: Forensics as an art of paying attention

Amade M’charek

(University of Amsterdam)



Since 2014 more than 23,000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. They have been attended to as “border death” (Last & Spijkerboer 2014), drawing attention to the militarization of Europe’s borders and its migration policy. But what if we made a decolonial move and crossed the Mediterranean, from Europe to Africa? What if we attended to death, not in relation to borders that kill, but in relation to life and livelihood? The starting point for this tale is the beaches of Zarzis, a southern Tunisian harbour town, where dead bodies have been washing ashore since the mid-nineties. I ask how these bodies ended up here, a forensic question I will not engage in any self-evident way.I reconfigure forensics, from an art of mobilizing evidence and finding closure, to an art of paying attention, a mode of opening up and articulating complex entanglements.


Amade Aouatef M’charek is Professor of Anthropology of Science at the Department of Anthropology, University of Amsterdam. M’charek is finalizing the RaceFaceID Project, an ERC-consolidator project on forensic identification and the making of face and race, and co-Principal Investigator of the NWA project Pressing Matter: Ownership, Value and the Question of Colonial Heritage in Museums. Through her research on migrant death, she has developed an interest in forensic methods for studying (post)colonial relations, circulations and extractions, which has resulted in the ERC-Advanced project Vital Elements and Postcolonial Moves: Forensics as the Art of Paying Attention in a Mediterranean Harbour Town.